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Gaming in Mountain Falls community draws pushback

A neighborhood park in the community of Mountain Falls was the setting for a discussion on whether gaming machines would benefit the Mountain Falls Grill Room, and the community at-large on Wednesday, June 24th.

Derek Fowler, a seven-year resident of the community known for its golf course, said he’s staunchly against the idea of introducing gaming inside the Grill Room Restaurant and Bar, as he organized a petition effort opposing the idea.

Fowler was joined by Shawn Holmes, president of Best Bet Products, a licensed manufacturer and distributor of refurbished gaming machines.

Holmes is looking to establish gaming inside the Grill Room.

The gathering

Upward of 100 individuals gathered at the park to hear both sides of the issue from Holmes and Fowler, who managed an online campaign against gaming at Mountain Falls.

“Tonight’s event was to organize in opposition to the gaming that’s been proposed to the Mountain Falls Grill Room,” Fowler said. “We have serious concerns about the safety of the neighborhood and the detriment that gaming is going to bring to the character of this neighborhood. There is no situation that I see where gaming contributes to our community in Mountain Falls. I am not opposed to gaming in Pahrump or Nevada, it’s simply in Mountain Falls specifically. There are a lot of people who want their voices heard and I am just one of them who is trying to organize those voices.”

The long haul

Fowler also spoke about the Mountain Falls Home Owners Association, (HOA) regarding the issue of gaming within the community.

“We have our work cut out for us and there are clauses in our HOA charter and clauses in the development agreement between Mountain Falls and the county,” he said. “But there aren’t any licenses issued for this proposed gaming establishment just yet, and our best bet at opposing this successfully is going to be with our county commissioners and the other powers that be.”

Congenial conversations

Additionally, Fowler noted that discussions between him and Holmes regarding the issue have been quite cordial.

“We started a dialogue and we’ve been in touch the last couple of days,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of respect for him as a small business owner. His attendance here tonight speaks to his character and his commitment. When the dust settles around here, I hope that this community welcomes him with open arms. Our goal here is to welcome him with open arms. I asked him to attend this event tonight.”

Expected pushback

Holmes, meanwhile, said he attended the meeting to make sure residents in Mountain Falls have all of the facts about the situation.

He also noted that Best Bet Products has been in town for roughly 20 years, after purchasing the Stage Stop Casino in Pahrump.

“Regarding those who opposed this, I think it was expected,” he said. “There is always fear with change and not everyone is going to approve of what we are doing, but there are people out there. They are obviously not here tonight, because this was to stop the gaming, but we have had people reach out to us asking for gaming. They are not here tonight because this isn’t the crowd for it.”

Holmes also made the argument that he believes gaming in Mountain Falls could possibly raise property values for homeowners in Mountain Falls.

“Obviously it’s debatable because they believe it will hurt them,” he said. “I do believe there are people, especially coming from out of town, who would choose to buy a house in an area close to gaming if that’s something they enjoy doing. I envision obviously the restaurant supporting the golf course and the community, separated by its own entrance area and a bar with up to 15 gaming machines. That bar will probably operate close to the operation hours of the restaurant. There’s still a lot of stuff to work out detail-wise. We actually leased out the Grill Room. It’s a long-term lease so we will be here awhile.”

Homeowner’s opinion

One person in the crowd was Mountain Falls resident Beverly Wesner, who said she and her family oppose the idea of gaming.

“My family owns four homes in Mountain Falls, and we call it our little Pahrump-pire,” she said. “It’s a beautiful community built around the golf course. This new owner seems to think that gaming is going to solve his financial problems. There is a lot of gaming in Pahrump, and we don’t need it in a home development community. I enjoy gambling, but I’m against it in a neighborhood. There is no way that gaming will increase property values here in Mountain Falls. I would never buy a home in a neighborhood where there’s gaming. That’s why I bought here.”

Petition results

Fowler, meanwhile, said he appreciates the support from homeowners in Mountain Falls, where a recent online poll and petition showed that most residents oppose the idea of gaming at the Grill Room.

“With 280 respondents, 70 percent have opposed gaming in Mountain Falls,” he said. “12 percent are indifferent, and I think 18 percent are for gaming in Mountain Falls. That is a significant difference. The petition is wide open for as long as we have a voice. We will present it to the Board of County Commissioners and to the planning department when licensure is up. County government will ultimately make that decision, and that’s our best bet at being successful in our opposition. Nothing about this is political. We aren’t focused on anything about the transition of the Grill Room, other than the gaming. Gaming is our only opposition. If gaming is established here, I won’t partake. I will sell my house as soon as I can.”

Regarding when the issue will be resolved, Holmes, like Fowler said it will be determined by county and state officials.

“Of course this all depends on us getting our gaming and liquor license, which would be both the county and state process,” he said. “I don’t think they would have a lot of reasons to not approve us personally, because we already have 16 to 17 gaming and liquor licenses in the community.”

Contact reporter Selwyn Harris at sharris@pvtimes.com. On Twitter: @pvtimes

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