Sarah Feldberg
Sarah Feldberg

There's a construction site at the corner of Fremont and Main streets in downtown Las Vegas, waiting to be transformed into something new. That something is a 777-room casino resort with 117,740 square feet of gaming space, a handful of restaurants, a pool and a rooftop lounge. It will be named for its address: 18 Fremont.

"We were able to put together a package that was the entire city block," said Derek Stevens, owner of the Golden Gate Hotel & Casino, the D and the forthcoming property on the site of the former Las Vegas Club. "We spent a good year demolishing everything. We're getting very close to finalizing the schematic design."

Stevens and his brother, Greg, have been focused on downtown Las Vegas, often referred to by visitors as "Old Vegas," since they purchased the Golden Gate about 10 years ago. In 2011, they bought the property then known as Fitzgeralds, remodeling it into the D, with light references to their hometown of Detroit.

When the opportunity arrived to purchase the Las Vegas Club along with nearby properties Girls of Glitter Gulch and Mermaids, Stevens saw the potential.

"I'm a big believer in downtown. I'm a big believer in Fremont Street," he said. "We really think there's just a tremendous growth [opportunity] in all of Las Vegas and particular in downtown."

Stevens is recently submitted an application to the Nevada Gaming Control Board for a sports betting license that would allow the company to cease outsourcing operations to William Hill and take sports betting in-house, opening an independent book that would have locations at all three resorts.

"We've always wanted to run our own sportsbook. With the two locations, we didn't think we had enough volume to have a viable application," Stevens said. The addition of 18 Fremont "put us over the hump."

Last year, Stevens made headlines with a pair of big-dollar bets on the NCAA basketball championship game, including a $25,000 futures wager on Michigan at the Golden Nugget that would've paid out $1 million had the Wolverines won.

"I love the competition. I love the math," he said of his own appreciation for sports betting.

A new independent line in the city will be good for gamblers, he said, adding that the Supreme Court's ruling to allow states to greenlight sports wagering will likely cause a bump in interest.

"We think we're going to continue to see some great growth in sports betting. We really think the growth is going to be tremendous."

Specifics on how the resorts will cater to that growth are scant right now, though Stevens was willing to drop one detail: At 18 Fremont, "[w]e're going to have the largest big screen to watch games in sportsbook history."

Other than that, he said, they're keeping the design quiet for now. "We're just excited about building this new project and bringing sports [in-house] at the D and Golden Gate."

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