Over the years, companies from a slew of sectors — tech, manufacturing, retail and more — have broken ground and built brand new facilities in fast-expanding Northern Nevada. Since 1995, however, Reno-Sparks, a region originally built on the gaming industry, has not seen a new casino built from the ground up. Olympia Gaming, however, is changing that — albeit more than a decade later than planned. In late March, the Las Vegas-based development company announced it broke ground on Legends Bay Casino, located near The Outlets at Legends shopping center in Sparks. The 80,000-square-foot facility will offer gaming, dining and entertainment amenities. The project is anticipated to open in the summer of 2022, according to Olympia Gaming. “With the influx of these tech-centric industries, it brings a lot of people, and that means a lot of people living in these parts,” DeCourcy Graham, Olympia Gaming’s chief operating officer, said in a phone interview with the NNBW. “Whether they work at Tesla or wherever it may be, they’re looking for fun things to do. This is just another way for people to have a good entertainment experience that appeals to a segment of the population. “With the growing population, we think this is a great addition to the area.”
The addition has been a long time coming for the company, which has been planning a casino project near the Sparks Marina since 2007. The original blueprint was an 800-room hotel-casino that was quickly halted in 2008 by the Great Recession. Five years later, in 2013, Olympia Gaming changed its plans to be broken into phases: the construction of two hotels, followed by a large-scale casino. That plan officially kicked off in 2017 when Olympia Gaming and Tharaldson Hospitality Management broke ground on a 102-room Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton and a 104-room Residence Inn by Marriott, both of which opened in 2018. While Olympia and Tharaldson share ownership of the properties, the latter firm manages day-to-day operations. In 2020, Olympia planned to put shovels in the ground for Legends Bay Casino, but held off on construction due to the coronavirus pandemic and uncertainty in the gaming industry. “We paused for a moment or two to look at how the gaming market would perform coming out of the closure of the casinos the occurred in March through June,” said Graham, noting Olympia Gaming paid special attention to the performance of its Casino Fandango in Carson City. “We got a firsthand look at how customer behaviors were as it pertains to returning to the casinos. We were monitoring that very closely and we really liked what we saw. And that may have been one of the major deciding factors as to the decision to pull the trigger.” In all, Olympia says the facility will feature a casino with new slot machines and slot technologies, a variety of table games, multiple dining options, several bars, a sports book and plenty of surface and valet parking. What’s more, the company says the casino will be “seamlessly” integrated into The Outlets at Legends to “provide guests with an all-encompassing gaming and retail experience.” This, Graham said, will set Legends Bay Casino apart from other gaming properties across the entire state. “That’s an unusual circumstance, where you have a casino dropped into a 140-acre project that’s master-planned and already includes retail and dining and entertainment activities,” Graham said. “Competitively-speaking, no one offers that, so that was huge. “The other thing was the location off of I-80 and visibility off of it,” he continued. “And with the advancement and development of what’s going on in Storey County with the TRI (Tahoe Reno Industrial) Center and all of the jobs and people who are traveling out there … that was a bonus.” An Olympia spokesperson said Legends Bay Casino will create about 300 full- and part-time jobs upon completion. When asked about total costs of the project, the company said it did not have a number ready to release.