Infamous Las Vegas Casino, The Western, Sparks Market Interest as Gaming License Renews

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Once known as one of the eeriest gambling havens of Las Vegas, The Western, a casino with enduring infamy, has once again emerged on the market, four years following the demise of its renowned final proprietor. This startling revelation, nestling alongside echoes of its dramatic past, opens a new chapter in The Western’s storied saga.

Decades back, in 1970, luminary casino magnate Jackie Gaughan along with his financial ally, Mel Exber, graced Fremont and 9th streets with The Western. Boasting an unprecedented array of 1,020 seats and an awe-inspiring 15,000 square feet of gaming expanse, it gained recognition as the globe’s largest bingo parlor. However, the sheer enormity was arguably the solitary feature that impressed the masses about The Western, as it languished as the most humble entity within Gaughan’s empire of affordable casinos. Gaughan’s dominion, which once consisted of the El Cortez, Plaza, Las Vegas Club, and Gold Spike, assigned The Western to its lowest tier.

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As the millennium reared its head, The Western appeared beleaguered and forgotten, with its once thrifty gaming tables now echoing tales of a past tarnished by beer stains and cigarette burns, etched into its fabric by the rough-and-ready local patrons. Harsh words from the Associated Press that same year likened this worn-out establishment to “a beacon for the broke and nearly broken.”

The subsequent shift in ownership saw Gaughan bid farewell to The Western, selling it to Barrick Gaming in 2004. Eight years later, The Western subsequently closed its doors in January 2012 under Tamares Real Estate. A New York-based entity, Tamares acquired control of The Western a year after Barrick via a lease agreement.

Cut to 2013, with the property changing hands for the sum of $14 million to a company associated with the Downtown Project, a revitalization squad spearheaded by Tony Hsieh, which had spent $350 million acquiring nearly 100 properties in and around East Fremont Street.

Rumors swirled of Hsieh contemplating the transformation of The Western into an e-sports arena. Yet, like so many of his grand visions, this too never quite materialized. Aside from tearing down the attached hotel, which had shut its doors two years prior, Hsieh’s untimely death in 2020 from a tragic fire accident left his ambitious plans for The Western unrealized.

But hope continues to flicker for this infamous establishment. According to Dara Goldsmith, the attorney representing Hsieh’s estate, they remain optimistic about the property’s future, hinting at its potential setup for redevelopment.

Further adding to the intrigue, the Western’s gambling license has been renewed for active use. Its tavern license with the city of Las Vegas also remains intact until February 2025, signifying the possibility for the casino to echo its raucous past once more.

Adding to the drama of this unfolding saga is the involvement of Logic Commercial Real Estate, the dealer managing the Western’s listing. Interestingly, Brendan Keating, who owns both Logic and Boston Omaha Asset Management, has recently drawn attention for handling the sale of multiple estate properties, including the Gold Spike & Oasis Hotel, the Downtowner Hotel, the John E. Carson building, and the Nacho Daddy Building from Hsieh’s estate. All these prime pieces of real estate changed hands for a cool $24.7 million.

This attention-grabbing transaction owes to the rather perplexing fact that Keating, in essence, sold the properties to himself, stirring the underlying tension and intrigue of what lies next for The Western in the heart of Las Vegas.