Downtown Las Vegas’ Massive New Casino Announced & It’s Unlike Anything Else Around

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Downtown Las Vegas New Casino

Downtown Las Vegas New Casino

Fremont Street was once the heart beat of Las Vegas. While the fame and nicer properties have migrated South to the Strip, Downtown Las Vegas will always be special. It is home to the Las Vegas’ first hotel and many of Southern Nevada’s most historical properties. 

With that said, Fremont Street has always been a love/hate experience in my lifetime. For example back before they built the Fremont Street Experience canopy, driving down the neon lined street in a car was as iconic an experience as visiting the Grand Canyon in my opinion. Unfortunately the pre-canopy era was also a rough one Downtown and for many it wasn’t the nicest place to visit.

Downtown Las Vegas New Casino
Modern Fremont Street. Photo courtesy of Matthew Straubmuller

In the 1990’s the Fremont Street Experience came and changed things. Many of the casinos were old and worn down at this point, but they were given some life by the increased amounts of tourism. The city also forced many of the seedier folks into other areas making Downtown Las Vegas a little nicer, safer and cleaner.

It wasn’t until about 2011 though that I think Fremont Street hit its true modern peak. At that time it was a really fun place to hang out and watch live music. The hotels and casinos also started to see renovations. For example, the Plaza Hotel & Casino would close and reopen fully renovated in 2011 and the D Las Vegas (formerly Fitzgeralds) would renovate in 2012. During the following years many other casinos renovated, reopened or expanded.

Downtown Las Vegas New Casino
The incredibly sad pool area at D Las Vegas.

Fall From the Peak

As the modern popularity of Fremont Street has grown, the crowds have become wilder and wilder. There was always an edge to Downtown and some of the seedier elements have returned as of late. Let’s just say it has gone from one of my favorite places to go to a place I generally avoid. The atmosphere is often just too much.

With that said, today’s Fremont Street is popular with many people and a guy named Derek Stevens is behind a lot of that. He is the one who renovated the D Las Vegas and brought in its trademark dancing dealers and modern vibe. He also modernized Golden Gate, Las Vegas’ oldest hotel. Finally, he bought the 85 year old Las Vegas Club and closed it for his most ambitious project yet.

Downtown Las Vegas New Casino
Old Las Vegas Club sign. Photo courtesy of Matt Biddulph

In Come Circa

The Las Vegas Club along with a couple of smaller casinos and the famous Glitter Gulch topless club closed in 2015 to make way for a future project. While construction has been ongoing, the specifics of the new casino and its name had been a mystery until a recent announcement stating Circa Las Vegas will open in late 2020 and will be unlike anything else Downtown. 

In its insanely long and bazaar promotional video Circa Las Vegas is described as, “A new mark on Fremont Street that celebrates the timeless spirit of the city.” The property is also described as, “an experience that spans generations” while “honoring the pioneers of the past” and “defining a vision in the present and making our mark on the future.” Got all that? Because I have no idea what it means.

Here is what it translates into though:

Downtown Las Vegas New Casino
This is a rendering of Derek Stevens’ new project for Fremont Street, Circa Resort & Casino, released Thursday, Jan 10, 2019 (Rendering courtesy of Circa)
Downtown Las Vegas New Casino
This is a rendering of Derek Stevens’ new project for Fremont Street, Circa Resort & Casino, released Thursday, Jan 10, 2019 (Rendering courtesy of Circa)

Circa Las Vegas Details

In that massive tower Circa will house 777 guest rooms, a two story casino, the largest sports book in Las Vegas and a pool area that is much bigger than anything else in the immediate area (See D pic above). With six pools, a 125 foot outdoor screen and a massive deck, Circa looks to be targeting younger people who like the pool club vibe.

In many ways this property is bigger and bolder than anything else Downtown. The only hotel that can sort of compete amenity wise is the Golden Nugget which opened its newest tower in 2009, but that hotel has much older parts and a pool area that is beautiful but suffers from being way too small. 

Downtown Las Vegas New Casino
This is a rendering of the pool deck of Derek Stevens’ new project for Fremont Street, Circa Resort & Casino, released Thursday, Jan 10, 2019 (Rendering courtesy of Circa)

My Thoughts

While it seems like they are trying to describe Circa as a modern property with a nod to the past, I feel like it will be much more like a modern Strip casino come Downtown. From a loud pool area to dancing dealers in the casino, I expect a similar feeling to D Las Vegas, but with a fresh new property. I can’t wait to see what the inside will look like. 

To conclude, the name Circa is yet another attempt by a company to be hip, but it isn’t the worst thing I have ever heard nor do I love it either. Vegas will continue to move forward and Circa is a sign of that. Whether it will fit in with the current culture of Downtown is debatable, but I think with an owner who knows the market and the benefits of new construction they’ll have something that’s both unique and popular.

What do you think? Is Circa Las Vegas exciting to you or would you rather things would go back to like how they were before? Let us know in the comments. 


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12 COMMENTS

  1. It so happens I was having a discussion with my father about downtown Vegas the other week. How rich in Vegas history it is when those ‘family’ members in the 1950s arrived to build Vegas into what it now has become. Downtown Vegas and Fremont Street have more character than the Strip. Way less tourist and less costly to stay. Whenever I traveled to Vegas either for business or leisure, I would always stay at the Nugget. I think the new property planned should be 50% smaller than planned to blend in and not stand apart. That original small town feel is what Fremont is all about.

    • I agree. I always stay downtown as well, it’s way more affordable than the strip and has better odds. Not sure this new hotel is out of place, though. Nugget has 2,419 rooms, Plaza has 1,033 rooms and the Cal has 781. Circa has only 777 rooms – I’m actually kind of surprised they aren’t making it bigger.

  2. Happened to be downtown one year ago ( Super Bowl night ) after a several year absence. The atmosphere was completely different there and for that matter everywhere we went in town. I don’t know if legalization of weed is to blame but there was definitely a seedier, grimier feel. We really just didn’t feel as comfortable as in previous years. Hard to describe the feeling, just maybe felt a little unsafe everywhere.

    • Was there Super Bowl night recently also, totally sucked. Rampant open drunk idiot behavior everywhere, worst visit there ever…….give me the good old days (circa 1977) again anytime.

  3. @Bob you’re absolutely correct. I had the same experience. There’s just something different about it…it’s become very seedy and almost feels dangerous in some respects. I actually saw a group of young men laughing and mocking a homeless man who they had paid to strip in the middle of the street. It was par for the course of the oddities I witnessed that night. And I was a diehard downtown guy for years, but I won’t go back I don’t think.

  4. Building a beautiful property like that on seedy Freemint Street and its grungier-than-ever guests is like casting pearls before swine, or putting lipstick on a pig. Circa investors will see a decent financial return on high volume/rate, but guests will come up craps.

  5. Too many losers and winos downtown dressed as Elvis, Mickey and other vile characters dressed in filthy costumes every 5 feet you walk,big turnoff..will not return there…….you were right about driving down Fremont in the old days, made you feel like you were in the Movies.

  6. So it’s a strip hotel that’s not on the strip. Stuff like that is exactly the reason I avoid the strip.

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