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Binion’s to close all 365 rooms, lay off 100 workers

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Binion’s Gambling Hall & Hotel in downtown Las Vegas.

Updated Monday, Nov. 30, 2009 | 3:20 p.m.

Binion's Gambling Hall & Hotel in downtown Las Vegas will close its 365 rooms on Dec. 14 and lay off about 100 workers.

Spokeswoman Lisa Robinson said the decision was made as a result of the economic downturn, which has decreased occupancy at the property and other hotels across the Las Vegas Valley.

Robinson said Binion's also will close the Binion's Original Coffee Shop and discontinue keno. The casino, sports book, poker room and Binion's Ranch Steakhouse on the property's 24th floor will stay open.

Robinson said the decision was made Friday. She said Binion's hasn't determined when the rooms might reopen.

"We have been actively analyzing every aspect of our operation and looking at our costs, especially those that were significant cost drains," Robinson said. "The hotel rooms simply could not remain competitive in this market. We had to make some necessary, but unfortunate, decisions in order to keep the remaining parts of the property operational."

Binion's currently employs about 800 workers. That number will be reduced to about 700 workers after the layoffs associated with the room closures.

Of the 365 rooms that are closing, 266 are in the Binion's tower while 99 rooms are in the original portion of the property.

Robinson said Dec. 14 was chosen as the closing date because it's a traditionally slower time after the Nationals Finals Rodeo, which ends Dec. 12.

Guests with reservations at Binion's will be accommodated at the Four Queens Hotel & Casino.

At a Monday afternoon press conference, Mayor Oscar Goodman said that for the past 10 days he’s been working with the owners of Binions and the Four Queens to try to positively resolve the situation.

Goodman said he left the latest meeting at 10:45 a.m. Monday – under the impression that closing the hotel could be averted. Soon thereafter, he said he got a call with the bad news.

Despite the hotel’s closure – and the fact that it might be difficult to find investors with “fresh money” willing to fund the rooms’ refurbishment – the mayor said that “we still have that glimmer of hope, with the casino remaining open and the restaurants remaining open.”

“Whenever you have a setback, that’s not a positive thing. But I’ve always tried to make lemonade out of lemons,” Goodman said.

Developers such as Cordish Co. and Forest City Enterprises, each with their own proposed downtown development projects that include new casinos/hotels, are still very much interested and on board, he said.

“They’re looking forward,” Goodman said. “They’re smart people.”

In September, the Las Vegas Valley saw its first year-over-year increase in visitation since May 2008, with the count up 4.3 percent, to 3 million people, from September 2008. But in order to fill rooms, Las Vegas hotels have lowered rates, which on average were $91 in September compared to $112 in September 2008.

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