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First adults-only resort/casino in Vegas is now open with the world's largest sports book

Oct. 28, 2020
5 min read
Steelman Partners Circa-Exterior
First adults-only resort/casino in Vegas is now open with the world's largest sports book
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Today marks the grand opening of Circa Resort and Casino — the first opening of a resort built from the ground up in downtown Las Vegas since 1980.

The property features a sports-lovers paradise called Stadium Swim; the world's largest sportsbook, Circa Sports, which was built for 1,000 people; and, perhaps most notably, the resort — including all dining, entertainment and hotel areas — also requires all visitors and guests to be at least 21 years old.

The 21+ rule may sound like the norm in gambling- and drinking-focused Sin City, but it's actually a novelty.

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Image courtesy of Circa Las Vegas

CEO Derek Stevens spoke to TPG about the resort he's been envisioning since 2015, saying there's been an "extraordinary" reaction to the adults-only element of the property.

"We [were] willing to give up a certain segment of the hotel business because we feel by focusing on adults only, we'll be able to provide a superior, best-in-class customer service experience," Stevens told TPG.

Guests may notice faster service, for example. Stevens pointed to the delay caused by bartenders and dealers having to ID customers who may not be old enough to drink alcohol or gamble. "We did the math," Stevens said, "and it takes 15 seconds per ID check or a 2-minute wait for a group of eight people in a restaurant, bar or at a table. We estimate we'd have to ID 7,600 people per day, creating a cascading effect of people waiting. There's also the psychological element of knowing there won't be kids."

Circa's downtown Fremont Street location has also drawn a lot of attention since there's been no new construction for decades -- compared with the Las Vegas Strip, which seems to be under constant development.

"Fremont Street is the second-most visited destination in America," Stevens said. "It does more foot traffic than Disneyland or Disney World. We're very comfortable with how we have developed our business with a massive amount of walkup business. This project is designed for the [Freemont Street] geography."

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Even during a pandemic, with operations in Las Vegas far from normal, the brand-new resort has generated a considerable buzz because of its design, restaurants, location and attractions. Circa's Stadium Swim, for example, is set to be open year-round with multiple pools heated to 90 degrees and with full view of a 40-foot-high screen for keeping tabs on the games.

Related: How to do Las Vegas on points and miles

Image courtesy of Circa Las Vegas

That said, the timing has raised eyebrows.

For many, the idea of opening Circa during a pandemic may seem surprising. "We run two other resorts here in Vegas and have been operating since reopening [on] June 4," Stevens said. "We have followed a number of directives from the governor and [the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]. We continue to adjust and learn protocols to keep our guests and employees safe."

Related: What to expect in a reopened Las Vegas

All guests must go through a temperature check and follow the face-mask mandate. I was told by multiple people who attended the grand opening last night that mask enforcement was strict and distancing was in effect at the table games.

Stevens seemed confident Circa will be successful even in this challenging environment. "The American psyche has evolved quite a bit throughout the summer and fall. We [noticed] just a few weekends ago a noticeable increase in weekender business. Convention and large group business will struggle for an extended period of time. [But] Las Vegas will come back on the leisure traveler."

Circa will belong to the Club One program along with the other two resorts Stevens manages, The D and Golden Gate Hotel and Casino. Various shopping and dining venues in downtown Vegas also participate in the program.

Related: TPG's guide to casino loyalty programs

Resort amenities and gaming operations launched at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 28, but the hotel tower is still under construction with an anticipated opening in late December. Reservations for Stadium Swim, Circa Sports and dining venues are available on Circa's website now. You can also book one of Circa's 777 hotel rooms for stays beginning the evening of Dec. 28, 2020, with prices starting at $299 for opening night and dropping to about $119 per night for some 2021 dates. Oh and there's a resort fee — this is Vegas, after all.

Featured image by Steelman Partners LLP