The Klondike Casino has been around since 1999, but the economic crunch has a declining local clientele wondering just how long it can stay in business.
"We’re definitely feeling it," said Tony Clark, the casino manager since the venue opened nearly 11 years ago at Sunset Road and Boulder Highway. "Lots of our customers were construction workers who are now out of work. I’d say we lost a good 60 percent of our players."
This Klondike is the sister property to the more famous Klondike located on South Las Vegas Blvd., and featured in the 1997 Chevy Chase movie, "Vegas Vacation" -- along with its $1.47 spaghetti specials. The Strip Klondike closed in 2005, leaving the Sunset Klondike as one of the last true "old style" casinos in Las Vegas.
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"It really is old Vegas," said Clark, a Chicago native who was a used car salesman before getting into the gaming business. "We still have coin operated machines, which our customers like. But there are concerns. We had to terminate half of our staff from 100 to 50. It sure didn’t help to hear our president tell people not to come to Las Vegas."
What the Klondike does offer is a taste of Vegas past with 10-cent roulette, $2 blackjack, coupons for hitting 4-Of-A-Kind in video poker and discounts in its cafeteria. "We have good nighttime activity," Clark said. "When I opened this place nearly 11 years ago, we had 10-cent roulette then, and we never changed that. I think that’s what our customers appreciate. This is truly a locals place."
Henderson resident Janeen Hill plays roughly five days a week at the Klondike and likes that it is not a large casino. "It’s close to home, small and very friendly," she said. "The food is good, the prize drawings are nice and the old fashioned machines are better than those multi-denominations. Plus, there’s a kiosk for sports betting so there’s everything here that I need."
Lori Bartholomew has worked as a waitress for 13 years at both Klondike locales and prefers the locals atmosphere. "Everybody knows everybody and a lot of the old customers from the old Klondike come out here. We even have people from other states and countries look for the Klondike. They remember what it was like, and if we are still around. I sure hope we can keep going."
Question? Comment? E-mail me at: Mark Mayer