April 1, 2021 – 5:25 pm
Images and video copyright Las Vegas Review-Journal
The dozens of people waiting outside to enter The Pass on Thursday evening grew mildly impatient.

They had been waiting a year to return to their local spot, after all.

“OK, enough, get the doors open,” one woman remarked with a happy chuckle.

Minutes later, the former Eldorado Casino reopened Thursday night for the first time as The Pass. The former Eldorado, then owned by Boyd Gaming Corp., closed last March due to the pandemic.

The opening marks the latest chapter in the history of the Water Street property. The Pass’ new ownership group, DeSimone Gaming, spent $7 million on renovations to overhaul the previously slots-only casino, offering new restaurants, a new sportsbook, 80 percent new gaming machines, table games, an event space and two bars.

More changes are on the horizon, owner Joe DeSimone said in an interview Monday. He has plans to bring a hotel to the property within a year-and-a-half.

All of the changes have taken place since Boyd struck a deal in December to sell the Eldorado to DeSimone Gaming. The renovated property has a modernized look, though DeSimone expects The Pass to maintain a neighborhood feel and its customer base to largely feature the same locals who frequented Eldorado.

“We’re gonna put our own touches on it, as we have, but hopefully we’ll always be able to look back to the time that the Boyds owned it with our customers and have good memories from that,” DeSimone said Monday. “But it was in our judgment it was time to put a facelift on it, bring it into the 21st century — and with a bang.”

Live gaming proved popular in its return Thursday to Water Street: four blackjack tables, a roulette table and a craps table. Circa CEO Derek Stevens sipped a Budweiser while sitting at a blackjack table with other Circa representatives. Stevens, whose Circa Sports company operates The Pass’ new sportsbook, let out a “Hey-oh!” and pumped his fists at a favorable draw…