The Holiday Casino

The Holiday casino opened at the corner of Mill and Lake Streets in December of 1956. The eight-story tower offered two-hundred-rooms, many overlooking the Truckee River. Downstairs the casino held fifty slot machines licensed by A-1 Supply. Norman Biltz and Stanley Dollar conceived the idea for the property, but Dollar pulled out of the deal before investing any money. Biltz , who was a partner in locals casinos like the Cal-Neva at Lake Tahoe and the Golden Hotel in Reno, brought in a few minor investors to take up the slack. None of them were licensed for gaming and no table games were found in the new Holiday.

The following year Newton Crumley, Jr. of Elko and five partners purchased the struggling property. Crumley and his father, Newton Crumley, Sr. owned the Ranch Inn and Commercial hotel in Elko, Nevada. The new partners licensed their own slot machines and brought in two crap games, four 21 tables and a roulette wheel. Walt Parman, former owner of the Tahoe Village casino, was the casino manager.

Crumley, the driving force behind the casino, was killed with friend Eddie Questa (President of the First National Bank of Nevada) in a small plane crash in Tonopah, NV during a snowstorm in February of 1962. The property passed quickly to Carl Hicks and David Burns who ran the club until selling to Tom Moore, Austin Hemphill and John Monfrey in 1967 for $5 million.

The property went forward as Tom Moore’s Holiday, but even in the early 70’s the property struggled for customers. Amarillo Slim Preston brought a group of poker players (including Doyle Brunson, Johnny Moss, Puggy Pearson and casino owner Benny Binion) to the property for a wild game feed and a poker tournament. Binion started the World Series of Poker the following year at his club in Las Vegas.

A few years later the Holiday was sold to Al Ferrarri and Len McIntosh. Business was never brisk, and the property stayed afloat with a small bingo parlor and video poker. In the 1980’s the Riverside and the Mapes casinos were in the same sinking boat of casinos along the river. They both sank to oblivion.

Somehow, the Holiday held on for another 15 years before closing. It sold at public auction in 1999 for $2.5 million. Barney Ng and architect Peter Wilday rebuilt the property and opened in 2001 as the Siena after a thorough remodeling that chewed up half of the $50 million the company would eventually invest. It took nearly a decade of falling market share for the Italian theme resort to fall into bankruptcy.

Once again the property went to public auction, this time selling for $3.9 million. It has now reopened as the Grand Siena with a more mature audience in mind. The $5 million facelift added marble, LED lighting and imported artwork.

More on the Holiday and other early Nevada casinos is found in books like Dwayne Kling’s “The Rise of the Biggest Little City” and “Nevada’s Golden Age of Gambling”.