Archive for the life in vegas Category

Grandissimo on Peter Greenberg Worldwide

I was one of many guests interviewed on Peter Greenberg Worldwide’s radio show. You can listen to the episode here:

Peter Greenberg Worldwide – Nobu Hotel Caesars Palace – January 18, 2014

 It was a nice chance to talk about Grandissimo for a national audience, and I’ve got to say that Peter is one of the best interviewers I’ve encountered. Totally conversational, but always moving the show ahead, talking with him on air is just great. I also talk candidly about my past career as Mr. Peanut, among other things. 

Talking about Grandisismo on Talk about Las Vegas

For the latest stop on the Grandissimo global media tour, I had a wonderful conversation with Ira David Sternberg for his show Talk about Las Vegas with Ira, which is broadcast on KUNV and is available for online listening as well.

Although this has just been released, it’s one of the first interviews I did for the book, and it was a great chance to discuss the book with someone who knows and ins and outs of Las Vegas past and present. 

You can listen to the show here, or visit the episode page

Grandissimo Reviewed in the Review-Journal

In this morning’s Las Vegas Review-Journal, columnist Jane Ann Morrison shared her thoughts on Grandissimo:

My view is that it’s a great read and a warts-and-all portrayal of Sarno, a dreamer (and a scoundrel) who was the visionary behind Caesars Palace, which reached out to high rollers, and Circus Circus, which went for the mass market, the yin and yang of Las Vegas gaming.

Sarno book reveals good, bad

There’s much more than that, and I encourage you to read the entire column

And you now have one more data point about Grandissimo—it is a good book to read on a flight to China. 

Seriously, it’s gratifying that the book has had such a positive critical reception. I worked very hard to write a book that did three things: accurately reflected Sarno’s life and career; recreated the feel of Las Vegas in the 1960s to 1980s; and was written in such a way that people actually enjoyed reading it. I love that several of the Amazon reviews have variations on the theme of “I couldn’t put it down.” I’m really glad that I was able to relate Sarno’s story in a way that is accessible and engaging.

If you don’t see a video, it’s…

If you don’t see a video, it’s here: http://youtu.be/EqZ82UwJuBQ

Author David G. Schwartz summarizes chapter 15, “A Clockwork Volcano: Las Vegas Strikes Back,” of Roll the Bones: The History of Gambling (Casino Edition).

This chapter starts by discussing some of the technological changes that made possible the rise of slot machines, like the introduction of video poker and wide area progressive games like Megabucks. It then talks about The Mirage, which opened in 1989 and kicked off the 1990s boom for Las Vegas. Although it completely changed the Las Vegas Strip, before it opened, many were skeptical that it would succeed.

We then learn about other important companies like MGM Mirage and the Mandalay Resort Group, which, through a series of mergers (including one with Mirage Resorts) became MGM Resorts. Las Vegas Sands, which owns the Venetian and Palazzo, is also profiled.

For more information about the book, visit http://www.rollthebonesbook.com

Author David G. Schwartz summarizes chapter 13, “The…

Author David G. Schwartz summarizes chapter 13, “The Burger King Revolution: Las Vegas bounces back for the first time,” of Roll the Bones: The History of Gambling (Casino Edition).

If you don’t see a video above, go here: http://youtu.be/SlyHlAfgxqM

This chapter covers the changes that tranformed Las Vegas in the 1980s. First, it deals with the forces that led to the mob’s decline and eventual exit from the ownership of casinos in Las Vegas. Then, it discusses the trends that led to a crisis for Las Vegas in the early 1980s, and how Las Vegas rebounded by remaking itself to appeal to mass-market and family vacationers.

Some casinos discussed include the Stardust, Riviera, Circus Circus, and Tropicana.

Author David G. Schwartz summarizes chapter 11, “The…

Author David G. Schwartz summarizes chapter 11, “The Sky’s the Limit: Las Vegas reaches for the stars,” of Roll the Bones: The History of Gambling (Casino Edition).

This chapter starts with the arrival of Jay Sarno, a true casino visionary who built Caesars Palace and Circus Circus. It then covers the impact on Las Vegas of an even more eccentric figure, Howard Hughes. From there, it discuses the corporate gaming acts, Kirk Kerkorian, the origins of the World Series of Poker, and several personalities who came to prominence in Downtown Las Vegas, including Steve Wynn, Jackie Gaughan, and Sam Boyd.

For more information about the book, visit http://www.rollthebonesbook.com

If you don’t see a video, please go here: http://youtu.be/Uxo63Wrx6Ns 

What a Guy!

One of the most important figures in 1940s Las Vegas gambling got his start on the right side of the law, crossed over to the wrong side, and then came back. Guy McAfee was a vice squad commander in the Los Angeles Police Department, who, it was discovered, had ownership interests in several illegal casinos. Resigning rather than facing corruption charges, he moved to Las Vegas, where he was involved with several legal casinos. He’s best known as the founder of the Golden Nugget.

There’s lots more about the early figures of Las Vegas gambling in Roll the Bones: The History of Gambling

Go here to read an excerpt from the book, or learn where to buy your copy.

A Place in the Sun

When it opened in 1952, the Sands casino was known as “A Place in the Sun,” and once it signed Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., and Dean Martin as entertainers, it became the most popular casino on the Las Vegas Strip.

Today, the Sands name lives on in Las Vegas Sands, Inc., the company that owns the Venetian, Palazzo, and Sands Expo Center on the Strip as well as casinos in Pennsylvania, Macau, and Singapore.

As a result, the Sands name is found in the world’s top three gambling markets—a fitting tribute to the place where Vegas got much of its magic back in the 1950s and 1960s.

You can read more about the Sands and other Las Vegas hotels  in Roll the Bones: The History of Gambling

Go here to read an excerpt from the book, or learn where to buy your copy.

Circus Circus Success

In the late 1980s, as other Las Vegas Strip casinos faltered, Circus Circus was prospering. Building its business on the “grind,” thousands of small players instead of a few big high rollers, Circus boasted a compound annual growth rate of more than 29 percent for the latter half of the decade. In doing so, it laid the groundwork for the 1990s Las Vegas casino boom.

You can read more about Circus Circus and other Las Vegas casinos in Roll the Bones: The History of Gambling

Go here to read an excerpt from the book, or learn where to buy your copy.

Three excerpts from Roll the Bones


Today I’ve added three excerpts from Roll the Bones to the site to give you a little flavor of the book if you haven’t picked up a copy already. Enjoy!

1. Author’s Note/Prologue

This is the introductory overview to the book, giving an idea of its scope—and the changes in the Casino Edition.

2. Why the Mob won Vegas

This excerpt, from chapter 10, “A Place in the Sun,” explains how the Mob carved out influence on the Las Vegas Strip in the 1950s and 1960s, and why it was so dominant.


3. The Rise of Atlantic City

The opening pages of chapter 12, “America’s Playground…Again” discuss the rebirth and rise to (brief) dominance of Atlantic City’s casinos in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

To learn where you can buy Roll the Bones: The History of Gambling, please visit here