Nevada Dorm Casino

The famous clown adorns the Circus Circus casino in front of its downtown Reno, Nevada, casino hotel.

Associated Press

RENO, Nev. (AP) — University of Nevada, Reno officials knew it was a bit of a gamble when they agreed to lease a downtown casino hotel tower for a year and turn it into a college

dormitory.

They expected some criticism but had less than six weeks to find rooms for 1,300 students after a July 5 gas explosion shut down their two biggest residence halls, one for at least

two years.

The challenge was compounded by their determination to house as many as possible in the same building — a tall order in an extremely tight housing market where an influx of new jobs at Tesla, Microsoft, Apple and elsewhere has sent rental rates skyrocketing.

Yet with fall classes beginning Monday, school officials say there’s been less pushback than anticipated to the unorthodox arrangement with Eldorado Resorts’ Circus Circus, at one end of Reno’s main casino drag about a half-mile (800 meters) from campus.

For nearly every student who has requested reassignment out of the Circus Circus, there’s been another who has asked to move into the newly renovated hotel, where the former wedding chapel is being converted into a study center with USB ports.

Instead of a smoky floor of poker tables and slot machines, students enter the nonsmoking, nongambling tower through a quiet marbled foyer with potted plants and a security guard. Upstairs they find queen- and king-size beds, 40-inch (100-centimeter) plasma TVs, mini-fridges and private bathrooms.

“I don’t want to mislead you. There were a handful that were just, ‘No way,’” said Shannon Ellis, vice president for student services.

But as of Friday, only 19 students remained on the list requesting reassignment from what’s now called “Wolf Pack Tower.”

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