Binion's hotel to close tower

Dec 1, 2009 1:31 AM

But casino, sports book to stay open

The historic Binion’s Gambling Hall & Hotel, once a beacon in downtown Las Vegas, will close its 365-room hotel tower beginning Dec. 14 and lay off about 100 workers, a property spokeswoman confirmed on Tuesday.

Spokeswoman Lisa Robinson said the tower is being shut down because of the continued downturn in the economy, which has depressed hotel occupancy.

Additionally, Binion’s will close its Original Coffee Shop, which was once a Mecca for the downtown lunch and dinner crowd. The casino will also discontinue keno, she said.

She added that the casino, sports book, poker room, the casino floor cafes, as well as Binion’s Ranch Steakhouse on the 24th floor of the hotel will remain open.

Robinson said the decision to close the hotel tower was made last Friday, and no decision has been made determining when the rooms might reopen.

"We have been actively analyzing every aspect of our operation and looking at our costs, especially those that were significant cost drains," Robinson said in a local newspaper account. "The hotel rooms simply could not remain competitive in this market. We had to make some necessary, but unfortunate, decisions in order to keep the remaining parts of the property operational."

The property was founded as Binion’s Horseshoe by Vegas icon Benny Binion in 1951. For most of its existence, the casino thrived, catering to the highest rollers, and hosting the World Series of Poker since its inception. One of the features of the casino was a display of $1 million in cash.

Harrah’s bought the property in 2004 from the Binion family. Harrah’s resold the hotel/casino, but retained the "Horseshoe" name, which they branded in other markets, as well as the World Series of Poker.