Christmas Tree
23900 Mount Rose Highway
1947 - 1978

Christmas Tree
Photo from the Rick Olsen Collection
Christmas Tree
Photo from the Mark Englebretson Collection



Mark Englebretson
Grade 3

Mark Englebretson
Grade 2

Mark Englebretson
Grade 2

Mark Englebretson
Grade 2

John Rauzy
Grade 2

Richard & Bev Siri
Grade 2

Louie Eliopoulos
Grade 2



The Christmas Tree was located at 23900 Mount Rose Highway and licensed sporadically from 1948 to 1978 for slots, 21, craps, and roulette.

John and Alice Ross built and opened the Christmas Tree as a bar in the winter of 1946. They added the restaurant in 1947.

Over the years, there were many owners and operators of the Christmas Tree, and in many cases the bar and restaurant owner leased out the gambling concession. Longtime Nevada gamblers Nick Abelman and Walter Parman were actively involved in the early days of the Christmas Tree. Well-known concessionaire Virgil Smith is believed to be the first person to lease the gaming.

John and Alice Ross sold the operation to Jim Jeffress in 1948, and in 1952 Jeffress sold "The Tree" to Guy Michael and Art Fisher. Michael and Fisher operated the gaming until December 1959, when the Nevada Gaming Control Board closed the Christmas Tree and accused the 21 dealer of "turning the deck". Michael insisted that "there must be a misunderstanding, we are basically a restaurant and we would do nothing to harm our reputation". He requested and was granted a hearing on the revocation; however, on January 21, 1960, the Christmas Tree was ordered to surrender its gaming license.

The gaming was leased to George Slovin in June 1960 and to Dan Skanovsky in 1961. Bob Peccole leased the gaming in 1962 and 1963. Peccole was a well-known and popular gaming figure in Northern Nevada, and the Christmas Tree enjoyed great success in the early 1960s, with Michael and Peccole proving to be a good combination. In September 1963 Val Ruggerio was granted the gaming license and operated the gaming until February 1964.

In July 1966, with Art Woods and Guy Michael listed as licensees, the Christmas Tree was again closed by the Gaming Control Board when loaded dice were taken from the craps table.

In 1967 the Christmas Tree was destoryed by fire. The combination of a bout with cancer, the license revocation, and the destruction of the property led Guy Michael to sell the business to Al Kuckhoff, who rebuilt and reopened the Christmas Tree. The casino operators for Kuckoff were Menicucci and Ken Clever.

Kuckhoff leased the property to Peter Apostolos in 1969. The business was plagued by financial problems, and in 1972 the bank foreclosed on the popular restaurant-casino operation.

The business remained closed until 1976, when is was reopened by Gloria Michael. She leased the gaming to Don Gilfillian, who operated the casino from December 1976 to spring 1978. Longtime Lake Tahoe gambler Jerry Mesorobian was Gilfillian's casino manager.

The next owners of the Christmas Tree were David and Mary Ellen Houston. David Houston is a Reno attorney. His mother, Virginia Houston, a longtime Reno resident, was a dealer at Harolds Club for many years. The Houstons purchased the property in 1983. Gloria Michael Stein worked for them as their chef and helped to manage the restaurant until they sold the property in August 1995 to Don, Lisa, and Dana Emerson.

In 1998 the property was operating as a restaurant but was not licensed for table games.

According to Dwayne Kling