WEEKLY FEATURE: Legends Bay Casino Breathes New Life into Reno-Sparks Market

Legends Bay Casino held a grand opening ceremony (l.) August 30, which was 15 years in the making for parent company Olympia Gaming. The property represents the first new-construction casino in the area in nearly 30 years, and features over 600 slots, 10 tables and a sportsbook operated by Circa Sports.

WEEKLY FEATURE:  Legends Bay Casino Breathes New Life into Reno-Sparks Market

After a decade of planning and development, Legends Bay Casino in Sparks, Nevada held its grand opening August 30, becoming the first new casino to open in the Reno-Sparks area in more than 20 years.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held prior to the property opening its doors for the first time—among those in attendance were Gary Goett and Court Cardinal, CEO and regional president of Legends’ parent company Olympia Gaming, Sparks Mayor Ed Lawson and Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak, among others.

Sisolak told the Reno Gazette-Journal that the occasion was “a great night for all of Nevada,” and Goett said that although it was “somewhat long in coming,” he was “very excited to be here and share this project with the community.”

Lawson previously served as a city councilman for many years before becoming mayor, and he watched the entire process unfold, starting with Olympia’s acquisition of the site nearly 15 years ago. After substantial hiccups from both the Great Recession and the Covid-19 pandemic caused the development to transform numerous times, he was proud to see the project finally come to fruition, especially given the fact that it took place in Sparks, which doesn’t get nearly as much attention as Reno.

Another reason why the project has been popular among state and local officials is that it was built without the use of STAR bonds—short for Sales Tax Anticipation Revenue —which allow governments to allocate state money to fund development projects based on anticipated future sales tax. This method has been used for other recent projects in the area, such as the Reno Aces stadium as well as the Outlets at Legends complex, which is connected to Legends Bay.

The casino provides about 300 jobs, which is a substantial number in a market such as Reno-Sparks.

Although the market is rather small compared to Las Vegas, competition is still high, especially given the fact that the other existing casinos in the area have built loyal customer bases for decades. However, Olympia feels that Legends Bay has several new amenities that will make it stand out from the crowd—its sportsbook, which is operated by Las Vegas-based Circa Sports, is chief among them.

Circa CEO Derek Stevens was at the opening ceremony, and told the RGJ that his company was “excited about our first investment in Northern Nevada.”

“By giving Reno-Sparks customers one more sportsbook to play with, it gives them another option which I think is going to be great for locals and our business,” he added.

In all, the casino cost approximately $130 million, which is a substantial investment, but is still well below Oympia’s original estimates. Legends Bay was originally slated to feature its own resort, but shortly after the project broke ground, the company changed gears and decided to open two non-gaming hotels instead until revenue streams regenerated. Those properties, a Hampton Inn and Residence Inn, opened in 2018.

Legends Bay will look to build a customer base in the local market but is also expecting sizable interest from surrounding areas as well. Cardinal, who also oversees Casino Fandango in Carson City, expects a large number of Fandango patrons to make the hour-long trip. He told the Nevada Independent that the new property “really is the buzz of Northern Nevada.”

In all, the 80,000 square-foot property features 665 machines, 10 tables and five dining options, including an indoor food truck pavilion with three trucks.