Say goodbye to the sports-themed casino you never knew - for now

Marc Meltzer
There was a fairly big transaction in Downtown Las Vegas announced on Friday, August 14. The Las Vegas Club was sold by owners The Tamares Group and operators PlayLV to Derek and Greg Stevens the owners of The D.

Derek Stevens and his brother own The D, part of Golden Gate and are former owners of the Las Vegas 51's which are now the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate. The Tamares Group took over the Las Vegas Club in 2002 when owner Jackie Gaughan agreed to sell the casino and three other properties in Downtown Las Vegas, including the Plaza casino and Gold Spike casino to Barrick Gaming, which had a partnership with The Tamares Group.

Here's a little known fact about the Las Vegas Club: In 1931 they installed the first neon sign on a hotel casino and the second neon sign in the Las Vegas (the first Las Vegas neon sign was in 1927 at the Oasis Restaurant).

Las Vegas Club Sports history


In recent years, the Las Vegas Club fell on hard times. They closed part of their casino floor as well as their hotel which had 400 rooms. The remainder of the casino was said to often have an unappealing scent. This is the only casino in Downtown Las Vegas that I've never been inside of, in part because of the scent.

The Las Vegas Club was the only casino in Las Vegas with a sports theme. The “Sports Hall of Fame” was probably their biggest attraction. When the casino was renovated in 1997, the 18,000-square-foot casino floor was designed with the feel of an old-time ballpark. There was vintage memorabilia spread all over the casino, including a game-used Jackie Robinson bat, a Roy Campanella jersey, Maury Wills' spikes and hundreds of other autographed items from all sports.

The sale of Las Vegas Club was specifically for the real estate and the building. The Stevens brothers did not buy the name, gaming equipment or the customer database. The new property will have their signature on it and I hope they create a new sports themed casino. I'm of the mind that there’s a distinct possibility that they will keep at least some of that history from the Las Vegas Club.

About Derek Stevens

If you follow Las Vegas news even a little you know Derek Stevens is a sports fan. Besides his previous ownership of a minor league baseball team, he’s a sports bettor. On December 5, 2013 he placed a $20,000 wager with the Golden Nugget that the Michigan State Spartans would win the 2015 NCAA College Basketball tournament. He placed the wager when they were 50/1 long shots and would have been paid $1,000,000 if they won it all. Needless to say, he didn’t win the bet.

Stevens, a Michigan native, can often be found hanging out at The Long Bar at The D watching teams from Michigan or just about any major sporting event. The D is host to one of the best March Madness viewing parties in Downtown Las Vegas every year. This year, The D is introducing “Man Caves” for football season.

Stevens isn’t just a sports fan but he’s very nostalgic. The D is home to one of two vintage Sigma Derby machines in Las Vegas (the other is at MGM Grand). The D is also home to a Vintage Vegas casino on the second floor while the Golden Gate Hotel and Casino has a collection of very vintage slot machines in its lobby. Taking vintage slot machines another step, Stevens purchased the slot machines from the Riviera when it was closed, so there’s no short supply of vintage Vegas slots in his warehouse.

The future Las Vegas Club

The Las Vegas Club name will be erased from the property but there's no reason the memory has to also be gone. Stevens is the perfect casino operator to open the new mecca of sports gambling in Downtown Las Vegas. The Las Vegas Club building has the space and Stevens has the interest to make it happen.

Las Vegas Club closed its sportsbook a while ago and, as of the writing of this article, William Hill (operators of The D and Plaza sports books) doesn’t have plans to do anything with the new property. That doesn't mean that won't happen in the future. The Plaza sportsbook is currently one of the largest in Downtown Las Vegas.

This deal happened so quickly that there aren’t plans for reopening. Stevens will now evaluate the property before making any decisions on how to move forward. He mentioned on Twitter that he expects to have at least a rough idea on the future plans for the property around mid-October. It will reopen in the future after whatever renovations are planned. Whatever renovations are planned for the property, Stevens plans to offer 10x odds craps and 3:2 blackjack.

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Posted by oldtexx
1 year ago

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Posted by oldtexx
1 year ago

Had hoped for a revival of the ole girl, and now it will happen...Many good memories of writing the 2.5 r/l and fighting the smoke, back in the 90's.....Just never the same, after Mel...
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Posted by LeRinkRat
1 year ago

fair well to the Great Mel Exber's Las Vegas Club which at one time was THE place to book baseball in Las Vegas. Mel had been a minor league pitcher at one time and baseball was his sport hence the "baseball park" motif after the 1980's renovations. when I was flying a week on-weekoff schedule of overnight freight back in the mid 1980's, the Mrs and I used to come out to Las Vegas for a week at a time at least once a month. we would stay at Jackie Gaughan's (at that time) Union Plaza BUT spent a lot of time across the street at Mel's joint esp during baseball season. all of downtown back then was right out of a Damon Runyon short story with the characters you would meet and I'm sure that Runyon, if he had lived in the 1970's and 80's instead of the 1930's and 40's, would have been hanging on the corner of Fremont & Main instead of on midtown Broadway in New York. I MISS "Old Las Vegas"
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Posted by sports_Network
1 year ago

nice read....Downtown will always be 'downtown' remember; they were shooting craps 30 years before the Flamingo opened. and till today, DOWNTOWN captures what is left of the mystic 'old school' LV aka the Freemont Street experience. take care LRR
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Top Response

Posted by LeRinkRat
1 year ago

"fair well to the Great Mel Exber's Las Vegas Club which at one time was THE place to book baseball in Las Vegas. Mel had been a minor league pitcher at one time and baseball was his sport hence the "baseball park" motif after the 1980's renovations. ..."