25
Aug

The Riv’s Quiet End – Vegas Seven

They blew up the last bits of the Riviera. I thought about it. I was sad. Then I thought about it some more. I was angry. Then I thought about it some more, and it made sense. I share some of that journey in my latest Green Felt Journal:

It’s a Vegas tradition, this sacrificing the past for a prospective future. Las Vegas is about today, not taxidermy. Even if the Riviera were still open today, it would be almost unrecognizable from the nine-story high-rise (the first in the state!) that Liberace opened back in 1955. Most of the Riviera’s physical plant dated from the 1970s or later. The iconic “No Ifs, Ands, or …” Crazy Girls sculpture dates from 1995.

Read more: The Riv’s Quiet End – Vegas Seven

The point I wanted to make was that it’s easy to just say we want to roll back the clock to happy, simpler days, but we need to ask ourselves, “Happier for who? Simpler for who?” I can’t find any easy answers.

 

25
Aug

My Thoughts on an ROH Weekend in Vegas Seven

I went to two ROH events last weekend. I had something to say about them for Vegas Seven. If you’re not a wrestling fan or don’t follow ROH, this might give you an idea of what you’re missing:

And this—the action in the ring—is where ROH really excels. The opening tilt, a four-corners survival match to determine the No. 1 contender for the ROH television title, is a good example. The match showed the best of what ROH has to offer: power moves, quick pacing, and high-flying acrobatics. It’s one thing to see Donovan Dijak, billed at 6 foot 7 inches and weighing in at 270 pounds, catch the diminutive Lio Rush mid-move and hurl him to the ground; it’s another to see the big man himself take to the air, diving out of the ring. That move was enough to garner the first “holy shit” chant of the night.

Read more: Ring of Honor’s Death Before Dishonor Didn’t Disappoint – Vegas Seven

I really can’t say enough about this. I actually could have written twice as much and still not covered everything. Hopefully I will write more about this is the future.

22
Aug

ROH Overview & Jay Lethal Interview – Vegas Seven

I had two pieces in Vegas Seven last week connected to Ring of Honor’s Las Vegas events. The first was an overview of Death Before Dishonor and the subsequent TV tapings:

A global pro wrestling organization, Ring of Honor focuses more on in-ring action than World Wrestling Entertainment, the established “sports entertainment” kingpin, and its events are smaller than WWE ones with more wrestler/fan interaction. Cheap seats at a WWE event such as the recent Money in the Bank pay-per-view will put you in the upper bowl, far from the action, while cheap seats at an ROH event are on the floor, just a few rows back from the ring. It’s the difference between seeing a band at T-Mobile Arena or Brooklyn Bowl; one of them is a spectacle, the other more of a happening.

Read more: A Smack Down at Sam’s Town – Vegas Seven

You’ll get a more in-depth look at wrestling in the one on one interview I did with Jay Lethal. Here’s an excerpt that I think is particularly poignant given the results of his PPV match:

I realized that I made it in the business after having a conversation with my dad years ago. This was before my Ric Flair match, actually. It was when an action figure of mine came out. And my dad, he said, “You know, you’re getting to live your dream, you’re getting paid to do it, you’re healthy, you’re happy where you are. If you stopped wrestling today, I mean, wouldn’t you feel accomplished?” … And he was absolutely right.

Read more: One on One With Ring of Honor Champ Jay Lethal

Was that Lethal’s final interview in his (first) run as ROH champ? I don’t know, but I am so glad that he took the time to talk with me. He’s got a great story.

 

4
Aug

A Look Back at Caesars Palace in Vegas Seven

In this week’s Vegas Seven, I’ve got a cover feature on the 50 years of Caesars Palace:

Caesars Palace has always been more than the sum of its parts. Yes, it’s just a place where people pay for rooms, eat dinner, watch shows and gamble. But there remains something compelling about the property. It may no longer be the highest-grossing on the Strip, and as of 2016 it still isn’t the oldest, but it might just be the most successful.

Read more : An Empire Like No Other – Vegas Seven

I also have two sidebars connected with the story:

Modern-Day Gladiators about fight nights at Caesars Palace.

The Birth of a Brand about how Caesars became a marketing juggernaut.

20
Jul

Hacks Pose Huge Threat to Casinos – Vegas Seven

In this week’s Vegas Seven, I take a look at how real a possibility a major casino hack might be, and what cybersecurity problems casinos face:

A recent Wendy’s hack exposed the credit card information of many of its customers. Coming on the heels of attacks on data ranging from infidelity dating site Ashley Madison to drug chain CVS to the U.S. government’s Office of Personnel Management, the Wendy’s breach is a reminder that our sensitive data isn’t as secure as we’d like it to be.  

Read more: Hacks Pose Huge Threat to Casinos – Vegas Seven

This is a potentially huge issue–casinos need to devote the resources to make sure it never becomes an issue.

15
Jul

Leviosa Con Proves Las Vegas Is Both Muggle- and Wizard-Friendly – Vegas Seven

I’m continually impressed by the range of meetings that happen in Las Vegas. Here is my write-up of one that happened last week at Green Valley Ranch:

It might be the wand that chooses the wizard, but it’s the Harry Potter enthusiast that chooses where she wants to share her fandom. Henderson’s Green Valley Ranch Resort was the gathering place July 7-10 for more than 700 enthusiasts of J.K. Rowling’s acclaimed literary series, its stage and film adaptations and the world of fan creations that it has inspired.

Read more: Leviosa Con Proves Las Vegas Is Both Muggle- and Wizard-Friendly – Vegas Seven

Like most of the stuff I do, this was fun to write–the convention was great.

9
Jul

The Artisan Craft Festival Is a Perk for Real People – Vegas Seven

In this week’s Green Felt Journal, I take a look at a lower-profile casino perk, and the local group of entrepreneurs that it benefits:

Smaller-time gamblers play for smaller perks: T-shirts, six packs of soda, even meat thermometers. So it’s not surprising to get a Boyd Gaming promotion offering the chance to redeem B Connected players card points at the Artisan Craft Festival. It’s not the kind of perk you’d expect from cinematic Las Vegas, but it’s perfectly in tune with the reality of who actually visits local casinos.

Read more: The Artisan Craft Festival Is a Perk for Real People – Vegas Seven

I wanted to show a little slice of Las Vegas gambling that isn’t always captured or appreciated in the news: what casinos are like for the vast majority of gamblers. I also wanted to show how local groups like the Artisan Craft Festival mesh with casinos. One of the things about Las Vegas that might surprise non-locals is just how important locals casinos are as meeting spaces. For example, the Nevada PTA held their awards ceremony this year at Texas Station. That might seem very unusual to someone from somewhere else, but in Las Vegas it’s just everyday life. Casinos have the space at reasonable rates, so people use it.

23
Jun

Caesars’ Room Art Gives Guests Something to Gawk At – Vegas Seven

Reading the VegasTripping review of the new Julius Tower rooms, I was struck by the art. So I wrote my latest Green Felt Journal about it:

Usually, hotel room art at best presents a regional accent; at worst, it says nothing and moves no one. For the creatives at KNA Design, the distinctly Caesars touch was essential.

Read more: Caesars’ Room Art Gives Guests Something to Gawk At – Vegas Seven

This was a lot of fun to write. It’s fascinating to learn how much thought goes into room design.

15
Jun

Money in the Bank & Big E in Vegas Seven

I’ve got two pieces in this week’s Vegas Seven about the upcoming Money in the Bank pay per view at T-Mobile Arena. This first is a look at the event itself:

Oh, Las Vegas, don’t you dare be sour … come to the T-Mobile Arena and feel the power.

For the first time in eight years, the WWE is bringing one of its sports entertainment spectaculars to town when its Money in the Bank pay-per-view headlines the new arena June 19.

Read more: T-Mobile Banking on Big Entertainment With WWE

The second is an interview with the New Day’s Big E:

The New Day’s Big E, who will help defend the trio’s tag team belts in a Fatal 4-Way match, will be a big (pun slightly intended) part of the action. Here he shares his thoughts on the match itself, competing in Las Vegas, what the fans don’t appreciate (yet) and much more, including unicorns and a time machine.

Read more: One on One With WWE Superstar Big E

The WWE media folks were very helpful in connecting me with Big E on a tight deadline, and it was fun to get to write about this.  I’m really looking forward to all of the matches but now I’m particularly excited for the Fatal 4-Way.

9
Jun

How Seasonal Are Gaming and Tourism? – Vegas Seven

In this week’s Green Felt Journal, I take a look at seasonality in Las Vegas:

How seasonal are gaming and tourism in Las Vegas? My hometown, Atlantic City, had a well-defined busy season: Memorial Day to just after Labor Day (the Miss America Pageant was created to extend the summer an extra week). Vegas has its fluctuations, too, but they are harder to characterize. 

Read more: How Seasonal Are Gaming and Tourism? – Vegas Seven

This started with me just wondering how seasonal the business is; I know I’d looked at it before but hadn’t bothered the write it down. So now I’ve got some spreadsheets and some graphs that didn’t make it into print. Like so many other things I look at, there is no  easy answer.