Casino first opened in 2003

Nevada's Emerald Island Casino celebrates two decades in business, expansion planned for early next year

Reading time 2:06 min

Emerald Island Casino in Henderson, Nevada, on Saturday celebrated 20 years in business by throwing an anniversary party. Twin brothers and co-owners of the establishment Tim and Mike Brooks opened the gaming establishment on May 23, 2003, in Downtown Henderson. Since then, the venue has become a downtown fixture and now plans to expand early next year with an additional food venue, bar, and about 100 more slot machines in response to the growing customer demand.

The story of the casino begins when Mike Brooks bought the Pot O’Gold Casino in 2001 and the pair spent the next year and a half, and about $2 million, renovating the closed casino in downtown Henderson’s Historic Water Street District. Celebrations on Saturday included jackpot drawings and free slow-smoked beef brisket, cake, Irish coffee and other treats.

Calling the past 20 years a “wonderful experience,” Tim Brooks told KSNV that they did not expect it to be a life-changing one. "When we first opened the doors, we had second thoughts, are we going to be able to make it, how are we going to make payroll, you know? What are we going to do if there is an earthquake, or what is going to happen if a new regulation comes around and you can't have your license, things like that, but we just persevered," he stated.

The Brooks brothers also told Las Vegas Review-Journal that it was due to investments made by both the city and the casino that Emerald Island is where it is today. The casino stood the test of time and has faced both the Great Recession and the recent Covid-19 pandemic. Tim Brooks told the publication that the recession was easier to bear for the casino as the brothers leaned into marketing and promotions, and even saw a double-digit growth back then. 

What we did is we decided to put the pedal to the metal. But we use the analogy when there’s an accident on the racecar track, the smart drivers go faster because everybody else is slowing down and that’s what we did. We just went faster," Tim Brooks told Review-Journal.

Meanwhile, the pandemic was challenging, as the casino furloughed about 130 staffers at the time. The brothers, however, got back most of the staff when the casino was reopened. 

The casino has helped provide over 300 hundred jobs in Henderson. Speaking to News3liv, Jim Seebock, the city councilman for ward one, said: "In times where job markets are up and down, having a 20-year long-time business, that's significant for us. Everyone is always in here with a smile on their face. Everyone knows where Emerald Island is, every parade, every special event. Everyone knows this is a downtown fixture."

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