New Life for Lake Las Vegas?

When Casino MonteLago closed in March 2010, followed by the neighboring Ritz-Carlton that May, it was unclear whether MonteLago Village at Lake Las Vegas would ever recover. Foot traffic at the village dropped dramatically and some smaller shops shut their doors. But in February the Ravella hotel opened at the Ritz-Carlton site, and on May 26, the comeback gained crucial momentum when Casino MonteLago reopened.

Two nights later, the casino was packed, and patrons had to wait to get a table at any of the village’s restaurants. With the casino now under the ownership of Intrepid Gaming, a renewed optimism is prevalent throughout the village. “We needed somebody who believes that the area needs to work as a team,” says Chris Colby, who manages the village’s Black Pepper Grill.

The casino opened with about 275 slot machines and about a half-dozen electronic table games. The table games are complete with busty virtual dealers—a disconcerting novelty that players didn’t seem to mind on opening weekend. There are no live table games, which may not directly help employment figures a whole lot. But for the village, the potential benefits seem clear—the more feet on its pathways, the more jobs saved in its shops and eateries.

The opening helped create the big splash Lake Las Vegas has needed. Of course, grand openings—especially when they fall on holiday weekends—are bound to be splashy. Now we just have to wait and see how long the area can ride that wave.

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When Norm Schilling was waiting to be fired from the city dump for selling salvaged goods on the side, he knew he was going to have to find another job. He observed trucks full of grass and plant materials making runs there and thought that landscaping was a job he could do. So he threw a mower, a blower and a weed whacker into the back of his truck and went into business for himself. After taking classes on lawn care and other landscaping matters, he soon developed a passion for horticulture.