Details of casino reopening at Lake Tahoe’s Cal Neva emerge
The Associated Press
RENO, Nev. – Gambling is expected to return soon on a limited basis to Frank Sinatra’s old resort at Lake Tahoe, 10 months after its casino was shut down amid a slump in gambling revenues.
The Cal Neva Lodge, which straddles the Nevada-California border on Tahoe’s north shore, hopes to again offer gambling on Jan. 28 after winning approval from state gambling regulators, said Grant Lincoln, CEO of Reno-based Strategic Gaming Management, a contractor that will oversee the resort’s gambling operations.
Plans call for the resort to initially offer 40 video poker and slot machines in the hotel lobby and a bar, he said. A casino with table games could eventually reopen if business is sufficient to support one, he added.
“It will all be driven by the market,” Lincoln told The Associated Press on Thursday. “It’s a difficult time for everyone involved in gambling. We’ll have to slowly rebuild it.”
The story was first reported by the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza.
The rest of the Cal Neva, including the hotel and restaurants, remained open after the casino and its table games ceased last March 31.
Sinatra owned the Cal Neva from 1960 to 1963 during its heyday, drawing fellow Rat Pack members Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and Peter Lawford, and stars such as Marilyn Monroe, Joe DiMaggio and Juliet Prowse.
Sinatra’s gambling license was stripped by the Nevada Gaming Control Board after Chicago mobster Sam Giancana was spotted on the premises.
Canyon Capital Realty Advisors based in Los Angeles took over the Cal Neva in 2009 after foreclosing on a $25 million loan to its prior owner, financier Ezri Namvar. He bought the resort from Chuck Bluth in 2005.
“It’s a legendary-type property, but obviously it’s been tarnished over the last couple of years,” Lincoln said. “The new ownership is in there doing a great job, but I think it’s going to take some crawl, walk, run situations to rebuild it. It won’t be easy, but it’s a lot easier to rebuild a property with a legendary quality.”
The Cal Neva is one of Nevada’s first legal casinos. The present resort was built in 1937, when a fire destroyed the original lodge that had opened in 1926.
Monroe spent her final weekend at the Cal Neva before she died of a drug overdose in Los Angeles in August 1962. The small cabin where she stayed still stands and is part of a tour offered by the resort.