Monday, Feb. 9, 1998 | 1:04 a.m.
The safari-themed Reserve Hotel-Casino is scheduled to open to the public at 10 p.m. following a media-VIP preview.
Henry Conversano, who designed the Mirage in Las Vegas and The Lost City at Sun City Resort Hotel and Casino in Sun City, South Africa, designed the area's newest gambling property.
The casino features re-creations of lush vegetation native to the African continent in addition to murals and statues of exotic animals set in a jungle motif.
The resort is focusing on the booming Henderson market, which has experienced an 88 percent increase in population between 1990 and 1996, making it the fastest-growing U.S. city with a population of more than 100,000. State estimates placed the city's 1997 population at 146,200.
The Reserve opens eight months after another Henderson property, Sunset Station. Both are looking to draw customers from the Boulder Strip, which generates customers along Boulder Highway from Las Vegas to Henderson. The area has recorded double-digit increases in gambling wins since the opening of Sunset Station.
The Reserve is built around an Indiana Jones-type Hollywood story line in which fictional character Congo Jack crash-lands his plane in an African setting.
The resort includes a 224-room hotel, 37,000 square feet of gambling space, four restaurants and three lounges.
The casino was delayed for more than three months in 1997 because of a dispute between Ameristar executives and two former stockholders of Gem Gaming Inc., which began the construction.
Ameristar bought the project from Gem in June 1996 for $106 million.
Ameristar owns casinos in Jackpot, Nev., Vicksburg, Miss. and Council Bluffs, Iowa.