Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall Closes for $185 Million Renovation
One of the wondrous things about the human condition is we can feel many emotions at the same time. That was this blog’s experience as we witnessed the closing of Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall & Casino on Feb. 4, 2013.
Two main emotions swirled around that day. One was a certain sadness, as we know how much we’ll miss Bill’s, a great, old-school hang-out with legions of rabid fans.
The other emotion was the feeling of anticipation we get when we think about Las Vegas newness, like the new incarnation of Bill’s (the new name hasn’t been announced yet) that will be a year in the making.
As Bill’s closed, right around noon on Feb. 4, we got to see some now-familiar sights. (We were at the closing of O’Sheas, as well.) The last bets at the various games. The final counting and packing up of chips at the tables.
Here’s some random video we grabbed as Bill’s closed up shop.
It’s like having an old friend who decides to leave the country to join the Peace Corps. Or something. It helps to remember the great times, and to keep in mind you’ll be seeing them again.
Since this blog happens to be a Bill’s enthusiast, just like many of the players at the tables on closing day, we decided to focus on the “lasts” to tide us over until Bill’s opens again as a boutique hotel that will feature, among other things, renovated rooms and a rooftop pool deck with what will be an incredible view of The Strip.
Among the “lasts” we saw was the final spin of the roulette wheel. The number was “7,” just for the record.
Another memorable “last” was a hot roll by a longtime craps player, Phil Thacker. Phil learned craps at Bill’s, 20 years ago, so the team at Bill’s felt it fitting that he be the last one to hold the dice. As in the case of the roulette wheel, the last roll at Bill’s was a “7.” We caught a pic just as the last roll happened.
Phil Thacker commented, “I’ve been coming to Las Vegas since 1992. I’m here with my two sons-in-law. We stay at different places on The Strip, but we always come back to play craps here. It’s been a good place to us, and we’ve really enjoyed it.”
Once the table games shut down, Bill’s cleared out, slowly but surely, with customers and team members snapping some photos along the way.
So many memories flood in as you see the different parts of Bill’s. For example, the Victorian Cafe (photo below), and those glorious dinner rolls and stained glass windows.
There’s also the lounge, where Pete “Big Elvis” Vallee performed an estimated 7,000 times (even back when the hotel was the Barbary Coast) before moving to Harrah’s Las Vegas.
There are bars, of course. Deep sigh.
The beer pong. The poker room and sports book.
The slushy drinks at Slush.
And Rapid Craps. Bill’s was the only place that had the game (it’s moving to The Quad now), and it was surreal seeing the game’s screens reading “No more bets.”
As things wound down, tables were closed, one by one. A tenacious group of guys stuck it out at the blackjack tables until the bitter end. They, too, were on a winning streak.
At one point, a cocktail waitresses approached the blackjack table and mentioned it would be the last tray of drinks she’d bring. This blog whispered “last call,” and it all suddenly became very real. One of the players gave her an long embrace. That’s the moment we’ll always remember from closing day at Bill’s.
We tried to preserve more Bill’s memories with our camera. Further consolation may be found in other places to do the things you’ve loved doing at Bill’s.
So, let’s raise our glasses and say “goodbye” to an old friend, Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall & Casino.
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