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Gary Trask

Gary  Trask
Gary serves as Casino City's Editor in Chief and has worked as a writer and editor more than 25 years. The Boston native was a member of the Poker Hall of Fame's inaugural Media Committee.

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Legends Bay Casino a perfect fit for Northern Nevada

7 Nov 2022

By Gary Trask
They say patience is a virtue, so it’s only fitting that the primary force behind the recent opening of Legends Bay Casino Resort — the first ground-up casino project in Reno-Sparks, Nevada in more than two decades — goes by the name of Court Cardinal.

Cardinal, the Regional President at Olympia Gaming, was born and bred in Nevada and has literally seen it all during his 35-year career in the gaming industry that dates back to when he started as a barback at a casino while attending the University of Reno. He was there when Olympia Gaming bought the land where Legends Bay Casino now sits way back in 2006 with the goal of opening a new gaming resort, but those plans got shelved when the country was hit with a recession in 2008.

Shelved, but not forgotten.

More than 15 years after the land was acquired, Olympia Gaming broke ground on Legends Bay Casino in February 2021 and the $130 million property celebrated its grand opening on 30 August to rave reviews.

“Yes, I guess you could say it’s been a long time coming,” Cardinal said with a laugh. “The housing market in Reno-Sparks has just been on fire. But at the same time, we also saw some casinos close for a variety of reasons. So, with the number of gaming devices per capita decreasing and the population in the area growing exponentially, we looked around and said, ‘Now is the time,’ even though we were in the middle of a pandemic.

“Timing is everything in life and in business. We waited and waited and we think we pulled the trigger at the most opportune time.”

As Cardinal talks about Legends Bay and all that it has to offer, his words ooze with pride. Located in the heart of the massive Outlets at Legends shopping and entertainment development, six miles from the Reno-Tahoe International airport, Legends Bay, which employs nearly 300 people, is an 80,000-square-foot casino where the attention to detail is off the charts.

“It’s elegant and contemporary, but it’s approachable,” Cardinal said of the casino’s look and feel. “We probably spent 1,000 hours deciding on the design of the carpet. That gives you an idea as to what went into the design, whether it’s the dark leathered marble on all the bars to the 14- to 17-foot-high ceilings to the crystal chandeliers, we put a lot of thought into every inch of the property. It really does take your breath away when you walk in, but at the same time, like I said, it’s not over the top. It’s a nice balance.”

While the 40,000-square-foot casino floor with more than 650 gaming machines – including the only fully arched Buffalo slot machine in Northern Nevada – and 10 table games is the centerpiece, there is so much more to Legends Bay than simply gambling, especially for foodies.

With the adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” in mind, Olympia Gaming made the decision to bring the wildly popular Duke’s Steak House from its Casino Fandango property in Carson City to Legends Bay, complete with its signature 28-day dry-aged prime U.S. steaks and Cardinal’s own Steak Diane recipe.

The decision was also made to forgo the classic casino buffet and build a first-of-its-kind, 5,000-square-foot Food Truck Hall and entertainment hub with a variety of menus, live music on a stage that sits on the bed of a 1953 White Motor Company 3000, and “Tap Takeovers” in which local breweries come in and serve craft beers.

“We always had food trucks come into Casino Fandango and they were always a big hit, and became even more popular when COVID hit,” Cardinal explained of the idea behind the hall that features four trucks – Pizza Genius, Loco Bueno, Red 88 and Craft 55. “So, at Legends Bay we decided instead of a buffet and instead of a classic food court, let’s design a permanent food truck spot. The classic trucks were custom made specifically for us and it’s turned into a very cool spot where people come in, grab some food and a beer and hang out and listen to live music. It’s really worked out better than we could have imagined.”

Also unique to the area is the Circa Sports Sportsbook and its massive screen that can be seen from pretty much anywhere on the casino floor. Of course, Circa has quickly made a name for itself and became a force in the sportsbook industry when its three-story, stadium-style book hyped with the “biggest screen in sportsbook history” was unveiled with the opening of Circa Resort & Casino in downtown Las Vegas at the tail end of 2020.

When Legends Bay started discussions about its sportsbook offering, Cardinal was adamant that Circa Sports be involved.

“They are the masters of the industry so it was a no-brainer for us to bring in (Circa owner) Derek Stevens in from the very beginning,” Cardinal said. “Not only do they run the book, but they were very much involved with the design process because that’s what they do, and they do it better than anyone.

“We are so thrilled to partner with them and the reaction from our guests when they walk into the book has been incredible. Honestly, I don’t know why anyone in the region would go anywhere else to place a bet and watch the games.”

As far as guest rooms are concerned, Olympia’s original plan was to build a hotel tower as part of the casino. But when the recession scrapped those plans in 2008, the decision was made to build two hotels – Residence Inn by Marriott and Hampton Inn and Suites – next to the casino. The two hotels opened three years ago and combine to offer 206 rooms a few steps away from the casino.

“We’re fortunate to be in a great location in a great market,” Cardinal reiterated with pride. “The outlets and Scheels bring in millions and millions of people every year and all those people need to do is turn 45 degrees and our casino is staring at them. But our secret sauce has always been our employees. We have a track record for the incredible level of service we provide at Fandango and that’s carried over to Legends Bay.

“We’re pretty certain that once somebody walks over from the mall and enters our casino once, they’re going to come back. And in this business, that’s all we can ask.”
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