A new ownership group cut the ribbon to celebrate the reopening of The New Phoenix Casino on Wednesday, March 1, which opened its doors back in October.
The New Phoenix isn’t new to La Center. The card room opened in 1991, but closed in 2017. Business partners Victor Mena and Bob Clark have the majority ownership of the venue, while previous owner George Teeny remains a partner.
“In the opening of the Phoenix, we made The Last Frontier all poker and the Phoenix is all house-banked table games,” Mena said.
Those table games include blackjack and baccarat.
Mena said approximately 210 people are employed at The Last Frontier and New Phoenix Casino.
“We definitely want to make sure that the community understands that we are there to support them,” he said.
After a soft reopening in October, the City of La Center approached the casino to host the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Community members, city leaders and others were in attendance as the ribbon was cut by General Manager Chris Swindell.
Mena has been in the card room industry since 2001. He has opened three card rooms from the ground up and has managed up to 10 at one time when he was the vice president for Nevada Gold.
Mena’s company was bought by Maverick Gaming in 2019, which operates 22 card rooms in Washington. That led Mena to partner with the owner of New Phoenix and The Last Frontier.
The New Phoenix includes a new bar area in the gaming room, which makes it easier for servers and players to access drinks, the owners said.
“In here, we have 15 tables. That’s what we’re allowed by law,” Mena said. “We spread it out all the way across the room so it’s nice and open for everybody. It’s well lit, which is a nice feature, I think. It’s not like the old card rooms that were really dark and dingy.”
The minimum for most of the table games is set at $5, which can be more inviting to the casual gambler, while baccarat’s minimum is $10.
The New Phoenix features an Asian influence, which can be found in the cuisine and through hints in the design.
The amount of TV screens adorning the walls adds a sports bar feel, providing patrons with easy viewing. Despite the sports bar amenities at both New Phoenix and The Last Frontier, Washington only allows sports wagering at tribal casinos.
The New Phoenix features a lounge, which has been dubbed the Fan Cave. It features numerous televisions and includes a couple of 85-inch screens so people can watch sports and other requests.
The bar in the Fan Cave is separated from the rest of the lounge, which allows seating for those under the age of 21.
There’s also a restaurant area available for catered events. Mena plans to turn that area into another, open-to-all, restaurant once he is able to bring on more food and beverage staff.
“For the month of March, we’re going to offer a 25% food discount to anybody who’s a resident of La Center, Ridgefield, Woodland and Battle Ground,” Mena said. “Any guest that comes in and wants to order food in house will receive a 25% discount. All they have to do is show us their ID to show us what city they reside in.”
La Center’s Mayor Pro Tem Elizabeth Cerveny said The New Phoenix and The Last Frontier have been great community partners.
“I’m sure with (George Teeny) staying on and giving the new partners his wisdom and guidance on what works and what doesn’t in the community, they will learn from that and build their own future. And by the looks of it so far, they have been doing very, very well,” Cerveny said.