Long before the Las Vegas Strip became the most prominent destination for travelers to the western gambling mecca, Downtown Las Vegas was the true heart of the city. Despite it’s incessantly shimmering lights, every corner of Freemont Street reeks with nostalgia. Unfortunately, like its neighboring Strip, Downtown is slowly losing its historic appeal.
It was just announced that, following a buyout by real estate magnates Derek and Greg Stevens, three of the oldest Downtown Las Vegas casinos will no longer grace the promenade. Granite Gaming Group has sold three of its gambling properties, including La Bayou Casino, Mermaid’s Casino and Girls of Glitter Gulch, all situated along Freemont Street.
Granite Gaming announced it had sold the trio of properties to Derek Stevens, owner of numerous Las Vegas properties, including The D Las Vegas and Golden Gate Casino, among others. The cost last month’s confirmed acquisition has not been disclosed.
Nearly a Century of Downtown Las Vegas History
La Bayou is so old, it predates the legalization of casino gambling in Nevada. It was originally opened as a coffee house, but was transformed into a liquor and gambling property called The Northern Club in 1920. It was the first casino to receive a gambling license in 1931, and ten years later, was co-operated by the infamous mobster Bugsy Siegel.
It was then branded the Monte Carlo Club in 1945, followed by Coin Castle 1976, and after renovations in 1999, became La Bayou Casino.
Mermaid’s Casino isn’t quite as old, opened in 1956 as the first two-story casino in Downtown Las Vegas, known as the Silver Palace. In 1999, the owner chose to renovate both Coin Castle and its across-the-street sister site, Silver Palace, renaming them La Bayou Casino and Mermaids Casino respectively.
La Bayou and Mermaid’s are among the very few Las Vegas casinos that still offer cash payouts, as opposed to electronic ticket vouchers.
Girls of Glitter Gulch is younger still, opened in 1991, but is considered a very popular destination for tourists, being the only topless strip club in Downtown Las Vegas. A relatively small establishment overall, Girls of Glitter Gulch is not actually a casino, having failed to receive a license to install slot machines in 2008.
Following the sale, all three properties are slated to close their doors on June 27, 2016.
More Modernization coming to in Downtown Las Vegas?
Stevens hasn’t unveiled his plans for the three locations, but there’s heavy talk around the water cooler that he intends to modernize the properties into boutique-style casinos. It’s expected that the architecture will be completely redesigned, and that the new owner will use the alleyways that currently flow between them to connect them with other Stevens’ owned properties.
Derek and his brother, Greg Stevens, have spent the last decade scooping up real estate along Freemont Street, and now own a substantial slice of the Downtown Las Vegas pie. Despite the fact that the area’s nostalgic magnetism still exists among many tourists, especially those drawn to the antique slot machines, flashing neon lights and cheap alcoholic beverages, the historic side of Freemont Street is rapidly fading.