Sands to expand Dayton casinos

The Sands of Reno won approval Wednesday of its plan to buy and expand the Depot Casino and Redhawk Sports Bar in Dayton.

Sands Regent President Ferenc Szony said the company will spend $2 million to refurbish and upgrade both restaurant-bar and casinos areas. He said the food menus will be upgraded as well, using themes similar to Rail City casino in Sparks, which Sands Regent also owns.

"We think getting involved in Dayton is going to be a spectacular opportunity for us," he told the Gaming Commission, which voted unanimously to approve the purchase.

Szony praised the quality and efforts of the current staff of about 70, saying the goal was to keep as many of those workers as possible while giving them an improved facility. That includes Debra Vaughan, who will remain as general manager of the depot and the Redhawk, which is just across Highway 50.

She said she expects to keep and attract more good people, especially since the Sands is able to offer employee benefits.

Financial officer Robert Medeiros told the board Dayton is one of the fastest growing towns in the seventh fastest growing county in the nation and that Sands executives believe the $10.7 million purchase of the two casinos is an excellent investment in a rapidly growing market.

Szony pointed out that SlotWorld, which operates a casino in Carson City, is also building a new club in Dayton.

"We believe it is something that can be grown," he said during the Gaming Control Board hearing earlier this month.

Szony told the Gaming Commission the same thing Wednesday, adding there is open land with the Depot casinos that would accommodate expansion.

With the approval Wednesday, Szony said improvements to the two facilities will begin as soon as title is transferred Sept. 1 from Carson City businessman Clete Wandler. The $10.1 million deal was announced in March.

In addition, the commission approved a gaming license for the Loper family to open Chukars Sports Casino across from the Pilot Truck Stop in Fernley.

Lenard "Red" Loper, who was licensed as general manager of the new casino, said it is adjacent to a planned Holiday Inn project and will open with 156 slot machines. He said the theme of the casino is "sports, sports, sports" and they are in negotiations with a race and sportsbook provider now.

Chukars will also have a bar and grill seating up to 110. Loper said they intend to focus on the locals market but will get some business from truckers and tourists using Interstate 80 as well. The casino will be located within view of the interchange connecting I-80 to Fernley.

-- Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at or 687-8750.


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