Fitzgeralds Closes Its Doors After More Than 30 Years

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More than four hundred people are without jobs after the closing of Fitzgeralds Hotel and Casino in downtown Reno.

Some employees had worked at Fitzgeralds for more than 30 years. Now, they're going to have to find new jobs during a struggling economy.

At around 4pm Fitzgeralds officially closed its doors. Employees grabbed one last pay check and said goodbye.

"I'm sorry it's going," said Kimberly Blasutta, a game's dealer. "And I'm sorry that all of the employees are out of work. We had great employees. Ones you don't find everywhere and I think it's sad to see this business close."

Two months ago, management told employees that the hotel would be shut down for redevelopment. But several regular customers had no idea the hotel was closing until they tried to open the locked front door.

"It's kind of unbelievable," said Richard Young, a Fitzgeralds regular. "I've lived in Lake Tahoe for 35 years and I've come to this place for all that time and it's hard to believe it's shutting down."

"I'm going to miss it," said John Arnott, another Fitzgeralds regular. "It's a good place to play."

Fitzgeralds president Robert Cashell Jr says the decision to close was a difficult one, but with a new ballpark and other nearby businesses popping up he believes redevelopment and a decreasing emphasis on gaming is necessary for the city's future.

"We certainly didn't make this decision lightly," said Cashell. "But given the status of the economy and where downtown redevelopment is headed, we think this property can play a strategic role in the future of Reno and now seems like the right time to undertake that direction."

But which direction the more than 400 employees will go is anyone's guess.

"(Our) situation is pretty bad right now," said Blasutta. "Right before Christmas and we're out of a job and right now the economy is so bad that it's hard to find a job. We're just going to be out of work and hoping to find something else."

Fitzgeralds Hotel & Casino opened in 1976.

A Boutique hotel will likely open in its place in about three years.