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July 29, 2014

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Casino’s closure brings mixed outlooks on Lake Las Vegas

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Erin Dostal

The floor of Casino MonteLago sits mostly empty on its final afternoon on Sunday. The casino’s closure is a result of the Ritz-Carlton’s announcement that it will close May 2.

Casino MonteLago at Lake Las Vegas

The high limit slots room was empty Sunday at Casino MonteLago, which closed at midnight. The casino's closure is a result of the Ritz-Carlton's announcement that it will close May 2. Launch slideshow »

The cheerful Irish music piped through the shops at Lake Las Vegas belied the gloom inside Casino MonteLago, which was set to close at midnight Sunday.

More than 170 people were expected to lose their jobs as a result of the closure.

The casino’s owner, CIRI Lakeside Gaming Investors LLC, announced the closing Feb. 16. It was a result of the Ritz-Carlton at Lake Las Vegas announcing it would close its doors May 2.

“It’s going to be bad for the community,” said Jean Bevolo, 63, of Las Vegas, who was playing slots at Casino MonteLago on Sunday. “I don’t see how these businesses are going to last.”

Bevolo said she visits Lake Las Vegas about three times a month, mainly to enjoy the atmosphere and get away from the Strip. Bevolo said she hopes Lake Las Vegas will bounce back, but said that could be tough during the recession.

Lake Las Vegas is in bankruptcy and is burdened with $728 million in liabilities. The 3,600-acre development about 17 miles from the Strip includes more than 1,700 residential units in addition to its hotels, restaurants and shops.

“It’s kind of far away from everything,” said Brent Peshina, 34, of Las Vegas. “The sad thing is that if you don’t live out here, there’s nothing to draw people out here.”

Peshina said he goes to the stores at Lake Las Vegas with his kids when visiting his in-laws, who live at the development.

Las Vegas resident Yvonne Jay, who sells real estate, said she thought someone would buy the Casino MonteLago and reopen it. Business might be down now, but Lake Las Vegas won’t become a ghost town, she said.

“Enjoy the peace and quiet for awhile,” she said. “It’s going to bounce back … Life goes in cycles.”

No one from Casino MonteLago was available Sunday to discuss the closure.

Many business owners, like Victor Perez, said they think the development will be sustainable even without the Casino MonteLago and Ritz-Carlton. Perez opened Sonrisa Grill in 2008.

“I look around at other villages. Is there a casino in those villages?” he asked.

Perez said businesses at Lake Las Vegas will persevere because it isn’t just about casinos – it’s a community, he said. Perez said he thinks people don’t just come to the area to gamble – they come to eat and relax.

Lori Jo Klemptner, who co-owns Mishegoss and Flights of Fancy with her husband, Jim Hodge, said although the closure is bad news, recent media coverage of Lake Las Vegas has helped to bring first-time visitors to the area.

“We have two stores, and we have every intention of staying open,” she said. “We don’t want to move. This is the best place to be.”

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