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Circa CEO Derek Stevens said his Circa Resort & Casino pays homage to Las Vegas’ past and will launch a national ad campaign starting Tuesday ahead of the Oct. 28th opening and hopes his property drives additional traffic to the city even to view and bet on sports.

The Nevada Gaming Commission Thursday signed off on the licensing of the Circa Resort & Casino to open its gaming floor, racebook and sportsbook on Oct. 28th two months before its 44-story hotel opens by Dec. 28th at the latest.

Stevens said they are excited about opening in less than five weeks and told the commission the project is a culmination of his many visits to Las Vegas over the years. 

“Circa is a project for me that encapsulates many trips and many years of visiting Las Vegas and living in Las Vegas,” Stevens said. “When we look at what Circa represents, it was designed and built to respect and revere the great history of Las Vegas. I have visited Las Vegas from the late 1980s until 2006 when I moved out here. I visited for many sporting events and trade shows and conventions. I had some of those moments I’ll never forget.”

Stevens said that includes taking that one-way escalator into Caesars Palace, watching a prize fight on the exterior of the property, seeing the Superbook at the Las Vegas Hilton for the first time. In more recent times, it was seeing the Bellagio fountains for the first time, he said.

“All those moments impacted the design and thought process of what Las Vegas was all about,” Stevens said. 

Stevens said the national ad campaign will start Tuesday on the Major League Baseball playoffs.

“When we open, there is a scene where an actor opens a window from an airplane and you see the lights of Las Vegas,” Stevens said. “That is a moment for me that I will never forget. When you come over the mountains and see those lights of Las Vegas, it’s something special that happens to those people on the plane. We provided a hotel resort casino that provides the opportunity for those moments to happen. Those moments when someone who visits our great city and says ‘look at this, and I gotta take a picture of this.’ That’s what we tried to do with our stadium swim — our outdoor aquatheater (with six pools). That’s what we tried to do with our (three-story) sportsbook that will be the world’s largest at three stories and the most amount of seating (1,000) and most amount of pixels (78 million).”

The two-story casino measures 1.25 million square feet

and will feature 1,350 slot machines and 49 table games. It has five bars and six restaurants and 777 hotel rooms when all are completed in the 44-story property.

“We feel what has transpired in downtown Las Vegas and visitation that this is the right project in the right location and even at this point at the right time,” Stevens said.

Circa said the resort will help drive traffic to downtown and hopefully to Las Vegas as well. He said it’s good for downtown when any property has events and conferences that drive traffic.

“I believe Circa will be accretive to all of these properties in downtown Las Vegas, and I hope it is accretive to all of Las Vegas,” Stevens said. “I still remember the days you have MGM, Aria, Cosmo and Hard Rock. I know back in those days when I wasn’t living here you would want to put it on your calendar. You wanted to come to Las Vegas.”

Stevens said he hopes his sportsbook attracts visitors. He admits he has a gambler’s mentality and told the commission he came to Las Vegas to many major sporting events to attend, watch and bet in a setting that can’t be duplicated across the country. That’s what he did with his sportsbook design, he said.

Circa has set an age limit of 21 with identification checked at the four entrances. The exception will be a steakhouse on the bottom floor where the person under 21 will be escorted in and out of the property by staff.

“We believe by having a resort casino that is over 21 only, allows us to focus on a spectacular customer environment,” Stevens said. “When someone walks up to a blackjack table or one of our bars they don’t have to dig into their wallet to show their ID. And when someone visits stadium swim it’s not that anybody has anything against someone under 21, sometimes mom and dad want to come out and not get splashed at the pool. … We think we can take it to the next level as far as customer experience.”

Stevens said the 21 limitation hasn’t been done by other properties in the last 40 years or so because Circa isn’t leveraged to filling hotel rooms with only 777 compared to 3,000 to 6,000.

“With that many hotel rooms, it is a difficult business decision to give up that demand,” Stevens said. “As a company, we made a business decision that we will give up some of the hotel room revenue to create a spectacular customer experience for our guests.”

Circa will open with seven shelved hotel floors and a decision will be made on finishing those out after a year of operation, Stevens said. That will help determine if they need to be standard rooms, one-bedroom or two-bedroom suites, he added.

Stevens said it will open 1,500 employees. They have 1,100 now but have delayed hiring with the hotel since it won’t open until December.

About the Author

Buck Wargo

Buck Wargo is a former journalist with the Los Angeles Times and has been based in Las Vegas as a business, real estate and gaming reporter since 2005.

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