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January 31, 2015

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Sunset Station sues Henderson over Roadhouse license approval

Click to enlarge photo

The entrance of Sunset Station as the sun goes down in Henderson.

Roadhouse Casino

Map of Sunset Station Hotel Casino

Sunset Station Hotel Casino

1301 W. Sunset Road, Henderson

A Station Casinos Inc. property is suing the city of Henderson over the city’s approval of a potential competitor’s operating permit.

Sunset Station Inc. filed suit in Clark County District Court last week against the city as well as the would-be competitor, Roadhouse Casino owner Robert McMackin and Marengo Inc.

The Roadhouse, on Boulder Highway and Sunset Road, has been closed for years but reopens once a year for one day to maintain its state nonrestricted gaming license. Its last approval to operate came this year for one day with 17 slot machines -- one machine above the 16-machine minimum for nonrestricted licensees.

Unlike current nonrestricted applicants, the Roadhouse license is grandfathered in by the state with no hotel.

Sunset Station and two of its sister properties in the region, Fiesta Henderson and Boulder Station, all have hotels and Station has been fighting plans by McMackin to operate with the nonrestricted license without him having invested in a hotel.

Sunset Station's lawsuit does not challenge the state license held by the Roadhouse. Rather, the city license is at issue.

Michael Tassi, planning manager for the city, on Monday said McMackin has recently expressed interest in reopening the property and gained city approval for rehabilitation of the structure as well as landscaping work, though no building permits have been issued.

McMackin couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Sunset Station, in its lawsuit, charges that on Sept. 21 McMackin and Marengo sought city approval to amend and revive conditional use rights they previously held under a 1988 conditional use permit for the property at 2100 North Boulder Highway.

Sunset Station charges that in 1992 McMackin received city approval to remodel and expand the Roadhouse, but that McMackin "never fully remodeled the Roadhouse and the Roadhouse never operated in the manner represented to the Henderson City Council."

The suit charges that McMackin received several extensions over the years to the conditional use permit until an extension was denied on Aug. 1, 2006, by the Henderson Planning Commission.

The 1988 version of the city code did not limit nonrestricted gaming to a resort hotel, as it now does, the suit charges.

"The Henderson City Council and McMackin fully understood that all rights would go away with the conditional use permit extension denial in 2006 and the applicants would have to comply with current code for any future use and development of the property," Sunset Station charges in the lawsuit.

Sunset Station charges city approval of the application for a city nonrestricted gaming license on Nov. 9 violated the Henderson Municipal Code because the code prohibits rights granted under the 1988 conditional use permit from ever being revived.

Tassi, however, said the city attorney has determined the Roadhouse’s 1988 conditional use permit rights never expired.

Sunset Station, represented by attorneys Todd Bice and Jarrod Rickard of the law firm Pisanelli Bice PLLC, charged in the lawsuit the city exceeded its authority "by approving an application permitting nonrestricted gaming without a resort hotel or specific nonconforming use."

City attorneys have not yet responded to the lawsuit.

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  1. What about Binions and Plaza that have dumped their hotels downtown??

    What's a matter Stations? Can't compete? I thought you were rough tough capitalists that believed in the marketplace? Now you want government to protect you??

    Typical two faced business people.

    People have been icing gaming licenses for years..

  2. In the real world (aka outside of Nevada) if the issue was simple non-compliance with a straightforward zoning ordinance, such as one which requires buildings to be set back 30' from the curb, such a lawsuit would be a no brainer win for a plaintiff in the position of Station Casinos.

    However, in the real world, when city officials are asked to make a discretionary decision, courts will not interfere with that exercise of discretion, because of the "separation of powers" doctrine inherent in the Constitution of every state and the United States. In the real world, courts usually consider compliance with the terms of conditional use permits to be the quintessence of discretionary executive branch decision making, allowing cities to waive conditions at will, even if that makes the neighbors angry.

    As a result, it will be interesting to see how closely the District Court judge assigned to the Roadhouse case conforms to what is considered normal, in enforcement of conditional zoning entitlements, in the other 49 states.

  3. mred states, "Typical two faced business people."

    "Typical"? Go ahead. Explain.

  4. I stayed at Boulder Station Once(for one night last year). It had not seen an update or full cleaning since it opened. And then there is the tiny pool with the sewage smell. This is a far cry from what I consider a real hotel. They seem to cater to a Lower Income Senior and Hispanic population - that is willing to settle for less for their Gaming Dollar.
    Raise Taxes on these Corporate Welfare Queens to pay for the Hospitals and Educational systems we desperately need. If we loose half of these places with their "No Benefits" anti-worker jobs - good riddance.

  5. Ben Lambert,

    'No Benefits" company? Come back when you know what you are talking about. The reason that Station Casinos is not a union house is because they take better care of their employees then the Union shops do.

    Stations pays a big percentage of the TAXES that pay for those hospitals and education systems that you don't want to pay for.

    I know, facts get in the way of a good rant.

  6. Station Casinos has long tried to monopolize the local market. It bought the Fiesta, Wildfire, Santa Fe plus vacant land near the corner of Rancho & Carey owned by Coast Casinos destined to be a hotel/casino. Stations then put a codicil on the vacant land that eliminated the posssibility of gaming. They ran all of the regular patrons out of the Fiesta by lowering payouts on Video Poker machines to even money for 2 pair on bonus machines and, in one case, 2-1 for 3-of-a-kind. They eliminated the breakfast buffet and made other moronic decisions that cost them dearly. They thought their customers were stupid but soon found out differently when their business went down the toilet. Believe me, it wasn't just the recession that put these jokers into bankruptcy. They got what they deserved.

  7. @mred: Binion's and The Plaza are not governed by the City of Henderson. You know, because they are located in LAS VEGAS. Henderson city ordinances have no jurisdiction.

    Why Sunset Station has any interest in whether or not the Roadhouse Casino gets a license should be the real story here. Another attempt by Station Casinos to grab up cheap land so they can build another neighborhood killer.

  8. First off, this suit should have no priority in the courts. It should get in line with all the other law suits waiting so that they can get their day in court in about 10 years. Station Casinos won't lose traffic if they would pay out more.

  9. I'd say Station is in a position to compete very well with it's larger, newer (and very nice) facility. Roadhouse may take some of the locals business, but a simple adjustment of promotions and payouts can keep them coming back. I wonder how the crowd was for that one day with 17 machines operating? Hey, they are abiding by the law. Anyone who wants to open up a casino these days should be commended. Good luck and prosperity to both companies.