Dotty’s owner gets gaming license for revamped Hacienda casino

Lake Mead National Recreation Area seen from near the Hacienda Hotel in Boulder City on Tuesday, August 13, 2013.

The Nevada Gaming Commission met Thursday in Las Vegas.

The issue: Dotty’s Casino chain owner Craig Estey and his company, Nevada Restaurant Services, requested a gaming license for the Hoover Dam Lodge, formerly the Hacienda, between Hoover Dam and Boulder City.

The vote: 3-0 with one absence and one abstention

What it means: Estey’s deal with Lakeview Partnership, led by longtime gaming executives Michael Ensign, William Richardson and David Belding, is expected to close Monday for an undisclosed price.

Estey has big plans to convert the 17-story, 289-room property into a replica of a National Park Service lodge, even taking an unconventional approach for a casino by installing windows.

The two-phase project will include gutting the existing property and redeveloping the casino’s interior and floor-by-floor room renovations. Estey said his company also plans to build an undetermined number of rooms on the lake side of the property to take advantage of views of Lake Mead.

The first phase of redevelopment is expected to be completed by summer. At that time, the property will be rebranded as Hoover Dam Lodge. The casino will remain open during construction work, which is expected to cost $7 million.

A second phase includes plans to develop property across the U.S. 95 highway into a travel plaza with recreational vehicle parking, camping spaces, a coffee shop and a convenience store with a pedestrian bridge to the casino.

The 230 Hacienda employees were invited to reapply for their jobs. A total of 150 were hired with the other 80 offered positions at Dotty’s properties or placed on a list for rehire when the first phase is completed.

The Dotty’s slot parlor chain has 120 outlets statewide, including 25 in Kmart and grocery stores.

The chain battled the Nevada Resort Association last year over the organization’s demand that gaming regulators require food service to hold a nonrestricted gaming license.