Las Vegas Sun

November 27, 2021

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Busted slot joint’s rebirth?

Dotty’s chain picks peculiar time to try to reopen NLV gaming establishment

This Place

Sam Morris

The Gambler Casino, once partially owned by Max Baer Jr. of “Beverly Hillbillies” fame, could soon reopen under the Dotty’s name.

To call this tiny 39-year-old slot joint, formerly named the Beverly Hillbillies Gambler Casino, dilapidated would be a compliment.

Pigeons picking at candy wrappers flutter about the front stoop, underneath the red 1980s awning with the cowboy boot logo.

Peek through the dirty tinted-glass doors along Lake Mead Boulevard in North Las Vegas and you’ll see a gutted interior. The front of the bar has been torn off and insulation has fallen from the walls to the ripped carpet.

Notably, there are no slot machines.

But they may soon be returning.

Dotty’s, a chain of mini casinos in the Las Vegas Valley, wants to remodel and reopen the casino.

For all its minuses, the property does have something going for itself. The half-acre site has long been a gaming enterprise district, meaning new ownership would not need to go through the long and costly process of winning the city’s approval to conduct gaming.

“We’re trying to get this outdated, dilapidated, perhaps even blighted, building up to current standards,” George Garcia, a consultant representing Dotty’s, told planning commissioners recently.

And they are doing it at a time when gaming companies are reeling from the recession and fending off bankruptcy filings.

Garcia says Dotty’s sees a chance for long-term growth in North Las Vegas, which has been one of the fastest-growing cities in the country for the past decade.

The city would be thrilled to see anything at the corner, less than a half-mile from City Hall. North Las Vegas has big plans to revamp its aging downtown. But the recession has delayed several major projects.

“It will definitely improve the site,” said Frank Fiori, the city’s planning and zoning director. “They are going to redo the landscaping as much as they can and redo the exterior of building.”

For now the vacant 3,500-square-foot storefront is flanked by a small insurance office and a beauty salon offering $25 manicures, “cash only.”

Still, it has a history.

In 2005 Max Baer Jr., the man who played Jethro Bodine on “The Beverly Hillbillies,” received a gaming license as a 10 percent owner of the casino and gave it the name.

He acknowledged he had been to the place only twice.

He would have seen 30 slot machines and a small restaurant.

Most recently another company owned the casino until it closed this year.

Next up is Dotty’s, which has a history of running small casinos.

The roughly 20 Dotty’s in the region are owned by Nevada Restaurant Services Inc., a company run by Richard C. Estey.

The media-shy Estey also owns a chain of Dotty’s in Oregon.

The feeling of a Dotty’s is simple. They are small, no-frills slot joints with a tiny restaurant attached. They are also known to sell cheap cigarettes.

“It’s a place where you can go in and do gaming and smoke and drink and they feel there is potential on the corner,” Fiori said.

Simple enough.

And good enough compared with what’s now there.

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