To say things at Downtown Grand have gotten off to a bit of a rocky start would be an understatement. To be honest, I like the casino because of this. Downtown Grand is a nice getaway from chaos on Fremont Street. Unfortunately for a casino operator the combination of a mellow experience (think lack of business) and low limits isn’t a recipe for success when you’ve spent somewhere near $100 million to renovate a casino. Even before rumors of the casino closing Downtown Grand brought on Jim Simms to be the new CEO in June. One of his major tasks was to make the casino profitable.
Recent changes might help generate more revenue but they might not. Here’s what I found when visiting the other day. The tables have all been moved off the main casino floor and into the former high limits rooms. The area where the 9 table games used to occupy now has a Shoot To Win bubble craps machine and some slot machines.
The main casino floor now looks more like a slot parlor than a traditional casino with table games in the center. Some of the spacing of the machines is so wide that you could probably drive a smart car through some of the casino. I won’t charge for that marketing idea.
Table games and are now only open from noon during the week and 10 a.m. during the weekend and close at 2 a.m. (they’ll stay open later if you’re playing). It makes sense that Downtown Grand would jettison the games off the main floor.
The majority of the table games are in the former High Limits room. I visited just before the table games were open but there weren’t many people playing when I returned from my delicious burger at Triple George across the street. The room is cozy but spacious with 4 blackjack tables, 1 craps table, 1 roulette table and 1 strangely placed 3 card poker table off to the side. While I wouldn’t play at the blackjack tables with my back to the casino the other tables seem fine. In fact, that craps situation looks great.
There is a ton of space around the craps table with 2 TV’s on the walls just a couple feet away. Craps odds remain at 10x with $5 minimum. We’ll see how the room feels when people are playing but I think I could get into this.
All of the High Limits slot machines have been removed (although you can still find the $5 Top Dollar squeezed by the Big Bang Theory slot machine by the doors) and there are no High Limit tables left. Minimum wagers are $5 or $10 and blackjack pays 3:2.
If you like playing higher limits blackjack to keep some of the younger, less educated, gamblers away from your game you can ask for them to be raised. The pit boss will raise the limits if you ask and you can play 3 hands at once. I believe maximum wager per hand is $1,000.
The space formerly known as the 888 Baccarat Room is now used for overflow if the main room of tables ever gets too busy. The room has two tightly packed blackjack tables and one craps table in the rear. There is no more baccarat at Downtown Grand. Sorry baccarat_guy.
This room is fine when nobody is around but imagine how tight and uncomfortable it could be if the place was packed. The center blackjack seats will be almost into the wall. I’m not sure how a cocktail waitress could get to the craps table. No thank you.
I’m not sure that the changes to the casino floor will do much for the bottom line but they seem to make sense. In addition to these cosmetic changes, there have also been changes to the Downtown Grand Casino Loyalty Program (Downtown Grand Rewards). There is nothing more sad than a casino with tables that aren’t open. Actually there might be one thing. It was really sad to see 8 people playing table games in the casino on a random afternoon. At least this way they’ll be out of the way. If you can erase the original casino layout from your mind this setup might actually make sense.