Happy 48th Birthday, Caesars Palace

Forty-eight years ago today, Caesars Palace opened, and Las Vegas never was the same again. 

August 5, 1966, was the start of the three-day celebration that introduced the world to Jay Sarno’s vision of Las Vegas. Though there were plenty of skeptics, the opening was a smash and the property never looked back.

Here’s Jay Sarno, in a photo taken the night Caesars opened. 

And here’s Nate Jacobson, Jay’s partner and the president of Caesars Palace, with the guest of honor, Jimmy Hoffa.

If you’d like to learn more about that night (and the day that preceded it, here is an excerpt from Grandissimo detailing Jay’s life on August 5, 1966.

And if you like that, you might want to read a copy of the whole book.

Grandissimo Audiobook is coming!

I’ve gotten many questions over the past few months about whether Grandissimo will be available as an audiobook. Earlier, I didn’t have an answer. Now, I can definitively answer “yes.”

I’m working with voiceover maven Eric Martin, You can read more about him (and hear him) on his website. Part of the reason that I agreed to work with Eric is the high quality of his work. He’s done this many times before, and will deliver a high-quality audio version of my words. I think the readers (or, in this case, listeners) deserve nothing less.

I don’t have a firm release date yet, but Eric has finished through chapter 8, so things look good for sometime late in August.

It’s very gratifying to see the support and interest that the book has gotten thus far, and I’m grateful to Eric for his belief that this will make a compelling audiobook.

Stay posted for updates!

For Online Gaming, Slow and Steady’s Just Right | Vegas Seven

In this weeks’ Green Felt Journal, I consider whether a “slow” rollout of online gaming in the U.S. is such a bad thing:

Beyond the neon of Nevada and Atlantic City, gaming used to be something the nation spoke about in either whispers like that cousin who never made good or screams like that cousin who never made good and was coming to town to spoil your sister’s wedding. Now, though, online gaming is the subject of serious—and generally calm—discussion. Some bemoan its potential negative effects; others lament the meager trickle of revenues to date. Still others offer both, seemingly contradictory, reactions. But the real news is that there hasn’t been much to either complain or crow about: The rollout of online play has been largely uneventful—and that’s a good thing.

via For Online Gaming, Slow and Steady’s Just Right | Vegas Seven.

The fact that online gaming has been running in the U.S. for over a year–even at a small scale–is, I think, a pretty interesting story.

How the Sidewalk Took Over the Strip | Vegas Seven

This week, I’ve got a cover story in Vegas Seven that traces the development of the precursor of today’s Strip retail boom, Hawaiian Marketplace:

You’re walking south down las Vegas Boulevard, past a nondescript strip mall promising beer, wine and four-for-$9.99 T-shirts when you see it: the carved head of a bronze-helmeted warrior poking serenely out of a landscaped planter, faded 7-Eleven banners flapping in the background. With only scaffolding visible behind it, the warrior looks out of place but not out of place—another artifact beached on the Strip shoreline, divorced from logic and context.

And yet that warrior is there for a reason. He’s a sentinel guarding the approach to a development that, 10 years ago, saw the future of the Strip.

via How the Sidewalk Took Over the Strip | Vegas Seven.

I thought this was a story the deserved writing because (a) it’s been ten years since Hawaiian Marketplace opened and (b) it doesn’t seem to have gotten the recognition that current trends would indicate it deserves.

A Fresh Study Sheds Light on the Habits of the Vegas Visitor | Vegas Seven

In this week’s Green Felt Journal, I look at how the Vegas visitor is changing–and what that means:

The big question is, Why do people come to Las Vegas in the first place? Naturally, there are many reasons, so GLS Research, which compiles the profile, asks subjects for the primary purpose of their most recent visit. Having heard so much about how the Strip is about “more than gambling” these days, the trend is surprising: 15 percent of respondents said they came here primarily to gamble—more than three times the 4 percent who said that in 2004.

via A Fresh Study Sheds Light on the Habits of the Vegas Visitor | Vegas Seven

The one constant in Las Vegas is that the visitor is always changing. It’s up to the casinos to evolve to fit emerging demographics without alienating the old.

The Languages of Gaming | Vegas Seven

In this week’s Vegas Seven, I take a look at what the addition of a bilingual game at a North Las Vegas casino means:

The Lucky Club’s move speaks to the growing presence of Spanish-speaking players in and around Las Vegas. And it’s not without precedent. In 2010, Buffalo Bill’s casino in Primm started offering bilingual blackjack, with dealers speaking to players in both English and Spanish. Combined with Spanish-language concerts, the game was an attempt to counter the inroads that California’s tribal casinos have made into the drive-up Southern California market. To all appearances, the move was successful—Buffalo Bill’s Latino offerings continue to draw.

via The Languages of Gaming | Vegas Seven

Simply put, if you have money and want to gamble it, casinos will find a way to accommodate you.

The Festivalization of Las Vegas | Vegas Seven

This week in Vegas Seven, I contribute to the cover coverage of EDC with a feature on how EDC has paved the way for the festivalization of Las Vegas:

It takes one thing to go from outsider to establishment in Las Vegas: success. When Pasquale Rotella’s Insomniac Events first brought the Electric Daisy Carnival to Las Vegas in 2011, he was a renegade fleeing Los Angeles, which had hosted the festival for more than a decade but rolled up the welcome mat amid controversy in 2010. There was a historic parallel to this eastward emigration: Eighty years earlier, Southern California authorities took a dim view of the gambling operations of such entrepreneurs as Guy MacAfee and Tony Corerno, who decided to pack up their chips, head up Highway 91 and set up shop in Las Vegas. That worked out pretty well. EDC seems to be following suit.

via The Festivalization of Las Vegas | Vegas Seven.

I’d like to thank Pasquale Rotella and Rehan Choudry for being so helpful in out interviews–they each have a vision of the future of the Las Vegas festival, and it will be exciting to see how it shapes up.

The Man Who Gave Regulation a Good Name | Vegas Seven

In this week’s Green Felt Journal, I look back at the legacy of Bob Faiss, who immeasurably shaped gaming in Nevada and many other places:

Faiss shaped the evolution of Nevada’s gaming regulation as an attorney who represented some of the state’s largest casinos, but never lost sight of what he considered truly important: what was best for Nevada. When he joined Lionel Sawyer & Collins in the early 1970s (after service with the state and federal governments, and finishing a four-year night law degree program in three years), there was no such thing as a “gaming attorney.” Faiss was part of the generation of practitioners that codified gaming law as its own specialty.

via The Man Who Gave Regulation a Good Name | Vegas Seven.

If you are interested in gaming history, I strongly suggest picking up a copy of Bob’s oral history–he was there as the present regulatory system was put together, and he had a large role in shaping it.

Putting the ‘World’ in the World Series of Poker | Vegas Seven

In this week’s Green Felt Journal, I explore how the World Series of Poker has changed during the past decade at the Rio:

When Harrah’s Entertainment—now Caesars Entertainment—bought Binion’s Horseshoe in January 2004, it also acquired the World Series of Poker. Harrah’s more or less sold the Downtown hotel-casino to West Virginia-based MTR Gaming three months later, retaining the rights to the Horseshoe name and the World Series of Poker. That April, Harrah’s held the WSOP at the newly renamed Binion’s, which, in both name and neon, had lost its Horseshoe. The following year, the competition shifted to the Rio. The move was straight out of the Las Vegas playbook, sacrificing a tie with tradition for future growth.

via Putting the ‘World’ in the World Series of Poker | Vegas Seven.

My question is, what will the WSOP look like ten years from now?

On Writing Grandissimo | UNLV News Center

I have a little piece on UNLV’s Newscenter about why it’s important to preserve the past:

Since my latest book, Grandissimo, came out, people have asked me why I wrote it. The simple answer is that Jay Sarno was the most interesting person in Las Vegas history not to have a book already written about him. But the process of researching and writing it reminded me of how important it is to preserve our past — even the parts that don’t seem immediately important.

via On Writing Grandissimo | UNLV News Center

There’s also a hint about a project I’m currently working on, if you are interested.