Gaming approves Piñon Plaza sale to Gold Dust West

The Piñon Plaza casino will shut its doors Sunday night for the formal transfer of ownership to Jacob's Entertainment.

When the casino reopens at 6 a.m. Monday, it will be on its way to becoming the Gold Dust West Carson City, said Chief Financial Officer Steve Roark.

The Nevada Gaming Commission gave final approval Thursday to the sale by Clark Russell and issued a gaming license for Jacobs Entertainment to operate the casino. The vote was unanimous with Chairman Pete Bernhard saying plans for the property "are going to make it even stronger."

Jacobs Entertainment bought the hotel-casino from Russell for $14.5 million. Roark said they plan to spend about $5 million on improvements immediately. Half that will upgrade the slot machines to a ticket-in, ticket-out system. General Manager Lynne Keller said the rest will be spent on "TLC" - updating and remodeling the casino and other parts of the building.

She said only the casino will be shut down Sunday night - necessary to count all the cash on the floor and in the Piñon's vault to complete the transfer of ownership. She said they will avoid disturbing hotel customers.

Roark told the commission the company "focuses on the locals' market and repeat business." Jacobs Entertainment and Black Hawk Gaming have owned the Gold Dust West on Fourth Street in Reno for five years and owner Jeffrey Jacobs told the Gaming Commission earlier this month this is the next step in creating a chain of Gold Dust West casinos in Nevada.

Roark said the company also owns casinos in Colorado, a chain of video-poker truck stops in Louisiana and a race track with eight off-track betting parlors in Virginia.

He assured the commission they intend to keep as many of Piñon's current employees on and in their current positions as possible.

"They know it the best," he said. "They know the customer."

Keller, however, will take over as casino manager, the same position she has had at the Reno Gold Dust West for several years.

The Gaming Control Board raised some questions about Jacobs' prediction they would greatly increase the profits over the next year or two. He said the $6 million a year Piñon was making dropped to just $1.5 million last year because of the freeway construction. With the bridge over Highway 50 completed, he said he expects business to rebound.

As part of the financing package approved by the commission Thursday, Roark said there will be some funding to pay for and convert the old Safeway store building near the Elko Airport into Nevada's third Gold Dust West casino.

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at or 687-8750.


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