Situated right on the California/Nevada border, Primm, Nevada has two casinos: Whiskey Pete’s, and Primm Valley Resort. A third casino, Buffalo Bill’s, which closed “temporarily” at start of Covid, remains closed as of this February 2022 update.
Formerly called “State Line” up until the mid-90’s, Primm is a small, isolated town 40 miles from the excitement of Las Vegas. Looking at map or driving it will confirm the fact it’s in the middle of nowhere.
So how does a town of 1,000 or so residents in the high desert sustain these casinos? It’s the first town with legalized gambling you get to when driving from Los Angeles to Las Vegas.
In fact, it’s entire economy is dependent on the gambling-hungry Southern Californians stopping by for a quick gambling fix before getting on their way to Las Vegas casinos.
Of course, some people make Primm their destination, much in the same way Mesquite is a border town destination on the eastern side of the state. Like Mesquite casinos, Primm casinos attempt to capture overnight visitors with buffets, concerts, and golf courses (Primm has 2 golf courses).
They also receive heavy traffic on Sunday afternoons, from visitors returning from Las Vegas heading home, and wanting to stop for gas, food, or just another crack at the slots before returning to normal life.
There’s also a large, 371,000 square foot indoor mall, called the Prizm Outlets, (formerly called the Fashion Outlets of Las Vegas), that also lures Southern Californians. It’s attached to the Primm Valley Resort.
The three casinos in Primm are as follows:
Whiskey Pete’s Hotel & Casino
Although pretty big, Whiskey Pete’s is a fairly modest resort. We stayed there after a Thanksgiving weekend and found the surroundings and room to be acceptable, but nothing special.
The hotel’s name comes from an actual person. Apparently a local gas station owner named Pete Macintyre supplemented his income by bootlegging whiskey, thereby acquiring the nickname, “Whiskey Pete.”
The hotel has an odd castle theme, and has around 777 rooms plus a showroom, however as of this update, the hotel is only open when sister property Primm Valley Hotel is booked.
Current hotel room availability can be found on their website here: PrimmValleyResorts.com/Whiskeypetes
Whiskey Pete’s Casino
Whiskey Pete’s has around 350 slots, including the usual favorites, (with limits up to $25), and video poker machines. There’s a small selection of table games, but more in terms of electronic versions of craps and roulette.
Dining options here include an IHOP, Cuca’s (Mexican food), as well as three fast-casual options: Subway, Qdboa, and a Starbucks.
The Pete’s Place Bar, which has live music, is closed as of this update.
Also on the casino floor is the actual car in which the infamous Bonnie & Clyde were killed. Please note however, that it is sometimes loaned out to museums.
Primm Valley Resort Hotel & Casino
The more “elegant” hotel in Primm, the Primm Valley Resort has 624 rooms, and an outlet mall attached to it on the south.
On the gambling front, the casino boasts 550 slots and video poker games, along live table games like blackjack, craps, roulette and 3-Card Poker (in addition to electronic table games).
The casino has and pretty nice William Hill sportsbook with plush seating, and plenty of screens and ticket windows/betting kiosks in case you’re stopping on the way to Las Vegas and need to get a bet in quick before game time.
In addition to GP’s Steakhouse, this resort’s dining options include the Primm and Proper cafe (serving burgers, salads and the like), and a food court with a Subway, Pizza, TCBY/Mrs. Field’s, and and ice cream shop.
Updated information can be found from the resorts’ official website here: Primmvalleyresorts.com
As a side note, just to the south of the casino and outlet mall is a little store on the California side of the border, called the Primm Lotto Store, that sells California Lottery tickets to Nevada residents looking for a big Powerball or Mega Millions payday.
Buffalo Bill’s Hotel and Casino (Closed)
As mentioned above, the largest of Primm’s three casinos, Buffalo Bill’s Hotel and Casino has been closed since the start of the pandemic. The property has over 1,200 rooms and a 46,000 square foot casino.
Before closing, the property had over 1,700 slots, the usual assortment of table games, and a race and sports book.
On the entertainment side, Buffalo Bill’s is home to a 6,500 seat arena. To put that in perspective, the population of Primm is around 1,000 residents. The Star of the Desert Arena attracts fairly big names, like Brooks & Dunn and Dolly Parton and those types of acts.
For the thrill-seeker, Buffalo Bill’s offered a couple of theme-park type rides. The Adventure Canyon Log Flume resembled a “Splash Mountain” at Disneyland. The $8 ride had a sharp plunge and floating boat ride.
The biggie was the enormous, highly-regarded roller coaster visible from all parts of town. Called the “Desperado,” the yellow roller coaster just looked scary. At least it did from the safe vantage point of my hotel room window.
The Desperado has a 60 degree, 225 foot drop, and parts of the ride go through the actual casino. When opened in 1994, shortly after the casino opened, the roller coaster was listed by the Guinness Book of World Records as the steepest, tallest coaster on the planet. It has since been surpassed in those categories.
The free tram that ran from Buffalo Bill’s to Primm Valley Hotel and Casino, and on across I-15 to Whiskey Pete’s, is apparently closed as well.
Primm, Nevada to Las Vegas
Primm, Nevada is 40 miles south of Las Vegas.
While it’s an affordable, quiet, laid-back town, for many, it’s just a place where you stop just to get your gambling fix, a meal, or restroom break after hours of driving on Interstate 15. Although there are hotels, slots, table games and shopping, the lure of Las Vegas less than an hour’s drive to the north is too tempting for many to spend a lot of time in Primm.
(By Steve Beauregard. Photos courtesy of Jayson via Flickr and Primm Valley Resorts).