Business & Real Estate

MontBleu casino at Lake Tahoe getting makeover

Another Lake Tahoe casino is getting a major makeover as the lake’s ailing tourism industry tries to reinvigorate itself.

The MontBleu Resort announced a $24 million renovation Tuesday that will cover the casino and all 437 rooms and suites.

The renovation comes three months after the aging Horizon Casino, located across the street from the MontBleu, announced a $60 million overhaul that will culminate with the property being converted into the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.

Tahoe tourism has been struggling for more than a decade because of the explosion of Indian casinos in California. Overnight stays at south shore hotels and motels have fallen by more than 30 percent since 2001. Gambling revenue at Tahoe has dropped some 40 percent during the same period. Industry experts say the Tahoe area also is feeling the effects of the $800 million Graton Resort & Casino, which opened last November in Sonoma County.

Nontheless, there have been flickers of hope. In August, south shore gambling revenue rose 33 percent from a year earlier. Tourism officials have pointed to millions of dollars worth of real estate projects around the lake as a sign that the market could be improving.

Besides the two casino projects, a retail complex is being built in the infamous “hole in the ground,” a parcel that was going to become a convention center on Highway 50 near the California-Nevada border but has sat idle for five years. Elsewhere on the lake, the Cal Neva resort on the north shore is undergoing a major renovation, and a $400 million expansion is due to begin next spring at Homewood Mountain Resort near Tahoe City after years of delays.

At the MontBleu, formerly Caesars Tahoe, hotel executives said the property will be redone in a “Scandinavian fantasy” motif. The project, which is already under way, is due to be complete next May. The MontBleu is owned by Tropicana Entertainment.

Call The Bee’s Dale Kasler, (916) 321-1066. Follow him on Twitter @dakasler.