Neighborhood Gaming Fought by Neighbors

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A proposal to relocate a downtown casino to a west Reno neighborhood is angering some residents there and raising larger questions about gaming's place in our community.

This sounds like a zoning issue and casinos are currently restricted to certain areas - but this isn't one of them.

But it's owners say the city is making them move somewhere and this is the best of their options.

This starts with the downtown train trench.

Two casino properties . . . the Reno Turf Club and the Old Reno Casino . . . were condemned to make way for the trench.

They want to take their gaming licenses elsewhere and that's causing alarm in some neighborhoods.

Says homeowner Dr. Tracy Pitts, "The safety of our children is paramount."

Some of these people fought a similar - but losing battle - against the new WalMart in northwest Reno . . . and on some of the same issues. These include increased traffic and safety concerns.

But the prospect of a casino nearby for some raises new issues.

"In my opinion casinos are no better than drug dealers," says resident Royle Melton.

And it raises different arguments, what with the city investing so much in downtown redevelopment . . . why do they want to follow me home.

"If we can't keep them downtown, what can we keep downtown?, " asked resident Susan Smith.

But the Reno Turf Club had little choice, but to move. Caught in the path of the train trench, its owners - the Cal Neva - worked out a condemnation agreement.

Now, partnering with the Eldorado, it wants to build a new Turf Club - with 250 slot machines, sports book, restaurants and ice cream parlor - near the intersection of McCarran & West Fourth Street.

They feel the city pledged to help, not hinder, its relocation.

"Allowing us to relocate is a simple matter of fairness," says Jeff siri of the Club Cal-Neva.

City officials were quick to say they agreed to help, but gave no carte blanche promises. And the council was wary of any policy changes that might open the door for other casinos in other neighborhoods.

They left things as they are.

So, the Turf Club will be seeking a special use permit and we will hear this debate again.

The next round is before the Regional Planning Commission on October 15th.

There are two other neighborhood casino proposals in the pipeline. One carries the unlimited gaming license of the Old Reno Casino . . . also condemned because of the train trench.

There are other areas already zoned for casino development. Why not relocate there?

A good question.
Obviously they want to pick the best spot for their business. In the case of the Turf Club, they say the other locations are too expensive, mostly developed or already being used by the Cal Neva or Eldorado for other ventures.