Casino MonteLago at Lake Las Vegas closes over lease issues

People browse the streets of MonteLago Village during the grand reopening of Casino MonteLago at Lake Las Vegas on Thursday, May 26, 2011.

Casino MonteLago Reopens

Fireworks explode over MonteLago Village during the grand re-opening of the Casino MonteLago at Lake Las Vegas Thursday, May 26, 2011.   
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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 »

For the second time in three and a half years, Casino MonteLago has shut its doors.

Management announced that the small gambling spot, part of the lavish but financially plagued Lake Las Vegas master-planned community in Henderson, “suspended operations today pending resolution of lease issues with the property owners.”

Details were not disclosed.

“We hope that the owners of the casino find a way to support its reopening soon,” General Manager Marcus Suan said in a news release.

Phil Wolfgramm, senior vice president of landlord Kam Sang Co., told VEGAS INC today that his group is looking for other companies to run the casino.

He said his group is open to talking with the current operator about reopening the place, but the tenant has not upheld some “contractual obligations” to Kam Sang.

Wolfgramm declined to specify.

The casino opened in May 2003, closed in March 2010 during the recession and reopened in May 2011 to throngs of gamblers.

It originally was owned by Cook Inlet Region Inc., a company owned by members of an Alaskan American Indian tribe, but now is owned by Intrepid Gaming CEO Jon Berkley.

Kam Sang, of Southern California, bought the casino property and adjacent hotel, Ravella at Lake Las Vegas, last November for about $47 million. It was one of Southern Nevada’s most lucrative real estate deals of 2012.

The 3,600-acre Lake Las Vegas community, off Lake Mead Parkway, was designed as an elegant Mediterranean village with a 320-acre man-made lake. It was one of the biggest real estate flops in one of the hardest-hit markets in the country.

Former developers lost the project to foreclosure after defaulting on $540 million in loans in 2007. The Atalon Group acquired the project in early 2008 but pushed it into bankruptcy protection six months later.

The community emerged from bankruptcy court in summer 2010 under the control of Dallas investment firm Highland Capital Management and lenders led by Credit Suisse, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Along the way, two of its three golf courses closed, tourism plunged and foreclosures soared.

The project has been showing signs of improvement, though. As of this spring, home prices were on the upswing, hotel occupancy was inching higher and some new tenants were joining the retail district.

Also, Wall Street billionaire John Paulson’s investment firm has bought at least 900 acres of land there since July 2012, with plans to sell it to homebuilders and boost its value with communal aesthetic upgrades.