Archive for the Vegas Seven Category

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.

Time Travel on Fremont Street in Vegas Seven

My next Vegas Seven contribution is a short piece about the strange mixing of the past and present that’s coming to define Downtown Las Vegas:

Downtown continues to mine a balanced—and, so far, successful—strategy of mixing Old Vegas nostalgia with modernized amenities. Nowhere is the Janus-faced approach that’s come to define downtown as apparent as at The D. The most obvious example is the split-level casino, which looks to the present on the first floor and the past on the second.

via Time Travel on Fremont Street | Vegas Seven.

I expect to be writing more about this theme. Downtown seems to be pulling in two separate directions–retro casino value and dot com hub. I look forward to writing more about those tensions define the area.

Vegas in the Gonzo Mirror in Vegas Seven

Today’s a big day for me in Vegas Seven. I’ve got four different pieces in the magazine. Let’s start with the cover, which is some VT-inspired musings on Hunter S. Thompson, influence on Vegas literati:

July 18 would have been Hunter S. Thompson’s 75th birthday. His name is linked with Las Vegas; more specifically, with fear and loathing in it.

The story of his pathbreaking book is about as straightforward as you would expect. Thompson drove up to Las Vegas in March 1970 to cover the Mint 400 off-road race for Sports Illustrated. In place of captions for a photo spread, he delivered a rambling semi-fictional account that ultimately grew into the novel Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream. The book is a hallmark of gonzo journalism—the gleeful abandonment of objectivity for a disturbingly personal stream-of-consciousness narrative, peppered with tales of recreational drug use and abuse and politico-cultural pronouncements.

via Vegas in the Gonzo Mirror | Vegas Seven.

Instead of looking at Thompson biographically, or my own thoughts on his writing, I figured I’d look at how he looked at Las Vegas, and how that’s shaped how other writers have looked at it.

The whole idea to write the piece came from Charles S. Monster of VegasTripping, so consider it a response to the several posts on Dr. Gonzo over there.

Double Double Action in Vegas Seven

Today, I can offer you a double-shot of prose pieces featuring a game called Double Action Roulette. First, this week’s Green Felt Journal takes a look at the odds against new table games, focusing on Double Action Roulette:

Sometimes it seems like there are more people with ideas for new casino games than gamblers. From afar, it’s a lot like watching salmon swim upstream; you know that many of them aren’t going to make it, but in order for the big circle of life to keep turning, they’ve got to try.

via How to Set a Fresh Table | Vegas Seven.

Then, because I had lots more to say about the game than space in the print edition allowed, I wrote a medium-length blog piece:

I think the game is going to be accepted by casinos because it does two things that the generally like: it increases revenues while holding steady (or decreasing) labor costs. With one dealer, Double Action can generate as much revenue as two dealers on two tables. That’s important, because payroll (including pay, benefits, and payroll taxes) takes up out 32 percent of gaming revenues on casinos included in the “Boulder Strip” reporting area (geography be damned, that includes the M). In general, the casino innovations that have caught on are those that help casinos lower their labor costs; coinless slots are the most dramatic example.

Why Double Action Roulette Will Catch On

I hope to do more of this sort of follow-up in the future. Often I have to leave a lot of good stuff on the cutting room floor because it doesn’t fit in with the main point of the article but is nonetheless enlightening.