Keno Lounge Closes at El Cortez Casino

Yet another keno lounge has closed, this time at El Cortez casino on Fremont Street.

Live keno has seen a slow decline in recent months (years, really). Anther downtown casino, Four Queens, shut down its keno room on May 31, 2021.

Unrelated to the story, we just like what El Cortez has done with its high limit room.

The bottom line is keno lounges take up a good deal of space and don’t really generate a lot of revenue for casinos. They’re more an amenity, like salons and poker rooms and those branded pens you constantly steal, although, in your defense, is it really “stealing” if they want you to steal them?

Here’s a look at the former keno lounge area at El Cortez.

El Cortez keno closed

Keno runners are now more rare than royal flushes in Las Vegas.

On the bright side, closing a keno lounge is sparing gamblers the pain of learning, often the hard way, live keno has the worst odds of any game in a casino. By far.

Keno’s house advantage can be 35 percent or more.

Still, live keno is woven into the fabric of the Las Vegas casino experience. Or was woven. Longtime keno fans enjoy the slow pace, and low cost, of the game. It’s a way to kill some time and enjoy some comped beverages.

These days, keno is tougher to find than ever. Las Vegas has about half the keno parlors it did 25 years ago. The vast majority of keno lounges are downtown or at locals casinos.

In further disappointing news, El Cortez now charges a five percent fee for its coin exchange service. The service was once free.

Moist coins are apparently a thing.

Hey, no casino’s perfect, and El Cortez remains one of our favorite places to play downtown.

El Cortez is an old-school casino, with great values, including an extraordinarily low bar to qualify for comped drinks. Literally, 20 cents a hand on video poker.

Strip casinos are experiencing heart palpitations right now.

If you haven’t visited El Cortez, it’s well worth a stroll down Fremont Street.

El Cortez is a grittier casino experience than what you might find on The Strip, but its throwback vibe, low minimums and friendly staff make it a downtown gem, keno or not.

13 thoughts on “Keno Lounge Closes at El Cortez Casino

  1. Mike Scudiero

    The last time I was at El Cortez playing $25 a hand at blackjack on a good rules table, the pit boss stood over the table and watched me like a hawk. I cashed out about $150 ahead in a half hour and felt like I needed to run before they trespassed me. Jeez.

  2. Matt

    El Cortez is my favorite hotel casino I have been to in LV. I prefer it to the large strip resorts. I have stayed in all of the room choices except across the street at the Cabana Suites. The pavillion rooms above the garage are great as they have basically a balcony overlooking Fremont St. The vintage rooms above the casino are a great value and walking downstairs hearing the sounds of the casino is cool. The prime rib special at Siegel’s is good the coffee is good to. I liked the old look of the Keno room but if it aint makin money and drawing people in its time to go.

  3. GregM

    Since you mentioned it, the high limit room is nice. However, it’s a total waste of space. I’ve only seen it as in the pictures….EMPTY!

  4. BST

    For years I enjoyed stopping in not for the keno but the history .
    Would have lunch and or a drink and gamble a bit.
    The last time ( and its’ been a couple years or so ) I had to leave right after entering pretty from the over-kill of the freshener aroma or whatever it is called they use in the air .
    Grant you it covered the nasty smell of smoke but it was to powerful for me .
    I think it will still be a fun little place minus the keno for those that are not bothered by certain smells .

  5. Susie Chapman

    I was a Keno runner at the Fremont and Golden Nugget
    back in 1988-1991. Another part of my Vegas history is slowly dying away. It was a good run for Keno and I still have great memories of some of the people I had the pleasure of meeting.

  6. Donna Bolton

    Your post brings back fun Vegas and Reno memories. I liked it when Keno was more personable. Most Keno runners were very pleasant and it was always fun to have a short chat with them. My last visit to Vegas was Jan 2020 so I’m hoping when I get back there when the border reopens that live Keno is still at Bally’s

  7. Richard

    Big Mistake on the Keno Lounges. For the
    last 30 years I would play Keno for 3 days straight when visiting from Ca. (about 8 times a year). Note we now play at the Red Rock, since the formerly Hilton closed their Keno lounge. My wife would play the slots, as many wives do as their husbands are in the Keno Lounge. Keep being greedy Las Vegas, we know times have been tough, but you have taken away our Buffet’s , and if you take away our Keno, why would I ever go to Las Vegas again. To bad over the years we have met and made some great friends playing Keno. Most are big time Keno players who also occupy the sports book and play slots. By the way the food at a lot of Casinos stinks compared to the Buffet. We don’t want to eat in Chain Restaurants. So we have to go outside the Hotel to eat. Well now even Vegas has gone woke!!! To Bad.


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