Sparks, Nevada is a bustling city of 90,000 people in Washoe County. Located just east of Reno, the town grew up as the ugly sister, and it was often said that Reno was so close to hell you could see Sparks. The general area is sometimes referred to as Reno-Sparks, which may have been started during marketing campaigned in the 1960's by John Ascuaga, owner of the Nugget, who first billed his property as being located in East Reno. Sparks was the original home of Bill Harrah's automobile museum which housed over 800 vintage cars in the 1970's.
Sparks is home to ten casinos, most of which are small by Las Vegas and Atlantic City standards. As a railroad town of 20th century, the town was tough, with plenty of bars and places to get in trouble. Today, the town is clean, prosperous, and situated on the main highway (80) to Las Vegas.
Since the 1960's, John Ascuaga's Nugget has been the largest casino and largest employer in the city. Today the property sits on either side of the highway and has it's own off-ramp to help players find the parking lots and the main entrance.
Although the highway leads travelers past the city, old highway 40 used to bring players right past the casinos. The downtown are is now known as Victorian Square, and is the home of such events as Hot August Nights and the Rib Cookoff, which shut-down traffic on the main street so visitors can walk the area and enjoy the many booths and shows.Sparks Casinos
The Alamo Travel Center is actually off the beaten path, located at 1950 Greg Street (775) 355-8888. Next door is the Super 8 Motel. The casino has 244 slot and video poker machines and 9 table games. Table games include blackjack, Texas Hold'em, craps, and 3-5-7 poker. The poker room opens daily at 10am. The player's club has standard benefits and there is a single restaurant.
Baldini's Sports Casino is also located outside the downtown area at 865 South Rock Boulevard (800) 845-7911. Housed at what was once The Shy Clown, Baldini's has grown to be a popular locals casino with over 700 slot and video poker machines and 9 table games. The casino offers Keno and two restaurants, and also has a race and sports book.
Dotty's casino is a bar located at 1144 Victorian Avenue. The property has 40 slot and video machines, and the perfect location for festivities along Victorian Avenue.
John Ascuaga's Nugget is one of the premier properties in Northern Nevada. Located in the heart of downtown, the Nugget has a street address of 1100 Nugget Avenue (800) 648-1177. The large hotel features two towers, convention space, a health spa and salon, indoor pool, eight restaurants, seven bars, and an 80,000 square-foot casino. Live cabaret music plays daily and the ballroom has legends of the music industry throughout the year. There is also a wedding chapel and a large children's arcade.
The casino includes 1400 slot and video poker games, 50 table games, Keno, poker, and a large race and sports book. A bingo hall is also on-site. Table games include the standard blackjack, craps and roulette as well as favorites like Let-It-Ride, Three-Card-Poker, Four-Card-Poker, and Fortune Pai Gow.
The Mint casino has been at 1130 Victorian Avenue since it was called "B" Street (775) 359-4944. The small facility has a bar, cafe, and 165 slot and video machines.
Rail City Casino was once "The Plantation," located at 2121 Victorian Avenue (775) 359-9440. The property has 540 slot and video machines and features 11 table games. The property has a bar, three restaurants, plenty of Big Screen TV's, and a player's club. There is also a nice sports book, and Keno goes all day.
Sierra Sid's Casino is located at 200 North McCarran Boulevard (775) 359-0550, where Victorian Avenue intersects with McCarran. As part of a large travel center, the property has a restaurant and 183 slot and video games.
The Silver Club Hotel and Casino is located at 1040 Victorian Avenue but is currently under re-construction.
Western Village Inn and Casino is located at 815 Nichols Boulevard (800) 648-1170, near Highway 80 and the intersection of McCarran and Victorian Avenue. The property has 799 slot and video machines and 9 table games.
The property was originally a truck stop, so the 150 rooms are standard old-time motor lodge style. The adjacent casino has three restaurants and a deli, a generous player's club, and a race and sports book. Keno is available in the restaurants and casino, which has regularly scheduled live music.
Most of the casinos are too far apart to walk to, unlike the casinos in downtown Reno, but Sparks does have it's charm. Room rates are comparable to Reno, and the player's clubs offer much the same. Sparks is slightly closer to Las Vegas (a little over 400 miles) than Reno is, and a little farther from Lake Tahoe (about an hour's drive if heading up Mount Rose to North Shore).