Archive for the writing Category

Liz Butler’s story in Vegas Seven

It’s another Thursday, which means another Green Felt Journal in Vegas Seven. This one is about a remarkable woman who works at the El Cortez, Liz Butler:

If you want a lesson in Las Vegas history, you don’t have to go much farther than Liz Butler, who’s still serving drinks at the El Cortez. With an accent and attitude that betrays her East Coast roots, she’s been a fixture at the El Cortez for nearly four decades, and she doesn’t show any sign of leaving.

via Four decades at the El Cortez | Vegas Seven.

This was my favorite story to write in the past few months. I really liked talking with Liz, and I hope that I could communicate some of her personality through the story. She’s really interesting, and has that total New Yorker attitude, in a good way.

Alfred Heston in Casino Connection

This month in Casino Connection, I take a look back at one of Atlantic City’s most honest public officials, and its first noteworthy historian, Alfred Heston:

Atlantic City has seen generations of public officials and interested citizens, but few residents have left a legacy as monumental as Alfred Miller Heston, a newspaper publisher, historian and city official.

via Making History: Atlantic City’s Alfred Heston | Casino Connection Atlantic City.

This was a fun one to write. Heston was a truly unique Atlantic City character, and his name lives on in the Heston Collection at the Atlantic City Free Public Library.

Response to another lame take on Vegas

What is it about Las Vegas that brings out the worst in some writers? The latest victim shares his thoughts on Las Vegas in Smithsonian Magazine, though I cant imagine why an editor would solicit this kind of superficial “analysis,” much less publish it:

I knew, going in, that I’d feel out of place. The glitz, the kitsch, the acid-trip architecture—Vegas isn’t me. I’m more a Vermont guy. I’ve never actually lived in Vermont, but that doesn’t keep me from thinking of myself as a Vermont guy. Writing a book, however, greatly increased my sense of alienation. Vegas doesn’t want you writing any more than it wants you reading. You can sit by the topless pool at the Wynn all day long, all year long, and you won’t see anyone crack open anything more challenging than a cold beer.And it’s not just books. Vegas discourages everything prized by book people, like silence and reason and linear thinking. Vegas is about noise, impulse, chaos. You like books? Go back to Boston.

via Las Vegas: An American Paradox | Travel | Smithsonian Magazine.

It’s probably 1,500 words long, but it feels much longer thanks to the 5 click-throughs you need to do, and the absolutely vapid writing.

Great, J.R., you saw some T&A, and you had a two-minute conversation with some lady in a restaurant. That doesn’t mean you’ve plumbed the soul of America, or even understand Las Vegas at all.

It’s easy to be contemptuous of other people having a good time–the Puritans elevated it to an art form a few centuries ago. But that says more about the writer than the subject, doesn’t it?

On one hand, everyone’s entitled to their opinion. Moehringer spent two years and didn’t have a good time. I get that. But it’s hard not to take what he says personally. I like books, and I live in Vegas. I don’t see any disconnect between the two. And anyone who divides the world between “book people” and the hoi polloi is so ineffably pretentious that…I can’t describe it. But you get the point—really, really pretentious.

That being said, I’ll just mention a few things that I think are really off base in the article. For example, IMHO linear thinking is of definite but limited value. I prefer diagonal thinking–it’s much less limiting.

There are lots of places for silence in Las Vegas. Try Turtlehead Peak, for one: an hour’s hike, and you can look down on the entire valley. It’s beautiful. Or just pick a corner of Sunset Park, or any of the other public parks that dot the valley.

He’s simply wrong that Vegas doesn’t want you writing books. I’ve had no problem writing three books in Las Vegas, and I’m working on the fourth. And as someone who writes a minimum of 5,000 words a month (Vegas Seven, Las Vegas Business Press, Casino Connection, I’m looking at you), I’ve never had a problem finding inspiration or space to write. But I tend not to overthink things, and it’s more a question of, “How many words? When do you want it?” than absorbing writerly inspiration via osmosis or whatever Moehringer does in Fantasy Vermont with all of the book people.

Look, I’m the last person to be a Vegas booster, saying this is the best of all possible cities. It’s just not in my temperament. But I wouldn’t blame any of my shortcomings as a writer on the city. A good craftsman doesn’t blame his tools, or the setting of his workshop. And, like Moehringer, I’m an award-winning author. So there.

HRH, HRC thoughts in the LVBP

A while ago, I got a Twitter request for my thoughts on the Hard Rock lawsuit. Here they are, in the digital pages of the Las Vegas Business Press:

There are several issues here. First is whether the “drunken debauchery” that the HRC folks accuse the HRH of allowing to take place somehow diminishes the goodwill that Hard Rock has built up among customers since the first Hard Rock Café opened in 1971.

via Las Vegas Business Press :: David G. Schwartz : Hard Rock Caf�© lawsuit reveals great LV paradox.

I never thought I’d write an article that hit on Jim Morisson’s crotch, Jersey Shore and drunken debauchery. I’m showing some range, at the very least.

Football’s local impact in Vegas Seven, and an award

It’s Green Felt Journal time again. This week, I talk about the impact of football on Las Vegas in Vegas Seven:

Even though Las Vegas doesn’t have an NFL team, football is a popular pastime in the city, and one that has a huge economic impact on the area.Yes, there are the Locomotives of the United Football League and the UNLV Rebels, but football’s real impact here isn’t felt on the field or in the stands—it’s in the sports books and bars of the Valley.

via Even with no NFL team, Vegas scores big during football season | Vegas Seven.

I decided to write this after I did a little poking around to check on some of the claims of “economic impact of a new arena” proponents. Even without a team, it’s clear that football generates a lot of economic activity in the area.

This is also as good a time as any to announce that I’m now officially an award-winning columnist. The Nevada Press Association has honored me with second place in the “Best Local Non-staff Column” category. Here’s the description:

2. David G. Schwartz, Vegas Seven
“Schwartz’s column is everything you’d expect a column on the gaming industry not to be — accessible, well-sourced, pertinent and insightful. ‘Real baccarat players like their privacy.’”

I still can’t figure out whether that’s a back-handed complement or not, but I’ll take it.

Congratulations also to Vegas Seven stablemate Michael Green, who beat me out for the top spot in the category.

And fellow gaming writer David McKee took home not one, but two awards for his work for another Las Vegas weekly paper.

You can read about all of the award-winners here.

Lucky 13 for Roll the Bones

Roll the Bones has made another list…’s list of the top 50 gambling books of all time. At #13, it’s near enough the top to be respectable:

In Roll the Bones, David Schwartz has compiled one of the most thorough historical accounts of gambling available. Schwartz manages to include gambling’s development in different areas of the world including Native America, China, Western Europe and the U.S. Events are set out in chronological order, which makes the book very easy to read, and all forms of gambling are covered. Towards the later stages of the book, the author moves to more modern issues and offers some enlightening discussions about gambling’s importance and place in society. Also of note is the thought-provoking musings about the future of gambling and how it might change. All in all, Roll the Bones is strongly recommended to anyone interested in the history of any form of gambling, or even anyone just looking for a good read.

via Top 50 Gambling Books of All Time –

It’s nice to get some recognition…the is the second list like this the book has made in the past few weeks, coming on the heels of Joe Mazur’s “Top Five Gambling Books” list at the Wall Street Journal.

So it’s not just me telling you that if you want to read a good book about gambling history, you should give Roll the Bones a try.

Countdown to the Cosmo in V7

It’s Thursday, so my long-awaited piece on Cosmo, 90 days out, is out in Vegas Seven:

It hasn’t been easy for the Cosmopolitan. When ground was broken in October 2005, it was one of a crop of planned casinos that were going to re-make Las Vegas. The Palazzo, Encore and Aria opened, but Boyd Gaming pulled the plug on Echelon in 2008, and the Fontainebleau’s post-bankruptcy owner, Carl Icahn, has no announced plans to resume construction on the partially built casino.Then there’s the Cosmopolitan. After the project’s original owners defaulted on a Deutsche Bank loan, the bank bought the hotel and decided to finish construction and run the casino itself, via its own management team.

via Countdown to the Cosmo | Vegas Seven.

I’ll give the folks at Cosmo credit for making the best of a bad situation and bringing something new to town. Whether that’s going to be enough to make the casino a success naturally remains to be seen but I think they’ve got as good a shot as anyone.

As I briefly mentioned on Two Way Hard Three, I think their current airport billboard ads leave something to be desired, but the casino seems to be making an effort to establish a real identity for itself in a way that I haven’t seen before. Usually, it’s just, “We’re the newest and the best!” or, “I’m Steve Wynn, and this is my new casino.” You didn’t really need to do much else to guarantee plenty of traffic for the first year or so.

In the current environment, however, it’s a different story. Aria, which was also pitched as the “Vegas for people who don’t currently go to Vegas” hasn’t, as yet, succeeded in drawing large numbers of people who wouldn’t otherwise come to town. Can Cosmo do it, or just be different enough to get a few hundred people a week to take a gamble on a Vegas trip? Or to convince people with deep attachments to (and accumulated points at) other properties to give it a try? It’s certainly possible.

I really look forward to getting a look inside the property and doing a sit-down interview with John Unwin sometime in the next few weeks.

Wire Act article in GLRE

I’ve got a new article in the latest issue of Gaming Law Review and Economics, about the Wire Act:

For a Camelot-era piece of legislation, the Wire Act has a long and unintended shadow. Used haltingly in the 1960s, when the Wire Act failed to deliver the death blow to organized crime, 1970’s Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) became a far better weapon against the mob. Yet starting in the 1990s, the Wire Act enjoyed a second life, when the Justice Department used to it prosecute operators on online betting websites that, headquartered in jurisdictions where such businesses were legal, took bets from American citizens. The legislative history and early applications of the Wire Act, however, suggest that it was intended for much more selective application, and the uses of the Act to penalize those who provide cross-border betting services to Americans, while perhaps faithful to the broad letter of the Act, are a departure from its spirit.

Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. – Gaming Law Review and Economics – 147:533.

If you don’t have access to the journal online (i.e., you’re logging in from a school that subscribes), you’ll only be able to read the first page. For the whole story, either subscribe or check out my book-length discussion of the Wire Act, Cutting the Wire.

Tots in lots in Vegas Seven

Is it Thursday already? Then I’ve got something for you to read from Vegas Seven. This week, I talk about people leaving their kids in casino parking lots, which has reached crisis proportions in Pennsylvania:

Take, for example, the recent flap in Bensalem, Pa. A whopping seven times this summer, parents or grandparents left minors unattended in cars at the aptly named Parx casino north of Philadelphia. A public outcry ensued, with legislation that would make leaving a child unattended in a car a third-degree felony proposed to provide a disincentive for this behavior

via Making sure the kids are all right | Vegas Seven.

I like the headline.

And everyone who I talked to agreed, it’s a really bad idea to leave your children unattended in a casino parking lot. Or any parking lot, for that matter.

G2E on the move in V7

It’s a busy week, but I still had time for a Vegas Seven column about G2E moving:

Over the course of a week, Las Vegas hosts conventions and trade expos for industries from baking to sheet metal. So it’s not surprising that the world’s premier casino industry trade show, the Global Gaming Expo, is held here each fall. A recently announced change of venue for the convention highlights the important role the meeting plays in the national casino landscape.

via Gaming show finds a new home | Vegas Seven.

It’s a huge show, and I agree that the move will reinvigorate it. For now I’m going to enjoy G2E’s swansong at the LV Convention Center. Look for me to cover this in greater depth as we get there. I’m planning to pick out one, and perhaps two, stories to focus on, which will trade clarity on a single subject for a more comprehensive view. I figure that since the dailies will be doing the big picture stories, I can use my column to zero in on a single subject that might otherwise be neglected.