As the final hours before the 6:30 p.m. grand opening ticked away, construction crews were putting the finishing touches on the cashier cages, testing the last few slot machines and grooving to the Louisiana music blaring from the newly opened buffet. Bourbon Square Casino executives and employees joined Sparks and Reno residents, Sparks City Council members and plenty others for the inaugural turning of the first slot machine.
Mary Anne and Joe Geiger were the first Sparks residents to push the ‘spin’ button inside Bourbon Square, and as long-time Silver Club customers, the Geigers were all smiles coming away with more than $5 winnings.
“We have been coming here for roughly 30 years when it was the Silver Club,” Joe said. “It is really good for the economy that they are here and we were really surprised and thrilled to see Bourbon Square open.”
The Sparks natives have traveled to Louisiana’s Bourbon Street and said Bourbon Square’s refurbished and festive vibe really resembles New Orleans culture. They said the theme will fit in well in downtown Sparks, but there is one thing they will miss about the Silver Club.
“We really did enjoy the table games,” Joe said. “We understand how things go and that they will have to wait some time before they have table games here, but we love slots so we will still be here.”
Mary Anne said there was no need to head to Reno for any gaming given the location of Bourbon Square on Victorian Avenue.
“It is just so convenient,” she said. “We just live out in Spanish Springs and so it is very convenient, and I am looking forward to some cajun food to spice things up a little. Victorian Square is such a nice area so it is a good addition.”
Several visitors for the ‘unmasking’ of the renovated property said they looked forward to having something new and exciting in place of the Silver Club, which closed in 2009, and Bourbon Square owner Rick Holland said he expects no problem fitting in. In fact, he said tweaking the casino’s name a bit from Bourbon Street to Bourbon Square was done to hone its Sparks identity.
“Bourbon Street is kind of a popular name,” Holland said Thursday, “and we wanted to do something to directly identify with this area. We thought it had a good ring to it.”
After leading the Ascuaga family on a brief tour of the ground floor of Bourbon Square, Holland said operating alongside the Nugget serves to benefit everyone, from businesses to residents.
“We are creating 150 jobs here and creating a spurt for the economy, and more jobs is something that is going to help everyone,” Holland said. “I think we will help to revitalize the entire area. Activity kind of breeds activity and more reinvestment in the business down here, and I think that is good for everybody. I think that is how John (Ascuaga) and I are both looking at it.”
Michonne Ascuaga, CEO of the Nugget, said there is a strong bond between upper managements of the two casinos, which formed during the years of the Silver Club. She said she looks forward to continuing the relationship.
“Each of us has played a role in different events and it has been great, and I think it has been to the benefit of everybody down here,” she said. “We have had close relationships with some of the management down here for years and we expect that to continue now that they have reopened.”
Stephen Ascuaga shared Michonne’s enthusiasm and said working in tandem with Bourbon Square executives will improve the Victorian Square landscape and boost the energy downtown.
“We really want to see that activity downtown,” he said, “And to take a closed building and recondition it is something we are really supportive of and we are looking forward to working with them. They know what they are doing. I think a lot of it is being accessible to one another.
“Prior to them opening, we have walked the street and gotten an idea of what they are going to need and what we are going to need (for various special events) and it is about keeping that dialogue open. We’re all in it together down here and it is great to see.”