Ellis Island Casino’s Legal Battle with F1 over Las Vegas Grand Prix Damages


In the bustling, neon-streaked heart of the Las Vegas entertainment district, the glimmering Ellis Island Casino is engaged in a heated legal battle with none other than Formula One (F1), the highly esteemed institution of global motor racing. A part of Las Vegas’ pulsating nightlife, the casino is appealing for sizeable financial reparations for damages it alleges were incurred during last year’s explosive inauguration of the Las Vegas Grand Prix.

Last month, the legal paperwork was submitted and formally brought to light last Friday by the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The casino is seeking upwards of $50,000 in damages, and is not just taking aim at F1, but the local Clark County and the State of Nevada as well.

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The crux of Ellis Island’s argument holds that last year’s Grand Prix, along with a substantial six months of equipment setup and dismantle, critically barricaded both employees and patrons from accessing its establishment. Found on Koval Lane, mere steps from F1’s $500 million permanent paddock building, the casino’s complaints are not without geographical weight.

The stakes heightened the night prior to the first Grand Prix practice round when, as stated in the lawsuit, Ellis Island’s overnight operations team received strict instructions from F1 or its counterpart with a non-negotiable notice: a three-hour shutdown of staff and patron ingress and egress.

Further grievances filed within the lawsuit include a reproach against the county for designating the Grand Prix as a ‘special event’ without F1 requiring a special usage permit. Additionally, the suit criticized F1 for priming publicity for the forthcoming Grand Prix event prior to the county hosting a synopsis meeting to review and reflect on the inaugural race.

In an ironic twist, Ellis Island was an eager sponsor of the Grand Prix, constructing a 1,000-seat grandstand in their own parking lot for an optimum race viewing experience. Reportedly, the casino had shelled out an ostentatious but kept-under-wraps sum for this, charging anxious race fans a cool $1,500 for a three-day pass.

Christina Ellis, Ellis Island’s Vice President of Development, expressed the casino’s initial enthusiasm for the race to the Nevada Independent last year. She said, “We saw the value of Formula One… we knew we wanted to find a way to get involved… we got into conversations pretty early on how we could be good neighbors.”

This is not the first time F1 has faced a lawsuit over the Las Vegas Grand Prix. In November of last year, a disgruntled cadre of 35,000 fans filed a class-action lawsuit of their own, aggrieved about being ousted from the grandstand due to a postponed practice round they had paid a pretty penny to see.

Undoubtedly, echoes of unrest still resound. In February, over a dozen neighboring businesses near the circuit threatened to sue F1 for a crippling $30 million in lost revenue due to race preparations severing their standard customer flow. No legal petitions have been logged on their behalf as of yet, but a Change.org plea for the Clark County Commission to deny a special usage permit for this year’s Grand Prix did circulate, signed by six of the businesses.

As of now, all eyes are on the upcoming Las Vegas Grand Prix, slated to screech into the city from Nov. 21-23, amidst the unresolved discord and impending legal showdown.