Archive for the writing Category

Crime and Perception | Vegas Seven

In today’s Green Felt Journal, I take on a subject that some in the industry don’t like discussing–whether high-profile crimes mean the Strip is less safe than it should be:

When tragedy strikes, police and tourism officials are usually quick to stress that these are random events in an otherwise safe city. They point to the fact that crime rates on the Strip have been falling lately down in 2012 and early 2013 as proof that a Vegas vacation is fundamentally safe. Is this just public relations spin, or do they have a point?

via Crime and Perception | Vegas Seven.

Some feel that the best move is to ignore crime on the Strip, and to downplay incidents that get public attention as random, unconnected acts. I disagree; I think that by being honest with visitors about crime, and by educating them about how to better protect themselves, the city will get a much better handle on its crime problem by getting out in front of it than by pretending it doesn’t exist.

The Other Convention Business | Vegas Seven

In today’s Green Felt Journal, I look at the growth of Las Vegas as a family reunion destination. It all really fits:

Family-friendly Las Vegas never went away—it just doesn’t get the same press as nightclub Las Vegas or tech-startup Las Vegas. For proof, look no further than the burgeoning business the city does in hosting family reunions.

via The Other Convention Business | Vegas Seven.

I wrote this after browsing the upcoming convention listings for the LVCVA and having my curiosity piqued by the number of family reunions listed there. It’s definitely a growing part of several casinos’ sales approaches.

Poker Pioneers | Vegas Seven

In today’s Green Felt Journal, I look at a few of the personalities behind Ultimate Poker:

Online poker seems so … unearthly. Hands are dealt on a glowing screen. Cards are made out of pixels, not pasteboard. And yet it’s here, and it’s very real.

For now, there’s one company that offers online poker in Nevada: Ultimate Gaming. It’s headquartered in an industrial strip mall on Harmon Avenue, a few blocks west of the Strip. And it’s filled with an interesting mix of about 60 administrators, techies, creative types, marketers and casino veterans.

via Poker Pioneers | Vegas Seven.

Ultimate Poker has a great story–I’m hoping to write more about them and their competitors, once other sites go live. Fascinating to see history unfold.

Smokeless on the Strip? | Vegas Seven

In this week’s Green Felt Journal, I tackle the issue of smoking in casinos on the Las Vegas Strip:

The implicit question raised in those cheeky billboards is this: Smoking is banned in restaurants, movie theaters and indoor arenas. Why is it still permitted in Nevada casinos? The short answer: because casinos were exempted from the Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act, which voters approved in November 2006.

via Smokeless on the Strip? | Vegas Seven.

Two things I want to mention here….

1. I love the art for this column.

2. This, I think, is the most divisive issue in the gaming industry today. Casino execs get very dismissive/defensive when the topic of banning smoking on casino floors comes up. Personally, while I respect the right of people to smoke, I also think that my right to be in a public place without breathing in smoke has to rank somewhere. Doesn’t it?

I’d like to see one of the two big companies experiment with making one of their casinos smoke-free. Let’s say, Monte Carlo for MGM Resorts and Planet Hollywood for Caesars. Give it a three-month trial run at the very least: see what it does to occupancy, gaming win, overall spending. Would it work? Revel would seem to indicate no, but Revel’s problems didn’t start with not permitting smoking on the casino floor. In other states, there has been an initial revenue drop followed by a recovery. While I’m sure some people would gamble less, other people may gamble more, and I suspect that traffic at restaurants might increase as well, with non-smokers not having to run a smoky gauntlet before getting to their eatery of choice.

GRANDISSIMO is coming

With Roll the Bones out now, I’ve dove back into GRANDISSIMO. In the past few weeks I’ve given the manuscript its hopefully final major edit and have started to flesh out GrandissimoBook.com.

You can now read Who is Jay Sarno to get a sense of the man GRANDISSIMO is about, and see the Cast of Characters.

My next step is to create a Kickstarter campaign to get the money I need for the last bit of work on the book—copy-editing, indexing, and marketing.

Hopefully by this October, you’ll be able to read GRANDISSIMO for yourself.

JFK in Las Vegas | Vegas Seven

In this week’s Vegas Seven, I’ve got the cover story: a look back on John F. Kennedy’s visits to Las Vegas:

It was a meeting for the ages: the midcentury King of Cool getting together with one of the nation’s fastest-rising political stars. The star of From Here to Eternity and the hero of PT 109. An idol of the pop charts and a Pulitzer Prize winner. And it could only have happened in Las Vegas, in that heady era when Frank Sinatra reigned from the stage of the Sands’ Copa Lounge and everyone, even presidential aspirants, wanted a front-row seat. On February 7, 1960, future President John F. Kennedy got one.

via JFK in Las Vegas | Vegas Seven.

I had to do some real digging for this one, and I’d like to thank Larry Gragg for his help in sharing his citations for articles about Kennedy. If you like, you can learn more about his book Bright Light City right here.

I’m also glad that I get a chance to do long-form pieces like this for Seven–it’s a good bridge between the bi-weekly Green Felt Journals and academic articles for me.

Pin Interest | Vegas Seven

In this week’s Green Felt Journal, I take up bowling, which seems to be heading towards a renaissance in Las Vegas.

Las Vegas’ first casino bowling alley opened in 1959 when the off-Strip Showboat added lanes as part of its successful effort to refocus on locals, driving growth at the property for the next 20 years.

Showboat’s success has made bowling a mainstay of locals casinos—so much so that the International Bowl Expo came to Paris Las Vegas this month it ends June 28. Yes, it’s ironic that the expo settled on a casino without a bowling alley, but the lanes have been the purview of locals casinos: Station has five bowling alleys in the Valley, with lanes at Red Rock, Sunset Station, Texas Station, Santa Fe Station and Wildfire Sunset.

via Pin Interest | Vegas Seven.

Researching this gave me a chance to learn a little about bowling. I really like that aspect of writing the Green Felt Journal: I get to learn quite a bit on a variety of subjects.

Casino Concentration and the Logic of Empire | Vegas Seven

For this week’s Green Felt Journal, I offer you an 800-word version of the 10,000-word paper I presented at the International Conference on Gambling and Risk-Taking. It’s my attempt to assess whether the mid-decade spate of mergers was good for anyone…and from what I’ve discovered, it looks like the answer is “not really.” From Vegas Seven:

For the Las Vegas casino industry, the past decade has been defined by two things: consolidation and disaster. From 2000 to 2008, Las Vegas Strip casino operators acquired each other until two companies—today they are known as MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment Corporation—controlled nearly two-thirds of the Strip corridor casino market. The following three years is where the disaster, in the form of the recession, comes in. The timing of the two makes it difficult to assess whether the mergers were good or bad, on the balance, for Las Vegas, but the evidence we have indicates that we would have been better off with less-concentrated ownership.

via Casino Concentration and the Logic of Empire | Vegas Seven.

There’s a lot of research behind my conclusions that didn’t make the Vegas Seven article, but if the article makes it into the conference proceedings, you might be able to read the whole thing.

Glad my suggested headline (complete with Heinlein reference) made it to print.

Investing in America | Vegas Seven

Busy week, so I’m just posting this week’s Green Felt Journal about the EB-5 program, which is changing Las Vegas:

“Invest In Your American Dream,” reads the text next to a photo of the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign. The words are quickly replaced by “LAS VEGAS EB5 IMMIGRATION CENTER IS YOUR BEST CHOICE,” with a view of the Strip at night, followed by “THE OPPORTUNITY TO OBTAIN U.S. GREEN CARD,” against a pastiche of a billowing American flag with extra stars, the Statue of Liberty and the Capitol building. Then, just to make the message clear, we get “THE OPPORTUNITY TO EXPERIENCE AMERICAN LIFESTYLE,” laid over a skyline that’s definitely not Las Vegas.

via Investing in America | Vegas Seven.

I learned a good deal researching this one…it will be interesting to see where the program goes in the next few years.

The History of Our Future | Vegas Seven

I’ve been wanting to write more about Macau, which is such a huge gambling story, for a while, and when given a feature slot for Vegas Seven, jumped on the chance to talk about Macau’s impact on Las Vegas. The result is this week’s cover story:

Back in the early days—2006 or so—American executives signing on for tours of duty in Macau felt like they were stepping into the Wild West. Street violence had subsided since the island’s 1999 reversion to mainland control, but there was still a sense that this was a frontier, a place where anything could happen. And when strangers rode into town—often from the former frontier town of Las Vegas—they went where strangers always go first: the saloon. In this case, that meant the Embassy Bar at what was then the Mandarin Oriental hotel. It was an admittedly upscale saloon, but for an expat executive it was an oasis, a free-port, a place to make crucial first connections and ease into Chinese life. It offered just enough reassuring familiarity, and just enough tantalizing strangeness.

via The History of Our Future | Vegas Seven.

At 4,000 words, this is a long magazine piece for me, but I think you’ll agree it packs a lot of story into those words. The great art really helps. I’m as proud of this as I am of anything I’ve written so far.