Railroad Pass Hotel and Casino, has been purchased by a Henderson-based commercial real estate developer, Joe DeSimone. DeSimone purchased the 83 year-old property, after nearly several months of negotiating with its previous owner MGM Resorts International, which owned the property since 2005, through his Henderson company, First Federal Realty.
“I’m a businessman in Henderson and the Railroad Pass is a good business,” the 47-year-old DeSimone said, in a prepared press release issued by MGM. “The iconic nature of the property makes it all the more fun and exciting for someone like me and gives me some more diversification in my business career.”
DeSimone has lived in Henderson since 1991, and founded First Federal Realty in 1996. This is his first foray into the casino business. He has developed many commercial projects around the Las Vegas Valley, most recently the 266-unit College Villas senior apartments on College Drive, and the 16-unit Horizon Ridge Professional Park, both in Henderson. DeSimone said he will retain the nearly 200 employees, including Curt Thompson, the properties executive director since 2006.
“Curt has a lot of pride in that property, and I found him to be very candid and we’re happy to keep him,” DeSimone, who is partnering with long-time casino gaming licensee Marcus Suan, said. Suan has more than 20 years of casino experience focused on slot operations and slot marketing with Coast Casinos and Boyd Gaming. DeSimone, who is known to be a fast learner, will plunge himself into the casino business and learn from the industry veterans, while he goes through the process of obtaining a gaming license. He also wants to get settled before addressing long-term plans. “My opinion is that the property is run very well right now,” DeSimone said. “I plan on having a steep learning curve making sure the customers, employees, and management are all comfortable in their places. Then go where opportunity takes us with the property.”
The property celebrated its 80th birthday on Aug. 1, 2011, with a month long celebration. The opening of Railroad Pass Club, now known as Railroad Pass Hotel & Casino took place in 1931, and coincided with the beginning of construction on Hoover Dam in Black Canyon the same year, and construction of the Union Pacific Railroad, that would supply the material needed for construction of the dam. At that time, Boulder City was a federal reservation with no liquor or gambling allowed, and Railroad Pass was the closest spot where construction workers and families could gamble. Boulder City, now a city of 15,000, and still does not allow casinos. Because the properties that were issued the first, second and third gaming licenses in 1931, are no longer around, Railroad Pass boasts of being the longest legally operating casino in the state. Railroad Pass has an 11,000-square-foot casino with 324 slot machines and six table games. It also has 120 hotel rooms, a steak house, buffet, coffee shop, a sports book, and sits on 24 acres near U.S. Highway 95/93 between Henderson and the Boulder City border.
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The Laugh Factory, located on the mezzanine level of the New Tropicana Resort, will have one of the most highly praised Egyptian-American stand-up comedians headlining, beginning Monday, Sept. 8 through Sunday, Sept. 14, Ahmed Ahmed. Featured with Ahmed will be Francisco Ramos with Johnny Cardinale hosting. Show times are 8:30 and 10:30 p.m.
Ahmed is a very serious, but really funny, American stand-up comedian, who was born in Helwan, Egypt. At the age of one-month his family moved to the United State, and lived in Riverside, Calif., where he grew up. At the age of 19, he moved to Hollywood, and began making the rounds of comedy clubs in the area. He was soon on the road. In 2011, Ahmed made his directorial debut with the groundbreaking documentary, “Just Like Us.” The film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, and went on to be selected for 30 international film festivals, winning several “Best Director” and “Best Documentary” awards. The documentary, a celebration of culture and comedy, follows Ahmed and ten American comedians through Dubai, Egypt, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia, performing in front of thousands.
The film garnered Ahmed attention on the political front too. He was invited to The White House and The State Department, where he had dinner with President Obama and with Hilary Clinton, as they commended him on creating a project that made an effort to break down barriers and encourage cross-cultural dialogue.
Ahmed was the recipient of the first annual Richard Pryor Award for Ethnic Comedy at the Edinburgh Comedy Festival in Scotland in 2004. He has appeared in many films and TV show, including such classics as: Executive Decision, Swingers, Tracey Takes On…, Roseanne, JAG, Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn,Comedy Central, and MTV‘s Punk’d with Ashton Kutcher. Ahmed has also appeared on CNN, The View, and National Public Radio, and was featured on the front page of The Wall Street Journal and Newsweek in 2001. He currently has a regular role in the TBS sitcom Sullivan & Son.
Ramos’s TV credits include a new pilot, directed by Steve Carell, “Tribeca,” the Byron Allen syndicated show, “The First Family,” and “Jimmy Kimmel Live.” He has created memorable characters in animation as the voice of, Marmoset in the movie “Rio,” as well as a voice for the film “Marmaduke.” He continues to tour worldwide as a stand-up comic, including a month in Afghanistan to perform for U.S. troops. Johnny Cardinale has been featured on, “Chelsea Lately,” and “Jimmy Kimmel Live.” Johnny makes his feature film debut in, “Bobby Khan’s Ticket to Hollywood,” which is set for a late 2014 release. He also hosts the podcast, “For the Love of Mic” on iTunes. He has performed for troops overseas on several occasions in over 30 countries.
Tickets priced at $34.95 and $44.95. Call 702-739-2411 for further information.
Don’t forget to get your tickets for the Deana Martin show at the South Point Hotel & Casino/Spa showroom on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 13-14. Deana is definitely one of the more influential American singers on stage today. And, not just because of being the proud daughter of iconic entertainer, Dean Martin, but because of the music she presents. Deana’s songs range from the Great American Songbook, to contemporary music, some of her own compositions, and of course, the music made famous by her dad, and his buddies. Seeing Deana in a live performance, you get the sense that there is nothing she cannot do.
At the South Point, Deana will perform one of her most requested shows, “Deana Sings Dino,” where she performs hits made famous by her illustrious father, including: “Memories Are Made of This,” “That’s Amore,” “Everybody Loves Somebody,” and many more. And there’s always that door on stage, where interesting friends like to drop by and surprise her during a show. Tickets, priced from $15 to $25, are now on sale at the South Point box office 702-797-8065. Show times for both performances are set at 7:30 p.m.
Carmine Mandia, one of the nice guys in our little Village, and one heck of an entertainer, will bring his band, and a ton of music, to the Italian American Club, 2333 E. Sahara Blvd., on Wednesday, Sept. 17th. Mandia is dedicating the evening to one of his personal favorites, and mine, Bobby Darin. The band consists of musical director Ned Mills, piano, with Steve Johnson (no relation) on sax, Billy King, trumpet, Neil Maxa, trombone, Danny DeMorales, bass, John Plows, drums, and Carmine’s special guest, Mark Giovi. With a combination like that it should be one heck of a high energy show, because that’s how Darin’s music is meant to be played and sung. Mandia has named the show “Darin’ to be Different.” The 90-minute performance will include more than 20 of Bobby’s songs including: Splish Splash,-Dream Lovers, Beyond the Sea, Artificial Flowers, and Curtain Falls, to name just a few of the great songs made famous by the crooner—who passed away way far too early. Get your tickets now by calling 702-457-3866 or email him at [email protected].
The 35th Annual San Gennaro Feast will take place Sept. 9-14, 2014, at the Grand Canyon Shopping Center, 4245 Grand Canyon Drive and West Flamingo Road (just west of the 215). The Las Vegas food and music festival celebrates the spirit of San Gennaro, and features more than 70 restaurant food booths, 80 amusements rides including the 100-foot Vertigo, midway games, arts and crafts booths, and live music. Entertainment coordinator and Host, Tony Sacca, will be introducing Las Vegas’ finest entertainers, the best bands, and also headline his own show. Sacca has been part of the event for more than30years. Times are Tuesday-Thursday, 5 to 11 p.m., Friday, 5 p.m. to midnight, Saturday, noon to midnight, and Sunday, noon to 11 p.m. Tickets are priced at $9 for adults and children (children 54 inches and under are free), $8 for seniors and military at the door. Ample free parking is available.
For information go to www.sangennarofeast.com.