Mona Shield Payne / Special to the Sun
Published Sunday, Oct. 27, 2013 | 7:42 p.m.
Updated Sunday, Oct. 27, 2013 | 7:58 p.m.
Steve Wynn lost $5,000 at the craps table, the first guest checked in and the Downtown Grand hotel and casino opened its doors to the public for the first time Sunday afternoon.
The opening comes six-and-a-half years after the closure of the Lady Luck, which was gutted by investor CIM Group and converted into the Downtown Grand.
Wynn is the former owner of downtown’s Golden Nugget but is now more known for being the creator and imagination behind the mega-resorts on the Strip.
Wynn has a strong connection to the Downtown Grand, however, because of his long association with Seth Schorr, CEO of Fifth Street Gaming and Downtown Grand Las Vegas Managers, which manages and operates the property.
Schorr recalled staying in the Golden Nugget when his family moved to Las Vegas decades ago. Wynn said the young man was so taken with the casino that his dad gave the 7-year-old the title vice president of kids' activities.
Wynn’s wife, Andrea, tossed the first of more than a dozen throws before Wynn’s stack of chips gave out. Marc Schorr, Seth's father, also lost $5,000 at the table.
Afterward, Wynn talked about downtown’s rebirth and about the Life is Beautiful festival that was happening at the same time as the opening from the unique perspective of someone involved in Las Vegas’ gaming for the past 47 years.
“The notion that Las Vegas can have a hip, affordable spot to go to, where the food is good, where the action is fun — we’re getting back to our roots,” Wynn said. “Fremont Street was always the place of lots of excitement. It was available to people of any income strata.
"As time has gone by, places have gotten more expensive and elaborate. There are more choices, which the public seems to want, more and more restaurants, more and more everything.”
With that, he said, something got lost.
“I really think the original magic of Las Vegas has been subordinated to this menu,” Wynn said. “I sort of miss that.”
The Downtown Grand fits 634 guest rooms that are 350 to 1,200 square feet. When in full operation, the hotel will employ 800 people.
Schorr has emphasized the difference between his casino, which offers multiple entrances, to the “mousetrap” model of the traditional Strip casino.
In a release announcing the opening, the casino was described this way: “Downtown Grand is poised to emerge as downtown Las Vegas’ new center of urban cool, while still retaining the charm, intrigue and appeal of the area’s rich history. … (It) breaks the rules of traditional casino design by encouraging hotel and casino patrons to explore the neighboring downtown area.”
The casino's ribbon cutting will be Nov. 12.
Joe Schoenmann doesn’t just cover downtown; he lives and works there. Schoenmann is Greenspun Media Group’s embedded downtown journalist, working from an office in the Emergency Arts building.