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Reno Sands Regency Casino Review

About six years ago, at 2 AM on a Sunday, some friends introduced me to a little place called Mel’s Diner. The 50’s-style neon sign on the outside proudly proclaimed it to be “The Original,” but I was less impressed by that than I was by the fact that I could get a stunning traditional American breakfast after midnight, and on the cheap. It wasn’t until much later, and I was much more awake, that I realized that this little gem is actually a part of the Sand’s Regency Casino Hotel.

It’s quite possible that you’ve never heard of the Sands, and that’s perfectly understandable. The place is set back to blocks off the main road in downtown Reno, and doesn’t have any major attractions to speak of. They don’t do huge shows like their neighbors, the Silver Legacy and El Dorado, and they can’t boast of any particularly unique features or gimmicks. But all of this works out to your advantage.

Reno Sands Regency Hotel

Reno Sands Regency Hotel

The standard clientele tends to be older, probably those who were regulars back in Reno’s heyday. There’s nothing wrong with that – in fact, it’s what makes the Sands so remarkable. It’s quiet, clean, you don’t typically have to worry about hooligans starting fights, and the rooms are unbelievably cheap. If you book online during the off-season, you can snag a room for $25/night. Now, this goes up during the summer and holidays, of course, but it’s a safe bet that the Sands will almost always be cheaper (and likely have more availability) than the rest of the downtown big-shots. Oh, and they also have a pool, which most of the other hotels don’t quite have room for. During a Reno summer, that’s a huge perk.

Reno Mels Diner at Sands Regency Casino

Reno Mels Diner at Sands Regency Casino

The casino itself is quite small, but somehow, that’s not a bad thing. As I mentioned, the Sands is nice and quiet, and while you’ll never escape the essential sounds of slot-machines and automatic deck-shufflers, there’s a certain sense of calm to the place. There are all the usual suspects – blackjack, poker, craps, roulette, penny slots, etc. Of course, because it’s so small, it’s probably not the single best place for the fervent gambler, because most games only have one or two tables, so if it gets busy, you’ll be stuck waiting for a spot. Then again, who cares about waiting when you can just grab an awesome milkshake at Mel’s, which is only about 50 feet away from the casino floor? I can personally attest to the fact that you’ll be looking for excuses to grab a milkshake or omelet there.

I may not visit terribly often, but there’s just something I love about the Sands. You see, if Club Cal-Neva is the dark side of Reno’s glory days, then the Sands is a glimmering ray of hope that has managed to cling to the past while adjusting for the future. They’re only just now turning their marketing toward a younger crowd, but even the 20 and 30-somethings I’ve seen at the property have all been low-key and just looking to quietly enjoy themselves. Sometimes you want to gamble, and sometimes you want to chill, but why not have both?

Written by Kenny Stoneman in March 2014.