Moulin Rouge, Las Vegas Bought By Australian Investment Firm

moulin rouge

The Moulin Rouge casino in Las Vegas only traded for six months but it’s an iconic venue. It is steeped in history and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The Moulin Rouge doors have remained closed for more than 60-years, but Australian investment firm BBC Capital has plans to revive the famous property.

Clark County District Court Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez approved BBC Capital’s request to purchase the land in mid-November. The Australian firm assigned all interests to RAH Capital, a newly-created Nevada-based company, on December 4.

The site’s 11.3 vacant acres cost RAH Capital US3.1 million. RAH Capital’s purchase includes the parcel attached to an active non-restricted gaming license. RAH Capital agreed to almost US$2 million plus interest in liens associated with removing building materials on the site.

Josh Reid is an attorney representing BBC Capital. He met with the Las Vegas City Council on November 4 and confirmed an agreement for Moulin Rouge had been reached.

“My client’s very excited about doing a casino project on the property, has already engaged with some community members, understands the history of the site and my client looks forward to working with the city on planning a great project for that site.”

Moulin Rouge: A Casino Before Its Time

Moulin Rouge opened for business on May 24, 1955 at a cost of $3.5 million. Those doors slammed shut in October 1955 before the owners filed for bankruptcy in the December.

The casino and hotel opened at a time was segregation was rife in Las Vegas. Most casinos and hotels in Las Vegas were off limits to black people unless they were entertainment or employees.

Vester Heath and a group of other white investors saw the need for a fully integrated hotel. They raised funds and built Moulin Rouge at 900 West Bonanza Road. This area was between the predominately white area of The Strip and the mostly black West Side.

Several of the world’s best black entertainers performed and stayed at Moulin Rouge. Sammy Davis Jr., Louis Armstrong, and even Nat King Cole were regulars. Business was booming with former employees stating it was standing room only most nights.

Sheriff deputies closed Moulin Rouge in October 1955, only six months after it opened. They blamed the owners’ money mismanagement for city commissioners threatening to revoke the site’s gaming license.

Others believe Moulin Rouge was before its time by being fully integrated, which didn’t sit well with local officials. The truth lays somewhere in between.

Can A Casino Operate On The Site?

BBC Capital can operate the casino whenever it likes, although there’s plenty of rebuilding work to do first. Several fires badly damaged the interior of Moulin Rouge so that needs fixing. Demolition squads moved in during 2017 and flattened most of the old buildings.

The casino’s gaming license never expired thanks to a strange loophole in the terms and conditions.

Moulin Rouge and other closed properties open temporarily every two year. The state of Nevada renews the gaming licenses of any property that allows gambling for at least eight hours every alternate year.

This last happened in June 2020 and was comical. A trailer containing 16 pokies turned up and opened a pop-up casino. Gamblers fed quarters into the pokies for the required eight hours, creating a take of around $100. Workers loaded the trailer up with the machines, drove off, and Moulin Rouge had its gaming license extended!

Can a casino survive at the current Moulin Rouge location; that is a significant question. It is set away from the main Strip, approximately 2.5 miles from the Bellagio. Anything is possible these days, even if the gambling industry is on its knees in Las Vegas.