El Cortez is sprucing up!

Aug 7, 2007 3:54 AM

As the oldest casino in downtown Las Vegas, the El Cortez has enjoyed a colorful history, dating back to the 1940s, when Bugsy Siegel owned a piece of the action.

Since then the casino on Fremont Street has built a loyal following of casino customers, who enjoy value-priced gambling in a no-frills atmosphere.

Now, with the advent of the new Fremont East District, the El Cortez is undergoing renovations that will revitalize the hotel/casino in the months ahead.

By end of 2007, approximately $20 million in renovations will be completed at the property, including its newly remodeled porte cochere and valet entrance, 300 rooms and the addition of a $500,000 air-filtration system.

El Cortez is the anchor property for the aforementioned district that will also feature nightclubs, restaurants, lounges and pedestrian walkways between Las Vegas Boulevard and Eighth Street. Mayor Oscar Goodman will open Fremont East District on Friday, August 24, with a special ceremony.

"The renovations at El Cortez play a big part in the revitalization of downtown and positively showcase the property at the center of the burgeoning entertainment district," said Mike Nolan, El Cortez’s general manager. "The El Cortez is such an integral part of Las Vegas history that we feel it’s important to preserve that history for future generations. In conjunction with the city’s efforts, we can truly say that together we’ve started the trend of bringing vintage Vegas back to downtown."

The property has also broken ground on its Las Vegas Boulevard entrance, a new two-lane entrance that will lead directly to its porte cochere and valet. The street will also feature pedestrian-friendly walkways, lampposts and planters, reminiscent of the 1950s.

El Cortez’s exterior updates and renovations are expected to bring back the nostalgia and vintage charm that downtown once had.

The Las Vegas Boulevard entrance will welcome locals and tourists with a classic, neon sign featuring designs and colors nearly identical to the property’s original signage dating back to the early 1940s.

Additional renovations at El Cortez will include the remodeling of the property’s Ogden Tower, featuring 100 luxury hotel rooms and a business center and fitness center once completed. The property also plans to build a pool adjacent to the Ogden Tower.

Owned by casino pioneer Jackie Gaughan, the El Cortez has remained a popular gambling destination for visitors and locals alike.

The casino features full-pay single deck blackjack, fast-becoming a rarity in Las Vegas, which was even voted as the Best Blackjack in Las Vegas by readers of a local newspaper.

Other casino amenities include 10X odds on craps, an award-winning keno lounge and a solid mix of 1,000 slot machines that include popular video poker and video keno games.

The El Cortez sports books is one of the most popular in the downtown area, and is linked to the South Point casino’s sports book, owned by Jackie Gaughan’s son, Michael Gaughan.

El Cortez Hotel & Casino, an anchor property in the soon-to-be developed Fremont East District, is located in historic downtown at 600 East Fremont Street.