8
Apr

Thoughts on the February numbers in Two Way Hard Three

In addition to the statistical reports I’ve written in my official capacity, I’ve got a few thoughts I’d like to share about what the numbers mean over on Two Way Hard Three:

Every month, Revenue Day is always a bit of a mixed blessing for me. It means a lot of fairly frenetic number crunching (at least by the standards of academia), but also a chance to share my thoughts on what’s happening in the gaming industry. I’ve been mulling over the numbers since about 6:45 this morning, and here’s where I’m at right now.

via Thoughts on the February NV gaming numbers | Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog | from ratevegas.com.

I’ve now spent about ten hours thinking, calculating, and writing about the February numbers. Glad the weekend’s almost here.

8
Apr

Vegas Box in Vegas Seven

I got an email a few weeks ago from Gena Marler, co-owner of the Vegas Box, asking me if I’d like to share news about her company on this blog. I thought it was an interesting idea, and I’m always in favor of giving start-ups some attention, so I decided to write a Green Felt Journal about it. It was published in yesterday’s Vegas Seven:

Although gaming revenues continue to sag, nongaming spending in Las Vegas is showing a slight rebound. Numbers recently released by the Las Vegas Visitors and Convention Authority show upticks in expenditures on food and drink, transportation, shopping and entertainment for 2010. The proprietors of The Vegas Box, a start-up geared toward frequent Vegas visitors, are hoping that now might be the time to start a business that capitalizes on people’s love for Vegas—and convenience.

via What Happens in Vegas Goes in The Vegas Box | Vegas Seven.

There was a thread on the VegasTripping board about this, too, with some skepticism. But I think it’s a service that might appeal to frequent Vegas travelers. I know when I visit relatives I like to have a stash of toiletries, etc, on hand, and I can see how it would be nice to have this when you visit Vegas, too.

So much of the Vegas casino news is dominated by the big operators that it’s nice to be able to focus on smaller-scale, but still interesting, stories.

8
Apr

Caught in the Crossfire in Vegas Seven

Everyone’s been talking about the “Dotty’s issue” here in Vegas, so I thought I’d focus on an aspect that hasn’t received as much press–the moratorium that was in effect from December to April on new taverns. Here’s my Vegas Seven article:

The debate over the “Dotty’s model” of a gaming tavern—an establishment with no kitchen, no beer on tap and an emphasis on slot machines—has divided the gaming community. Is Dotty’s owner Craig Etsey a clever entrepreneur, or a slot arcade operator who should be forced out of business?

via Caught in the Crossfire | Vegas Seven.

I got a little imaginative with the subheads for this one. For the second one, you’ve got imagine those crashing Townshend power chords to get the full impact.

On a serious note, I think that this one is headed to the courts. For the County Commission to put operations that have been licensed for 15 years out of business by fiat seems like the sort of thing that’s begging for judicial review.

5
Apr

Gaming evolving to web/mobile in LVBP

I’ve got a new piece up in the Las Vegas Business Press about how the current debate over legalizing online gaming in Nevada is really informed by the past development of gaming in relation to technology. But I don’t think it’s as boring as it sounds:

With the current debate over Assembly Bill 258, which would legalize online poker in Nevada, we’ve been hearing a great deal about how online is the future for gambling. But getting involved with online gambling really isn’t such a dramatic departure from the past. Gambling has always evolved. And, for the past 80 years, Nevada has evolved along with it.

via Las Vegas Business Press :: David G. Schwartz : Technology keeps pushing betting, now toward Web.

I really think it’s a question of when, not if Internet gaming is legalized. With our current economic and fiscal position, the phrase “there’s no time like the present” comes to mind.

31
Mar

Find DT’s hidden casino in Vegas Seven

Here’s a Vegas Seven story I had a lot of fun writing, about Downtown’s analog to the Cosmopolitan’s “hidden” pizzeria: a hidden casino:

By now, everyone’s heard about the Cosmopolitan’s secret pizzeria. There’s no sign, and it’s down a hallway decorated with LPs, but they do serve a tasty slice. Apparently, a lot of people have discovered something similar downtown—a “secret casino” with no hotel rooms, no entertainment, no restaurants, no loyalty program and no marketing offers.

via Open Secret | Vegas Seven.

I came up with the idea while I was interviewing people for the Loosening up Downtown story and noticed that, despite having significant barriers to entry, the Plaza’s casino was drawing players.

31
Mar

The Big Finish in Vegas Seven

It’s Thursday, so there’s a new Vegas Seven out. I’ve got two pieces in this one. Here’s the first, about betting on the Final Four:

March might be mad, but it’s also pretty lucrative for Las Vegas sports books. Most of the big casinos make betting on the NCAA men’s basketball tournament the centerpiece of a gambling vacation for the guys (and about 95 percent of them are guys—there’s still a heavy masculine slant to the party). The first extended weekend, in which 48 games are played over four days, is the busiest for most Nevada sports books. But Final Four weekend’s no slouch, either.

via The Big Finish | Vegas Seven.

Very frenetic stuff.

28
Mar

Riviera & North Strip’s plight in Two Way Hard Three

I’ve got a new piece up on Two Way Hard Three, about the Riviera’s recently-released annual report and what it says about the North Strip:

Riviera Holdings Corp, the company that owns the bankrupt Riviera casino hotel on the Las Vegas Strip, recently released its annual report. The company had a rough year, and a look at the financial reports from the last few years sheds some light on why the casino’s in such trouble, and why the Sahara is closing.

via Riviera financials show North Strip’s plight | Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog | from ratevegas.com.

The trend you’ll see in the chart I put together is certainly a disturbing one.

25
Mar

Pondering life after football in Vegas Seven

My final bit of writing for this week’s Vegas Seven is a Green Felt Journal column about the impact of a potential NFL work stoppage, exclusive of any lost gaming revenue. Here, I’m looking at how the locals would be impacted:

That a work stoppage will hurt the casinos of Las Vegas—particularly on the Strip—is hardly mysterious. Even though football betting doesn’t generate a ton of revenue for casinos (less than $26 million for the Strip in 2010 for both college and pro football), it’s an amenity that draws a relatively free-spending crowd. The casinos will be just as sad to see the sportsbook big screens tuned into bowling on Sunday as anyone.

via Tavern owners ponder life after football | Vegas Seven.

So this week you got about 3,000 words of mine to read in Vegas Seven, should you choose to do so. Add a few Two Way Hard Three pieces and the Las Vegas Business Press column, and that’s a respectable chunk of reading.

And I’m not taking the weekend off, so expect more next week. And the week after that. The sad thing is, if I had more time, I’d have even more to write about–there’s so much going on.

25
Mar

Vegas Mob Scrubbed Clean in Vegas Seven

A few weeks ago, I visited the Las Vegas Mob Experience at the Tropicana. I shared some of my thoughts here, and then thought about it some more. The result is a feature piece Vegas Seven magazine:

With fedora-wearing ticket-takers and an almost-Technicolor presentation, it’s clear that the Mob Experience isn’t a dry, academic colloquium on criminal justice. With costumed actors and sets straight off a Hollywood back lot, this is a haunted-house history of Las Vegas and the mob: Frightening ghosts of Mafiosi past glower at us, but there’s little danger that they’ll make us think as we pass through. It’s Fright Dome with wiseguys instead of wraiths.

So, like the billboards, the museum itself depicts the world in black and white, with blood-red added for effect. Perhaps it’s not the best approach for a city whose history is dominated by shades of gray

via Scrubbed Clean | Vegas Seven.

This was a hard essay to write. Certainly anyone trying to put together a museum or attraction about organized crime history that’s geared towards the general public has their work cut out for them. It’s a controversial area that, to put it mildly, was not well documented. It’s difficult, then, to put together something that’s as comprehensive as, say, a history of the Civil War, or even of the Union Pacific Railroad.

And I kind of had a good time interacting with the actors at the LVME. It’s just that boiling down the history of American organized crime to bootlegging and skimming from Vegas casinos doesn’t seem to do anyone justice. And claiming that “the Mob built Las Vegas” is a real disservice to all of the non-mobbed-up men and women who actually did build Las Vegas.

25
Mar

Sahara Vs. Trop in Vegas Seven

This week I’ve got three separate pieces in Vegas Seven. The first is a short news item comparing and contrasting two Strip casinos with similar origins and dissimilar fates:

The Tropicana and the Sahara are a study in contrasts despite some shared history; at opposite ends of the Strip, both holdovers from the 1950s managed to survive into the 21st century. Both drifted further and further down market as they faced larger and more luxurious competitors. And, as of today, they are facing profoundly different fates. One is closing, while the other has a new lease on life.

via A Tale of Two Casinos | Vegas Seven.

Why did they end up going in different directions? I’d say it’s equal parts decision-making and geography. Obviously, the Tropicana’s going to get much more walk-in action and attract more people who want to be around other casinos. The Sahara, as of today, is almost in a no-man’s-land. The decision making part is: the Sahara folks (SBE) wanted to go for a massive renovation project that would have aimed towards the luxury market, and missed the timing. Two years earlier, and they’d have gotten funding, no problem. The Tropicana, on the other hand, took a smaller approach, simply remodeling its rooms for the mid-market.