Archive for the writing Category

Burton Cohen: The Man You Wanted Running Your Hotel | Vegas Seven

Here is this week’s Green Felt Journal, a tribute (in mostly his own words) to Burton Cohen:

Cohen grew up in the hotel business in Florida, and his 16 years of practicing law made him a perfect chief executive, able to read contracts and grasp their subtleties but also aware of operational realities on the front lines. In a 2009 interview with Claytee White, the director of UNLV’s Oral History Research Center, Cohen sketched out his life in Las Vegas, starting with the changes under way when he arrived in Las Vegas. The mob was on its way out, and big money was on its way in.

via Burton Cohen: The Man You Wanted Running Your Hotel | Vegas Seven.

Cohen had a huge impact on Las Vegas, and I wanted to show how that impact was most keenly felt by the men and women he worked with.

MGM’s Park and the Future of the Strip | Vegas Seven

In my latest Green Felt Journal, I riff on remarks MGM chairman Jim Murren made about his company’s Park development and the future of the Strip by imagining what the Strip will look like in 2019:

An interesting way to ponder the Strip’s trajectory is to follow Murren’s lead, play the long game, and imagine what it will look like in 2019. Here’s a glimpse:

via MGM’s Park and the Future of the Strip | Vegas Seven.

What I find fascinating is that the “new” projects of the moment–SLS and Cromwell–will be as established as Aria by that time.

I didn’t have a ton of room, and there is plenty more to think about. Which properties will get renovated? Which will get retail/dining/entertainment exterior makeovers? And what is going to happen to Fontainebleau and the New Frontier site?

Talking how the Mirage came to be on 97.1

Last Thursday, I did a quick interview with Lorrin Bond of 97.1 about my Vegas Seven cover story on The Mirage’s design and construction. You can listen to it here if you like:

David G. Schwartz talks about how the Mirage came to be by Vegas Seven on SoundCloud – Hear the world’s sounds.

Fun talking with Lorrin about the article!

The Conjuring of The Mirage in Vegas Seven

One of my favorite things about writing for Vegas Seven is the chance to write extended feature pieces that give me a chance to do original research and learn a great deal about Las Vegas, present and past.

In this week’s issue, I take a look back at the event which, 25 years ago, changed the direction of Las Vegas–the construction and opening of The Mirage. It starts in 1985, when Joel Bergman gets a summons from Steve Wynn:

At about 2 a.m., Bergman—who led Atlandia, the Nugget’s in-house design firm—finally arrived at the right condo in an under-construction country club subdivision. Wynn was still up when he got there, waiting for him.

“Joel,” Wynn said, “Let me tell you about the wonderful place we’re going to build in Las Vegas.”

via The Conjuring of The Mirage | Vegas Seven.

I used many sources for this feature, but the best was a series of five interviews with Joel Bergman, Arte Nathan, Bobby Baldwin, Alan Feldman, and Steve Wynn, with an assist from DeRuyter Butler.

Two things really stand out to me: first, 5,000 words isn’t enough to tell the whole story, and second, the building of The Mirage really was a special moment in Las Vegas. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it.

The Coming Social Gaming Revolution | Vegas Seven

In this week’s Green Felt Journal, I take a look at what changes might be afoot on casino floors across the country:

Since the recession, however, slot machines have lost ground to tables. Last year, tables statewide earned 35 percent of total gaming win. That doesn’t sound like a big shift—5 percentage points over just as many years—but the original shift in dominance from tables to slot machines was just as gradual.

via The Coming Social Gaming Revolution | Vegas Seven.

The point I wanted to make here is that we can’t assume that casinos ten years for now are going to look exactly like casinos today. It’s been a little more than a decade since widespread adoption of ticket in/ticket out and multi-denom machines changed slot gaming. I think that Dr. Andrade’s work raises all sorts of interesting questions about how people are going to play in the future.

The Online Gaming Debate: Not So Fast, Congress | Vegas Seven

In this week’s Green Felt Journal, I propose a possible solution to the current schism between pro- and anti-online gaming forces in Congress (and the gaming industry):

With both sides ratcheting up their lobbying, though, it seems that Congress is painting itself into a corner without a way forward or compromise that will satisfy everyone.

But maybe there is.

via The Online Gaming Debate: Not So Fast, Congress | Vegas Seven.

I think this column could have been a few thousand words if I had the print space available (I don’t). The more I think about it, the more sensible another national look at gambling’s impact seems.

What’s more, this study could also include credit play (and collection of credit) which is another issue currently in the news thanks to FinCEN’s proposal to force casino to vet the sources of high rollers’ funds. (For more about FinCEN, see my previous Green Felt Journal.)

The nature of gambling in the United States has changed remarkably since National Gambling Impact Study wrapped up in 1999. Online gaming is the most obvious difference, but the shift in where Las Vegas casinos make their money (increasingly, it’s international high rollers) is another change that has profound implications.

Everyone debating the nature of gambling today has something to gain from an in-depth study. With no clear direction presenting itself to Congress and a crying need for solid information, a new national study commission makes perfect sense.

Needs of High Rollers, Government Leave Casinos in a Bind | Vegas Seven

In this week’s Green Felt Journal, I take a look at FinCEN, the federal bureau that, I think is going to make a big impact on Las Vegas in the near future:

Would-be high-rollers, take note: If you ever have a transaction of more than $10,000 at a casino, the staff there will gather information from you and file a report with the federal Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. You probably haven’t heard of FinCEN, but it’s a major player in our city’s biggest industry.

via Needs of High Rollers, Government Leave Casinos in a Bind | Vegas Seven.

As I suggest in the article, the tension between federal reporting guidelines and traditional credit practices has the potential to become a huge issue for Las Vegas.

New Lower Price for Roll the Bones ebook

In a little experiment on price sensitivity in the ebook format, I’ve decided to slash the price of the e-version of Roll the Bones: The History of Gambling by nearly 20%. The list price for all versions of the RTB ebook is now $7.99. You can learn more or buy it at your favorite ebook retailer:

Caesars’ Changing Empire | Vegas Seven

Here is my latest in Vegas Seven, about two Caesars transactions that, I think, augur the future:

It’s no secret that both online and social gaming are growing; millions of people play “for free” each day, and at least 10 states—including California and Texas—are mulling the legalization of straight-up online gambling. The two transactions show the evolution of the way Americans play—and the way Las Vegas-based gaming companies make money.

via Caesars’ Changing Empire | Vegas Seven.

Once, the industry’s growth was in geographic expansion in the U.S. Now it seems that expansion online–in both money games and social–is the real growth segment–for now, at least.

What Does Bitcoin’s Downtown Presence Say About Las Vegas—and the Future? | Vegas Seven

When Derek Stevens started accepting Bitcoin at The D and Golden Gate, I became curious: How did he make the decision to do this, and why? The result of my curiosity is this week’s Green Felt Journal:

Sometimes a story about newfangled technology doubles as one about old-fashioned neighborhood gumption. When The D and the Golden Gate became the first casinos to accept Bitcoin albeit only for non-gaming purchases it was a sign of the way Downtown Las Vegas, by dint of geography and necessity, is pushing the boundaries of innovation in the casino business.

via What Does Bitcoin’s Downtown Presence Say About Las Vegas—and the Future? | Vegas Seven.

Since the gaming industry handles so much money, any alternate form of payment should be of interest. We will have to see how Bitcoin develops.