Buyers of Piñon Plaza granted recommendation for gaming license

The buyers of the Piñon Plaza won the Gaming Control Board's recommendation Wednesday to be licensed to operate the casino.

The final decision will be made later this month by the Nevada Gaming Commission, after which the property will be renamed the Gold Dust West Carson City.

Jacobs Entertainment and Black Hawk Gaming and Development are buying the hotel-casino from Clark Russell for $14.5 million. That deal was announced in November, but the licensing process went quickly because Jeffery Jacobs and his key staff members are already licensed in Nevada at the Gold Dust West in Reno and were previously licensed at the Riviera in Las Vegas.

He told the board they plan to spend $6-7 million remodeling and updating and converting the Piñon into the Gold Dust West on Carson City.

Jacobs and his company are also planning a third Gold Dust West Casino in Elko.

He said Lynne Keller, manager of the Reno property, will move to Carson City to manage the renamed and remodeled hotel-casino. He said they intend to keep the current employees of the Piñon Plaza.

Jacobs was questioned about his optimistic projections they could greatly increase the profitability of the casino, but, he said, their projections are close to what the establishment was making before its business was hurt by construction of the Carson bypass. The freeway currently ends at the overpass just east of the casino.

Jacobs said that before the freeway construction began, the Piñon was making about $6 million a year, but that dropped to just $1.5 million last year.

"It was pretty severely impacted by the freeway construction," he said.

He said they should be able to bring the property's profits back to at least $6 million.

Located at the junction of the freeway bypass and Highway 50, he said, the casino has "a great location." He said they hope to come back in a year or so with plans to expand the property.

In Elko, he said the company recently purchased the old Safeway building across from the airport. Work will begin next month to convert it into another Gold Dust West, and Jacobs said plans are to have it open by the first of the year.

The company also operates casinos in Colorado, Louisiana and Virginia.

Meanwhile, Golden Gaming of Las Vegas is negotiating with the Hettrick family to lease the property across the street from the Piñon for another hotel-casino. Lynn Hettrick said the negotiations will require the tire store, currently on one part of the property, be moved to a new location.

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at or 687-8750.


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