‘Jethro’ close to ‘Hillbillies’ hotel/casino

May 8, 2007 7:34 AM


Former television actor Max Baer Jr. who played Jethro Bodine on the "The Beverly Hillbillies," plans to build a casino just outside Carson City using the theme from the hit TV show of the 1960s.

For nearly 20 years, Baer has been trying to build a Beverly Hillbillies casino. Most recently he bought a former Wal-Mart site in Carson City, but retailers in the shopping center wouldn’t approve a casino for fear it would soak up customers’ cash.

As a result of the busted $54 million deal, the vacant former Wal-Mart where Baer’s project was shot down could finally find a tenant.

Baer is selling the former Wal-Mart to pursue the new resort project south of Topsy Lane on the east side of U.S. 395, where he hopes to include a 240-room hotel with a casino about the size of Boomtown.

"They’ve not only lost this project, but where I’m going there will be a lot of retail stores," Baer said. "It has cost Carson City millions in lost tax revenue."

Baer blames the capital city’s loss on Carson City Supervisor Shelly Aldean, who represented the shopping center’s co-owner, Glenbrook Corp. Aldean worked with Baer when he proposed buying the Wal-Mart site, but could only get Glenbrook to agree to allow a casino if Baer signed a "put" agreement, stating that he would buy out the J.C. Penney store at the center if his casino caused it financial harm.

"I told Max at the time that we couldn’t tolerate the loss of another retailer from Carson City," Aldean said Friday. "Having lost revenue from Wal-Mart, we just couldn’t lose any more sales-tax dollars."

Baer is applying for approval from Douglas County for his hotel towers. At 69, he has been trying for nearly 20 years to put his television character’s name on a Northern Nevada casino, considering at times Stateline, Verdi, Reno and Carson City locations.

"I’ve lived in Douglas County since 1978 and I’ve wanted to build this casino for a long time," Baer said. "If I see an opportunity, I’m going to pursue it."

The first phase of Baer’s project includes a 40,000-square-foot gambling area with 800 slots and 16 tables, a showroom, cinema complex, five-story, 240-room hotel, arcade and "Grannys White Lightning Bar," according to project spokesman Don Smit.

Variances would be required for a proposed 200-foot oil derrick, and readerboard. Two 12-story, 240-room hotel towers and convention space are scheduled for future phases and will also need approval from Douglas County commissioners. A state gambling license also is required.

Baer started with plans for a casino in Stateline, on Lake Tahoe’s south shore, and then sought a Reno location. In 2003, he paid $4.3 million for the closed Wal-Mart store and parking lot in Carson City.

Negotiations with Park Lane Mall in Reno fell apart in 1999, but in 2005 he was licensed for a slots-only casino in North Las Vegas called The Beverly Hillbillies Gambler Casino.