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Reno Circus Circus Casino Review

Almost everyone has heard of the Circus-Circus at some point in their lives – perhaps as gamblers, parents, or even kids whose classmate told them about all the nifty games and shows. And almost everyone has an image in their minds of what the Circus-Circus is – a grand resort more resembling a carnival than a casino or hotel, a giant big-top tent with rooms in it, or perhaps a skyscraper filled with booths selling cotton candy. This is not that Circus-Circus.

I would like to point out that I have heard fabulous things about the Circus-Circus in Las Vegas from friends and co-workers who have kids, but this is not a review of that resort. The Circus-Circus in Reno, NV is inarguably a pale comparison to the one in Vegas, but for anyone who’s visited Reno, this isn’t a huge surprise – Vegas and Reno are simply different beasts.

Reno Circus Circus Casino Review

Reno Circus Circus Casino Sign Photo

That being said, the Reno Circus-Circus does have several things to offer the avid gambler or family on vacation. For starters, it’s a great place to park. The two large parking garages are completely free, without any need for validation. While it’s located at the far northern edge of downtown, anyone with willingness to walk a few extra minutes can use this as a starting point for exploring the entire downtown area. Almost everywhere else is metered or customer-only parking, and, as a local, I can say that I park at the Circus-Circus for all of my downtown excursions.

But is there anything else to the place besides keeping your car dry? Absolutely. The entire second floor is filled with several restaurants serving mostly American-style food, and an area called the Midway, which includes arcade games, carnival-style games, such as shooting targets with water pistols and knocking over milk jugs with bean-bags, and the pièce de résistance– the stage. But this isn’t a stage you’d see at a local poetry reading venue or a bar that occasionally boasts a live band or two. No, this stage has nets, tight-ropes, and other accoutrements that could be identified by any child as belonging in a circus.

Circus Circus Reno Midway Photo

Circus Circus Reno Midway Photo

It’s not just a prop – a schedule is posted next to the stage, detailing all of the daily show times. The acts consist of everything from acrobats on the high-wire to mimes climbing towers of balancing chairs. This is what makes the Circus-Circus a unique family destination, and the best part is that you don’t have to be a guest in the hotel to enjoy it. The Midway is easily accessible to anyone who cares to watch a show (which is completely free) or try their shot at tossing a rubber chicken into a barrel. For the less family oriented visitor, there is also a bar that serves margaritas by the yard, and a small venue on the first-floor that occasionally features small-name bands. A word of warning: the Midway gets packed during holidays and the summer months, so if you want to see a particular show, it’s highly recommended that you show up early and find a good spot; there are no seats, so feel free to loiter anywhere.

And then there’s the gambling floor. Well, technically there are two – the second level has slots for those who wish to game in a non-smoking environment, while the first floor features the rest of the games, including penny slots, craps, roulette, several variations of poker, and a few virtual machines for craps, blackjack, and roulette. While the machines and tables are well-kept, the rest of the décor is fading and rather unremarkable. It only tends to get busy in the peak seasons, and during a recent visit on a Wednesday evening, only four of the thirty tables were open, in total, all of them poker.

The promotions were also lackluster – it says something that the most interesting one was a dining incentive that rewarded players with a lotto-like scratcher ticket. There were no visible sign-up deals for new players club members, and I only saw one ad in the entire building that mentioned their players club at all.

Just as one might expect, the Circus-Circus is not the place for serious gamblers. It’s designed to allow Uncle Roy time with the kids, while mommy and daddy enjoy some margaritas and a few rounds of Mississippi Stud. Still, you have to respect a company that knows what it’s good at and sticks to it.

Written by Kenny Stoneman in March 2014