Archive for the Vegas Seven Category

Music to Your Ears in Vegas Seven

This is probably the last literary spinoff from G2E: a piece in today’s Vegas Seven about the man behind the music in many Las Vegas casinos:

Here’s the funny thing about music in public places: If it’s working the way it should, you don’t even notice it on a conscious level. There’s just an extra spring in your step or, if you’re in a casino, pep in your poke as you hit the “bet again” button on your favorite slot machine. It’s the backbeat to your night out, or day at the spa, pushing you along without getting in your face. And that’s exactly how it’s supposed to be.

via Music to Your Ears | Vegas Seven.

I’ve been interested in the art and science of casino music programming for a while now, so it was great to be able to talk to Allen Klevens and learn all about how it’s done.

You really notice when it’s done wrong. I remember walking through MGM a while back when “Gold Dust Woman” by Fleetwood Mac came on. It was a bit disquieting, because that’s the kind of song that makes you think, “what am I doing with my life and what am I doing here?” rather than “let’s party!”

And I liked getting the peek behind the curtain, with Klevens revealing the three top tracks for casinos and three that won’t work. I’ve been listening to Brian Eno’s “This” a lot since then–but not in a casino.

Signs of the (Disappearing) Times in Vegas Seven

In this week’s Vegas Seven, I have a Latest Thought about a Downtown preservation effort that, I think, says a lot about what the city is becoming:

Which is why it’s interesting to see what new arrivals to Las Vegas notice the most. Slots in convenience stores? Franchise pawnshops? Tap water that’s somewhere north of 11 on the Mohs’ scale?

For Bryan McCormick and Mark Johnson, something different stood out: the hand-painted signs found on many downtown businesses.

Those signs—created by prolific but mostly anonymous painters strictly as works for hire—have a certain homey charm. Sometimes mid-century modern, sometimes Western colloquial, they are authentically Vegas. And, McCormick and Johnson discovered after seeing a few signs whitewashed over, they were in danger of disappearing.

via Signs of the (Disappearing) Times | Vegas Seven.

What I find interesting is the contrast between this effort and a project I was involved with ten years ago, the Neon Survey. Funded by Nevada Humanities and carried out in partnership with the Neon Museum, this project was, as I look back on it, very traditional: we reached out to a funding body, but together a proposal, and carried the project out with minimal community involvement.  By contrast, Vegas Vernacular is crowd-sourced, open source, and is drawing on the community in a totally different way.

The Experience of Fremont in Vegas Seven

In this week’s Green Felt Journal, I take a look at the origin of the Fremont Street Experience:

Fremont Street and the downtown casinos might be on the verge of a renaissance. Several casinos have reinvented themselves with renovations and expansions that try to blend nostalgia, modern comforts and value. But this isn’t the first time downtown has reinvented itself. In the 1950s, it tried emulating the Strip by replacing its rough-hewn gambling halls with hotel-casinos. More recently, in 1995, the Fremont Street Experience transformed downtown; in many ways, the casino district is only now growing into that change

via The Experience of Fremont | Vegas Seven.

I got the idea for this column while interviewing Mark Brandenburg, who was the junior partner at the Downtown roundtable I describe. You can listen to the original UNLV Gaming Podcast here.

Poker’s Perilous Perch in Vegas Seven

In this week’s Green Felt Journal, I take a look at where poker stands in September 2012. On one hand, live poker’s been on the decline for a few years. On the other, online poker is, some feel, going to transform the state’s economy. Here’s where we are:

Nevada poker is in an odd place. On one hand, poker room revenues have declined by 21 percent since 2007, and several casinos have downsized or closed their poker rooms, including the Tropicana on Sept. 11 . On the other hand, some are counting on online poker to revitalize Nevada’s gaming industry. As summer slides into fall and we get ready for online poker to go live next month, where is poker in the Silver State heading?

via Poker’s Perilous Perch | Vegas Seven

.I have a feeling that this is a column that, a few years from now, I’ll look back on and say, “If only you knew….”

In other words, I have a feeling that things are going to be changing in a big way, and it’s difficult to see exactly how the chips are going to fall.

South Point Puts It On (the) Line in Vegas Seven

When I heard that South Point Poker,, LLC, had been awarded the first license as an online poker provider in Nevada, I was immediately curious about the company: who were the people making this historic step? Everyone knows Michael Gaughan, but I had a feeling he wasn’t coding the site in his spare time. So I talked to SPP COO Lawrence Vaughan, and the result was this week’s Green Felt Journal:

On Aug. 23, the Nevada Gaming Commission approved the South Point’s application to run a legal online poker room—the first Nevada casino to be granted such a license. We are on the cusp of writing history. So what’s really going on with the operation, which will probably start accepting real money bets on poker before Halloween?

via South Point Puts It On (the) Line | Vegas Seven.

This really is historic. I know that word’s thrown around too much in Las Vegas sometimes, but Vaughan and company are doing something that’s never been done before (in Nevada).

And I resisted rhyming or otherwise getting cute with “Gaughan” and “Vaughan.”

Name Games in Vegas Seven

This week, I’ve got a “Latest Thought” in Vegas Seven where I finally weigh in on whether we should rename McCarran International Airport. I say, why stop there?

There’s been plenty of talk this summer of renaming McCarran International Airport. At first, it seemed like a lot of talk from people who hadn’t thought much before talking: A name change would be neither cheap nor easy, and this isn’t exactly a time when the public coffers are overflowing. But with Sen. Harry Reid recently declaring that he thinks a name change is in order, this is clearly a subject that needs further discussion.

via Name Games | Vegas Seven.

I’m glad I got the chance to have a little fun with this one. It’s certainly not at the top of the list of ideas I’d want to hear about how to keep Las Vegas relevant in post-recession America.

Atlantic City’s Last Great Hope? in Vegas Seven

I’ve got something besides today’s Green Felt Journal in today’s Vegas Seven: a look at Revel, Atlantic City’s latest casino:

Revel, Atlantic City’s first new casino in nearly a decade, has been called “Cosmopolitan East,” for its similarities, real and supposed to the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. Like the Cosmo, it’s put a great deal of emphasis on its non-gaming amenities, and, like the Cosmo, it’s struggled on the casino floor. In June, Revel’s win per slot per day—a valuable metric of casino performance—was the lowest in the city.

via Atlantic City’s Last Great Hope? | Vegas Seven.

This week’s news about Revel seeking more credit only underlines the point that the casino is underperforming.

The End of Empire-Building? in Vegas Seven

In today’s Green Felt Journal, I take a look at what the more restrained growth of the gaming industry will mean for Las Vegas:

The American gaming scene is changing. Call it maturation, or an adaptation to the post-recession, long-recovery economy, but the industry is shifting. For the past generation, expansion has been the rule, not the exception. That’s not the case anymore, and Las Vegas will have to adjust to a new paradigm.

via The End of Empire-Building? | Vegas Seven.

I think it’ll take some time for the paradigm shift (I don’t enjoy throwing that phrase around, but it seems apt here) to take root; a lot of the city still hasn’t adjusted to losing its “Number One Gaming Destination in the World” crown to Macau five years ago.

My Boardwalk Homecoming in Vegas Seven

I’ve got a very special Green Felt Journal out in today’s Vegas Seven. No, it’s not like a “very special episode” of Diff’rent Strokes or The Fact of Life that’s going to pontificate on a current social issue. Instead, I’m talking about the usual stuff I talk about in that space–gambling, casinos, and tourism–but in a much more personal way than I usually do. Here’s a snippet:

The Atlantic City I left was on the other side of history: a city left for dead, one that maybe, someday, might come back. Like Las Vegas, it blew up its past; some of my earliest memories were the implosions of the grand Boardwalk hotels. But this wasn’t replacing the Dunes with Bellagio. Old Atlantic City—the Traymore, the Marlborough-Blenheim, Million Dollar Pier—hadn’t been improved upon; gold had been replaced with concrete and red neon, when anything was built at all. Unlike Las Vegas, you never could shake the sense that you were one or two generations from the golden age.

via A Boardwalk Homecoming | Vegas Seven.

I usually don’t get that autobiographical, because there’s usually not that much of a need for me to put myself into the story. After all, it’s usually pretty straight-forward stuff–a personality profile, a sketch of a current issue–that calls for, at most, some editorial comment, but not much personal reflection.

So this is a different kind of writing for me, but for this story, it’s a path that I had to take. If it succeeds, it’s largely due to the unstinting support and fantastic sounding board of my editor, Greg Blake Miller.

On a more (literally) pedestrian note, I’ve also got some thoughts on Revel over on Two Way Hard Three. I liked the place, quite a bit, but there were a few things that left me scratching my head.

Debt Matters in Vegas Seven

This week in the Green Felt Journal I wanted to revisit an issue that continue to be relevant: casino debt loads”

It’s the dark matter of the Las Vegas casino business: there, but not readily apparent to the naked eye. You can spy reflections of it in deferred maintenance and longer check-in lines on the Strip. It’s casino debt, and it could remake the Strip over the several next years. Or not.

via Debt Matters | Vegas Seven.

I also have a web extra–some thoughts from Applied Analysis principal Jeremy Aguero on what’s happened on to the Strip’s mountain of debt. You can read it here.