In July 2022, Red Rock Resorts announced its purchase of 126 acres of land south of the Strip. This purchase cost over $170 million.
Although the buyer was a casino developer, there were no plans for the land near Cactus Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard. But, it was perfect for casino gaming expansion.
The casino developer even hinted that the land was perfect for a casino resort. Before this purchase, Red Rock owned over 420 acres of land in Reno and Las Vegas. Red Rock would have constructed a new casino resort on the new piece of land, replacing the ones shattered by the Coronavirus pandemic.
Yet, this was still a dream, far from being achieved, until recently. Nevada lawmakers have amended a law that would have stopped Red Rocks from building a casino on the 126 acres of land south of the Strip.
SB266 Changes Everything
According to a report on the Nevada Independent website, Nevada lawmakers have changed a law that would have blocked the construction of a casino on 25 acres of the 126 acres recently purchased by Red Rock Resorts.
SB 266 changed a 26-year-old law limiting casino construction near a school, church, or religious venues. Ideally, the law suggested that a casino needed to be 1,500 feet away from a school or worship venue.
Unfortunately, 25 of the 126 acres acquired by Red Rocks were inside the restricted perimeter. The 25 acres are less than 1,500 feet from the Dennis Ortwein Elementary School.
The report by the Nevada Independent indicates that lawmakers made changes to the law without consulting the public. Moreover, these changes happened last minute.
Ideally, Nevada lawmakers had 120-day legislative sessions this year. Yet, they waited until the second last day to make changes to the gaming enterprise district law.
This news came more than a month later after the changes happened. In other words, SB 266 was introduced on June 5, 2023. The Assembly voted on it the following day, 40 passing it and 2 opposing the changes.
The Senate also approved the amended bill shortly before midnight. Governor Joe Lombardo signed the bill into law on June 13, 2023.
A Perfect Loophole
Amending a bill to fit a casino developer’s goal is not new. Wynn Resorts has also benefited from such amendments before.
This happened when the lawmakers amended the 1997 law, allowing Wynn Resorts to move a piece of land into a gaming zone to allow it to build Encore casino.
The former Desert Inn Gold Course was less than 1,500 feet from a Catholic church. However, lawmakers decided that the Desert Inn Super Arterial was a sufficient barrier between the Catholic church and the now Encore casino.
Now, a similar amendment to the law was introduced by Assemblywoman Shea Backus. She suggested that an interstate highway should be a significant barrier between a gaming zone and a church or school.
In this case, Interstate 15 separates Red Rock’s land from Ortwein Elementary. Through its spokesperson Michael Britt, Red Rock Resorts also agrees that an interstate highway should serve as a barrier.