South Shore’s Early Casinos

South Shore Lake Tahoe had dozens of early casinos, from the Silver Club to Nevada Club, and even Dopey Norman’s. The procession of casinos housed on the same spot is also an interesting subject, often debated by early investigators and finally proven by later writers after gaming documents and licenses proved or disproved ownership and tax role locations.

One of the most confusing issues was on the lake side of highway 50, where Harvey’s Wagon Wheel eventually dominated from the state line to the Sahara Tahoe. In the picture above, you can see where Dopey Norman’s was, next to George’s Gateway Club, and finally Harvey’s. Dopey’s became Tony’s in 1954, about the same time that Anthoney Gretch was trying to get settled into the Stateline Country Club with his partner Paul Venturi – but their dealings with landlord Nick Sahati soured quickly as he tried to worm his way out of the five-year lease at $150,000 per season.

A year later, Bill Harrah purchased George’s Gateway and then acquired Tony’s. Then, after naming his new casino Harrah’s Lake Club, he purchased the Stateline Country Club across the highway in 1958 and built Harrah’s Tahoe. Both casinos were in operation for nearly ten years, until Bill Harrah decided it was time to trade some land Harvey Gross owned on the mountain side of the highway for Harrah’s Lake Club on the lake side.

Harrah’s Stateline purchase did not include the Tahoe Palace, which had previously been the Twin States, Colonial, and became the Tahoe Plaza. Eventually, most of that property was absorbed into the Harrah’s fold but did not include the spot where Barney’s Casino opened in 1960 – see the video Who Killed the South Shore Casino Owner in 1968 – for more information.

Next door to Barney’s, the Park Tahoe opened in the late 1970s before becoming Caesar’s Tahoe. Next door to Harvey’s and across from Barney’s, the Sahara Tahoe opened in ’65 before becoming the High Sierra, then the New Horizon and finally the Hard Rock. Barney’s Became Bill’s Casino in 1988.

Down the street was Caesar’s Inn – not a part of the Caesar’s casino group – which became Harvey’s Inn later in 1972. Next door was Gary’s Casino. Back across the street was the Tahoe Village in 1947, which became the Casino de Paris, then Olivers, which burned down in the 1960’s. Taking it’s place was the South Shore Club in 1965, then the South Tahoe Club in 1966 and then the South Tahoe Nugget the following year – owned by Richard Chartrand and Woodrow Loftin. Sharkey Begovich managed the property and later opened Sharkey’s Casino in Gardnerville.

Barney O’Malia, who partnered with Chartrand in 1960 to get Barney’s Casino open, moved back to the El Capitan casino in Hawthorne after selling his share to Chartrand in 1967. Chartrand was killed the following year in a car bombing. Casino ownership in South Shore is confusing, and dangerous, apparently.


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