San Manuel Makes History As First Tribe to Operate Las Vegas Casino
The shuttered Palms Casino Resort is slated to get new life in the new year, with an affiliate of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians assuming control of the Las Vegas facility.
The property, which has been closed since Clark County and the city of Las Vegas shuttered casinos at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, is slated to reopen next spring, according to a tribal press release.
The San Manuel Gaming and Hospitality Authority received official approval from the Nevada Gaming Commission on Thursday to become licensees for the Palms, with the sale closing Friday. The sale was originally announced in May.
San Manuel Chairwoman Latisha Casas said the tribe is eager to get the Vegas off-strip facility up and running. There are no real money online casino options in Nevada.
“We are grateful for this opportunity to share our long-standing tradition of hospitality with Las Vegas and execute our vision for this iconic resort, starting by welcoming back former and current Palms employees,” Casas said in the press release. “Together, we will create history.”
Casas said the tribe plans on hiring more than 1,000 people to get the facility up and running, between positions for the casino itself, as well as operations, hotel management, food, and beverage management, along with supervisory roles.
A Shot in the Arm for the Palms Casino
The Palms Casino Resort has a checkered history since opening its doors in 2001, with founder George Maloof pumping money into the facility to ensure it stood up with the competition in the Sin City. He sold it to a consortium of private equity companies in 2009.
From there, the casino-resort was sold to Red Rock Resorts, Inc. in 2016 for $312.5 million, leading to more than $600 million in renovations and a litany of headaches, according to Red Rock CEO Frank Fertitta.
Fertitta said this year that the property’s pre-pandemic improvements “didn’t go exactly as planned,” according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
“I think that we invested too much and too much focus on the nightlife and daylight part of the business. ... It was kind of one of those things where we decided if we’re going to fail, we’re going to fail fast and move on.”
A Bright Day for the Palms’ New Owners
Regardless of the property’s past, its future looks promising, according to General Manager Kiser Murphey.
Murphey said in the release the property has a unique opportunity to thrive under new ownership.
“It’s such an honor to reach this milestone today. As we forge ahead, it's important we bring forward the strong values and culture of the Tribe into everything we do at the property,” Murphey said in the press release. “From team member culture to exceptional guest service, it's our intent to create a lively and fun environment not only for customers but our dedicated staff as well.”
The San Manuel Gaming and Hospitality Authority are no stranger to the gaming industry, operating Yaamava’ Resort & Casino at San Manuel in Highland, California, for more than 30 years.
Their newest acquisition is the tribe’s boldest one yet, giving the San Manuel a chance at resuscitating a well-known casino-resort in the shadows of the Strip.
At least from a sports betting perspective, things are booming in Nevada post-pandemic. The state set a handle record in October, bringing in $1.1 billion.
Christopher Boan writes for TopUSCasinos.com and has been covering sports and sports betting for more than seven years, with experience at ArizonaSports.com, the Tucson Weekly and the Green Valley News.