Question of the Day July 3, 2015
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Q:What is the status of Dotty’s and their opening of casinos?
A:Dotty’s will probably be opening a new slot parlor at the intersection of Sahara Avenue and Hualapai Way. The Las Vegas City Council could refuse it a business license, however, on the grounds that gambling is not "incidental" to its business model, representing 67 percent (Dotty’s estimate) to 91 percent (Councilman Bob Beers’ figure) of all revenue.
"When I walk into a tavern, I know what I see. Dotty’s is something different. No one is going to convince me that gaming is incidental to the primary business," said Clark County Commissioner Larry Brown. However, the Nevada Gaming Control Board has never codified what represents "incidental" revenue, leaving the City Council to decide the issue in subjective terms.
The company has grown to 120 taverns statewide, most of them restricted locations that have 15 slots apiece. But there are also 27 Dotty’s with an average of 40 slots per location. The company is also converting the Hacienda, near Boulder City, into the Hoover Dam Lodge, and taking over the River Palms Casino in Laughlin, now named the River Palms Lodge, competing with the big casino companies on their own terms.
The latter property and its ongoing upgrade was the subject of a Question of the Day back in March of this year, which you can read in the QoD Archives (3/18/15) for background; we understand the casino renovation has now been completed and the floor features approximately 1,100 slot machines, located in two "Dotty’s-style" zones, plus Lodge Bingo, with seven live games daily on "odd" hours, commencing at 9 a.m. and running through 9 p.m. A call to the River Palms Lodge informed us that they plan to introduce table games once all the renovations have been completed, which they estimate will be in approximately one year’s time.
As far as Hoover Dam Lodge is concerned, the renovation of the casino has been completed and, to-date, it’s slots only and looks to be staying that way for the foreseeable future. Our call to Head Office has not been returned, but a staffer at the property said he had no indication that table games were likely to be reintroduced; he did confirm that the upgrade of the hotel had been completed, however, with the top four floors having been totally remodeled, while the lower 12 stories all got a facelift.
Of Dotty’s rapid growth during the Great Recession, company COO Mike Eide told the Las Vegas Review-Journal, "Our reputation was that we always paid rent on time. When a tavern went out of business, we got the call. We were picking up a lot of locations. That still happens today." (Only 14 Dotty’s have been built from the ground up.)
Dotty’s must now operate under new constraints imposed by Clark County. The latter’s county commission voted in December to require taverns to install more than half their slots in bar tops and to have traditional kitchens, a change applicable to 25 larger Dotty’s locations. More dauntingly for the company, it will have to show that less than half its revenue stems from gambling.
Since the slot chain was established to give people – primarily women – averse to casinos a homey atmosphere in which to gamble, it’s definitely going to find itself challenged by the new rule. The change was lobbied for by Golden Gaming, a rival tavern chain that also relies heavily on gambling revenue, as well as by Station Casinos, which has been alleged to have tried to buy Dotty’s and been spurned. (Dotty’s did find an ally, however, in rival chain Jackpot Joanie’s.) While the City Council doesn’t seem to have much ground upon which to refuse the newest Dotty’s a license, the chain is unlikely to cease being a focus of controversy anytime soon.
UPDATE: 07-03-2015 Some reader feedback:
"Just a comment about Dotty's. In Illinois there is a "bar slot law" that allows places that serve alcohol to have 5 (yes five) slot machines. And instead of bars just being able to put machines in, many slot stores have opened in strip malls and Dotty's is one of the biggest players here."