I heard MGM Resorts International sold the Gold Strike. So what happens to it now?
Let’s start with clarity: We’re talking about the Gold Strike casino, about 30 miles south of Las Vegas in Jean, not the Gold Spike in downtown Las Vegas. The former was recently acquired by Jett Gaming; the latter was purchased by the Downtown Project, and subsequently stripped of its gaming activity (although the license remains active) in a renovation that traded craps for cornhole. But that’s another conversation.
Out in the desert between Vegas and Primm, MGM-Mirage (as it was then known) obtained two Jean casinos in its 2005 acquisition of Mandalay Resorts. The Gold Strike opened in 1987, inspired by the success of Pop’s Oasis—Jean’s small casino rest stop launched in 1947 by Peter “Pop” Simon, and remembered for its longtime display of the Bonnie and Clyde “death car.” Across Interstate 15, Nevada Landing opened in 1989.
If two casinos in the middle of the desert seem a highly improbable undertaking to the post-recession mindset, consider this: Things were so good around the middle of the last decade that, just down the road from the Gold Strike, a new Ivanpah Valley Airport was proposed, and in 2007, MGM-Mirage revealed plans to remake Jean into a 166-acre bedroom community for Las Vegas. It would feature housing and commercial developments, as well as a new casino-resort. Toward this end, Nevada Landing closed in April 2007 and was subsequently razed.
It was remarkable to imagine this overflowing of Las Vegas toward the state line. But by 2008, the country was seeing the first signs of a debilitating economic crisis, and as anyone who drives I-15 south knows, nothing obvious has changed on the Jean landscape since.
So, it’s a good thing Jett Gaming has been approved by the Gaming Commission to complete its purchase. Jett is owned by members of the Herbst family; their longtime residency, combined with experience in both gaming and gasoline sales, makes their recently released plans—to renovate the property with less emphasis on gaming, and to build a huge travel plaza, rest stop and food court—very viable.
That said, the Gold Strike and its surrounding property offer loads of unrealized potential that the Herbsts can explore. Rather than an unimaginative clone of a Las Vegas resort, how about a unique desert traveler outpost? Picture it: a boutique hotel, RV park (there are none left on the Strip!), food-truck plaza, outdoor amphitheater, a coffeehouse, a brew pub—all things that would draw in the Harley riders and road-trip crowds that desire either just a taste of Vegas or a nearby escape from it. Hey, it works for Boulder City!