As consolidation in the gaming industry continues at a break-neck pace, smaller casinos face a kind-of weeding out process.
While the number of small, independent casinos in Southern Nevada has dropped over the past decade, there’s a stalwart group of them in Henderson that appear as popular as ever.
These independent Henderson casinos are spread out along the Boulder Highway or are clustered in the downtown area.
Regardless of where they’re located, they share several common traits: They are staffed by friendly people with a relaxed, laid-back attitude; they serve popular American food at bargain prices; they offer a variety of video poker and video keno in denominations that locals can afford.
The Nevada Palace on Boulder Highway is a good example of the kind of Henderson casino that has stood the test of time. It’s been around since its neighbor, Sam’s Town, was built, and continues to draw a loyal, mostly local crowd.
In addition to plying customers with friendly service, bargain priced dining, and popular casino games and machines, the Nevada Palace offers a bushel-basket full of bonuses, giveaways and special promotions that go beyond the "regular" casino offerings.
Those perks include paying a variety of bonuses and extra payoffs on reversible royals, selected four-of-a-kind and suit of the day, to name a few, plus birthday and paycheck cashing promotions.
The casino also has a single zero roulette wheel (a rarity in Las Vegas), as well as dozens of "old fashioned" slot and video poker machines such as the coin-in, coin-out IGT Fortune draw poker machines that have all but disappeared from the Las Vegas casino scene.
The Nevada Palace also features two restaurants, a 24-hour coffee shop called Boulder Café, and a relatively upscale supper house called La Bella Pasta.
Open for dinner nightly, La Bella Pasta serves a combination of steak, seafood, Italian and Continental specialties.
Among the menu choices, the broiler selections are among the best. The prime rib is butter tender and juicy, and the steaks — a 16-ounce T-bone, 12-ounce New York cut and an appetite-quenching 20-ounce Portherhouse — are chosen from aged, Midwestern beef and cooked to perfection.
Other superb choices include a broiled halibut and salmon steak, steak and lobster, and a hearty Pasta Del Mar (shrimp, clams, scallops, salmon and sun dried tomatoes served over linguini).
The Boulder Café serves a range of American favorites — breakfast, lunch and dinner — plus a unique Chinese menu.
Some of the country-style specialties include a tasty beef chili con carne served in a bowl that seems bottomless, a hearty All American beef stew, smoked ham hocks and beans with garlic toast, and chicken fried steak with country gravy, to name a few.
Diners can also choose from traditional breakfast specials, hot and cold sandwiches (try the Old Hickory — baked ham sliced ÂÃ‚Ârazor thin and swimming in barbecue sauce), selected salads, and juicy burgers — they have one called the Ultimate, which features a half-pound of beef, topped with bacon, a fried egg and all the trimmings.