Although Reno, Nevada was the gambling capital of the United States before the 1960s, the rapid expansion and growth of Las Vegas has caused a severe downturn in the Reno gaming industry. Added to Reno’s troubles are also the high rate of growth in California’s Indian gaming sector, while American Airlines’ buyout of Reno Air caused the area to become downgraded to an airport spoke rather than a central hub – meaning that fewer and fewer people would be directed to Reno on their regular flight path.
Since American Airlines’ complete disposal of the Reno Air fleet in 2001, many old casinos in the city have been either closed or torn down. Famous names such as the Mapes, Harold’s Club, Nevada Club, and Palace Club are now only empty lots, while smaller casinos such as the Riverboat, King’s Inn, Golden Phoenix, Cornstock, Virginian, Money Tree, and the Sundowner exist only in memory – abandoned buildings rest where a bustling swath of casinos once cut their way through the center of town.
There are currently only two local casinos which have experienced any amount of significant growth, and these are the Atlantis Casino and The Peppermill. In 2005, the Peppermill began a $300-million expansion project on their hotel, intending to create a Tuscan-style atmosphere and theme – including such things as a 600-room hotel tower completely composed of suites, as well as a resort-style pool complex, restaurants, lounges, and 62,000 sq.ft. of convention space. In fact, the Peppermill was also named the most outstanding Reno gaming property by both Nevada and Casino Player magazines.
Fortunately for the area, although gaming has certainly decreased, the city has moved toward holding larger events throughout the course of the year, which have been received with great success. Events such as the classic car convention and rally called ‘Hot August Nights’, as well as an annual ‘Great Reno Balloon Race’ each September, have greatly increased tourism to the area and has seen a move toward revitalization of Reno’s downtown. The city is slowly becoming friendlier to tourists, and it is hoped that this trend will continue as Reno’s annual events grow even larger each year.