Reno casinos reopening: Silver Legacy, Peppermill, Bonanza back in business

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This is a breaking news story and will be updated:

Silver Legacy, Eldorado, Circus Circus back in business 

The Row, the trio of connected downtown Reno properties comprising the Eldorado Resort Casino, Silver Legacy Resort Casino and Circus Circus Reno, reopened on Thursday — in varying degrees.

Only the Silver Legacy is taking room reservations; about 50 percent of 1,600 total were booked for this weekend, according hotel officials.

When guests enter the casino’s antique-filled lobby — the single entrance for all three properties — they must first have their temperatures taken.

“We decided the Silver Legacy should be first because it’s in the middle of the other two properties and it has the most recently renovated rooms (completed earlier this year),” said Glenn Carano, who just came aboard as The Row general manager after working at other Eldorado Resorts Inc. casinos in the Midwest.

Slots are available at all three properties in the Row.

Table games are being offered at the Silver Legacy and Eldorado.

Along with safety measures across all three properties like masks, social distancing (reminder signs are everywhere), and deep cleaning, the tables are offering additional assurances.

“People have to sanitize their hands before playing,” Carano said. “For blackjack, the dealers are dealing face up so you don’t have to touch the cards.”

As for dining, mushroom ravioli, longtime signature dish of the Eldorado, are temporarily being served at Café Central in the Silver Legacy.

Besides Café Central, Ruth’s Chris Steak House and Sips Coffee and Tea in the Silver Legacy, Starbucks in the Eldorado is pouring, and Piezzetta Pizza Kitchen in the Circus Circus food court is slicing up pies upstairs from the Midway, which also is open. The Silver Baron Bar in the Silver Legacy is displaying a QR code at the entrance to scan for a menu so customers don’t have to touch physical drinks lists.

When the Silver Legacy reopened at 10 a.m., Carano greeted Olivia Partridge of Reno, the first customer in the door after 78 days, who made straight for the gaming floor, where she typically played pai gow once or twice a week in the Before Days.

“I’m thrilled to be back,” Partridge said. “I frequently make deposits to their pensions fund,” she said, laughing, of her pai gow play. “Every once in a while, I get to take something away.”

Jamie and Dan Lisanti of Santa Cruz, Calif., frequent visitors to the Silver Legacy, were also among the first guests to arrive this morning. The couple was staying at the property celebrating Dan Lisanti’s birthday when the governor ordered casinos closed on March 18; this trip marks Jamie Lisanti’s 42nd birthday.

Jamie Lisanti said they’d thought about potential crowds at the property, but after monthslong cleaning and sanitizing, “we figured this was the safest time to come because the casino has never been cleaner.”

Carano said The Row properties would especially rely on local and drive-market reopening proceeds “because the fly market is a little bit off. We just want everybody to come down. We are the city within a city.”

At the Bonanza, doughnuts and distancing 

It’s 8 a.m. in the parking lot of the Bonanza Casino on North Virginia Street. General manager Ryan Sheltra, whose family owns the casino, is handing out DoughBoys doughnuts and mimosas to welcome the first customers back to the property after being closed for 78 days.

The Bonanza is a locals’ spot: 95 percent of the customers live within a 20-mile radius, Sheltra said.

Inside the casino, folks will find much has changed.

Employees must have their temperatures taken and wear masks. Table games have been eliminated because they didn’t pencil out economically with social distancing. Slots have been pulled and rearranged to create safe separation. Machines will be sanitized as soon as players surrender the reels. A $5,000 disinfectant sprayer used by hospitals is on order.

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“What will drive customers in today’s environment isn’t chasing promotions or specials or free play,” Sheltra said. “Customers now will take their business where they feel safe.”

Thursday was the first day casinos were allowed to reopen in Nevada after Governor Steve Sisolak ordered them to shutter on March 17 to help curb the spread of COVID-19.

At the Bonanza, a line of 25 people waiting to enter had formed just before the 8 a.m. opening. Lindsay Yoshimura and his wife, who split their time between Reno and the Bay Area, were first in line. A few minutes later, Lindsay was at the slots.

“I was concerned about the spacing, but not now,” Yoshimura said, as he looked at how the slot machines had been arranged.

Russell Silvia of Reno sat several machines away. He’s a regular, he said, dropping by six days a week for coffee and slots and chat.

“It was rough,” he said of the Bonanza closure. “You have a routine you like to do.”

By 9 a.m., about 150 people were playing inside the casino.

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Sheltra, the general manager, said he’d been able to bring back about 160 of his 180 employees on staff before the coronavirus shutdown. Being a smaller, family-owned casino puts him in a solid position, he said, because he doesn’t have to rely on visitor traffic or filling hotel rooms.

Still, “the governor opening us up could not have come at a better time,” he said. “There is a lot we still don’t know, but there is also a lot of excitement around opening.”

At the Peppermill, a sell-out crowd

Less than two hours after the Peppermill Resort and Casino reopened Thursday morning, there was a wait to get into the casino’s poker room and the resort has already sold out its limited capacity for rooms for the upcoming weekend, which had been capped at 70 percent occupancy.

“We couldn’t be more pleased,” said Stephen Ascuaga, the Peppermill’s corporate director of business development, who said the crowd there on Thursday morning was from the whole region.

Walk into the Peppermill on Thursday, and things looked mostly normal — even relatively busy for a weekday morning.

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The most noticeable difference was the mask-clad staff and signs at the door encouraging social distancing and notifying guests their temperatures would be measured by thermal cameras.

Look closer though, and you’ll notice signs that the casino floor had been limited to 60 percent of its normal capacity.

Games are spaced out and slot machines in clusters are separated by plexiglass. In other areas, every other machine is turned off.

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The number of players allowed at table games has been cut down to three and there’s a semicircle of plexiglass separating the dealers from the public.

Staff is required to wear masks but patrons are not. At the Peppermill, most guests were maskless.

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The buffet, nightclub and valet parking are all currently closed and the pool is capped at 50 percent capacity.

Those restrictions — including the 70 percent room occupancy cap — will likely be eased as time passes, Ascuaga said.

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