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STEVE SEBELIUS: Fun times at the Texas Station

Updated July 25, 2022 - 12:04 pm

I’ve been in Las Vegas a long time, and I’ve seen a lot of casinos come and go.

I was there when Steve Wynn blew up the Dunes and definitely could have used an N95 mask. I once stayed in the iconic Sands tower before the late Sheldon Adelson blew it up to build The Venetian. I even spent one night at the Glass Pool Inn.

And I’ve seen brand-new casinos, too. I covered the opening of the Luxor on the Strip and attended the opening of Treasure Island and the Main Street Station downtown.

But the news that the Texas Station would close permanently and be demolished affected me differently, for reasons I still can’t explain. I’ve spent many hours at that casino over the years, for reasons personal and professional.

The Texas Station opened in 1995, just three years after I first arrived in town as a reporter for the Las Vegas Sun.

Once, while working at Las Vegas CityLife before the turn of the millennium, I spent Christmas Day at the Texas Station with two friends from that paper, which is also sadly gone. We were shocked at how packed it was.

The ballroom was also packed the night I was invited to roast then-Mayor Oscar Goodman. Following Goodman’s example, I made sure I was properly prepared for the event by copious consumption of gin beforehand.

I don’t recall if my set killed — it was extremely loud in the ballroom that night — but I was told later that when I referenced one of then-Councilwoman Lynette Boggs McDonald’s more infamous public quotes, she fired back from the audience with some profanity and maybe an obscene gesture.

Ah, good times.

But the best part of Texas Station was that it was right up the street from the Review-Journal offices, close enough for lunch, and it had a small but well-curated food court. I’d pick up a New York Times or a Los Angeles Times from the gift shop, take it to the food court and enjoy a delicious Fatburger while also consuming the news.

Afterward, I’d toss a few dollars into a video poker machine. Sometimes, I made enough to cover lunch. Usually, I lost. But once, I hit a royal flush, something that I’ve done only twice in all my years in Las Vegas. (The other was at Big Dog’s on West Sahara, which closed in 2013 to give way to Jackpot Joanie’s.)

Texas also had a Starbucks, which was helpful to combat that post-lunch food coma induced by the king-size Fatburger.

And there was a nice movie theater there, too, for catching a first-run flick after work. The Texas Station had it all.

The convention area hosted a few professional events for the Review-Journal. Dubbed “Hashtags and Headlines,” the lunches drew newsmakers for a discussion of the issues of the day. They were informative, albeit not as fun (or gin-soaked) as that Goodman roast.

Texas Station was once the pride of North Las Vegas. Mayor John Lee held many State of the City lunches there.

According to Station Casinos President Scott Kreeger, Texas Station — along with its neighbor Fiesta Rancho and the Fiesta Henderson — were the company’s poorest performing properties, and their doom was all but assured post-pandemic. Station said it plans to demolish all three properties and sell the land, but not for anybody else to build a casino.

Anyone who’s been in Las Vegas for as long as I have knows not to get too attached to any particular place. Like the Good Book says about life, it’s a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. The Texas Stations give way to the Aliantes, the Durango Stations, the Red Rock Resorts. People work there for a time (two-thirds of the ex-employees of the three closed properties are no longer with the company) and move on.

The lesson? Enjoy each day at your favorite haunt because in a town that discards its old favorites as soon as the revenue figures fall, they could be casualties soon. For all of the nostalgia longtime Las Vegans have about our past, this town is as unsentimental as they come.

So thanks for the memories, Texas Station. I’m sure going to miss those Fatburgers.

The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Dr. Miriam Adelson, the previous owner of The Venetian.

Contact Steve Sebelius at SSebelius@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0253. Follow @SteveSebelius on Twitter.

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