New Book Coming & You Can Help!

A real book!

I have some exciting news to share: I have a new book coming out, and you can be a part of it.

If you’re familiar with my work, you may have seen my articles about Atlantic City history in Casino Connection magazine. Each month (for about 8 years), I wrote about an aspect of that city’s history—maybe the infamous Nucky Johnson, classic hotels like the Traymore and Marlborough-Blenheim, or casinos like the Tropicana and Playboy. That column gave me a chance to do some solid research on my hometown and, better yet, share it with readers.

This summer, with the support of Casino Connection publisher Roger Gros, I compiled my existing columns, updated them, and added several more. The result is one hundred stories about Atlantic City that together tell the story of the World’s Playground, from its 1854 founding right up to this summer. At a time when the city is at a crossroads, I thought everyone would be better off if they could better appreciate the city’s past.

The book is called Boardwalk Playground: The Making, Unmaking, & Remaking of Atlantic City, with a subtitle of “How the people of Atlantic City built a seaside paradise, lost it, rebuilt a casino town, mostly lost it, and kept on dreaming.”

So what does this have to do with you? First, I hope that you’ll enjoy reading the book once it is out. Second, I need a little help to get it published. I have all of the writing and layout work done, and am currently in need of professional proofreading and indexing. To defray the costs of both, I have launched a Kickstarter campaign, hoping to raise the money I need to pay professionals to do their best work.

I had such a great experience with my last book, Grandissimo, in part because of the Kickstarter campaign that got it off the ground, that I had to go this route again. My thanks again to everyone who made that a success.

If you’d like to visit check out the campaign—which is only running a short time—and see a video, visit my Boardwalk Playground Kickstarter page. If you’d like to learn more about the book and read a few excerpts, visit the Boardwalk Playground website. Thank you!

Support Boardwalk Playground


The Long, Hot Summer of ’55 | Vegas Seven


In this week’s Vegas Seven, I have a cover story on the frustrating summer of 1955–a year that has plenty to teach Las Vegas 2015:

Lanza’s no-show aside, opening night at the New Frontier was regarded as a success. One of the Strip’s first resorts had reinvented itself for the Atomic Age, bigger and better. It whet the appetite for what was to come.

Source: The Long, Hot Summer of ’55 | Vegas Seven

This was a story that I’ve been wanting to write for a long time. Thanks to Matt Jacob and Greg Miller I have.

First, it’s got the story behind the openings (and subsequent struggles) of the New Frontier, Royal Nevada, Riviera, Dunes, and Moulin Rouge. It also talks about lesser-known failures like the Desert Spa.

For today’s readers who are interested in more than “just history,” 1955 has clear parallels to the recession, and the pivot Las Vegas did in the years after 1955–chiefly, moving towards conventions and investing significantly in them–has lessons for today.


How to Keep Las Vegas’ Forward Momentum Rolling – Vegas Seven

In my latest Green Felt Journal, I look at the importance of the new Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee:

Las Vegas may be breaking tourism records—May was the city’s busiest month ever, with more than 3.7 million visitors—but that doesn’t mean it’s time to get complacent. Governor Brian Sandoval must understand this, since he’s assembled a new committee that will spend the next year considering ways to create the infrastructure that will keep tourism—and the local economy—booming into the future. Read More

Source: How to Keep Las Vegas’ Forward Momentum Rolling – Vegas Seven

It’s always nice to look into the historical context for present-day policies.




Locals Casinos Are Back in Business in Vegas Seven

In this week’s Green Felt Journal, I look at the resurgence of locals casinos in Las Vegas:

Since the recession, the locals casino market has endured some tough times, but the 2015 numbers so far suggest those tough times might be over. In particular, North Las Vegas and Boulder Strip properties, after several rough years, are showing revenue increases. Is it because value-conscious visitors are venturing off the Strip? Is it a sign of a reinvigorated economy? Possibly a little of both. Whatever the cause, the stronger neighborhood casino market is a positive sign for Southern Nevada’s overall economic health.

Source: Locals Casinos Are Back in Business | Vegas Seven

Since neighborhood casinos were hardest hit by the recession, their comeback could be a positive sign for the local economy.


Kirk Kerkorian, 1917-2015 | Vegas Seven

In this week’s Vegas Seven, I look back at the legacy of Kirk Kerkorian:

When Kirk Kerkorian died June 15 at the age of 98, Las Vegas didn’t just lose a visionary whose fingerprints are all over the city’s most recognizable chunk of real estate. It lost a man whose accomplishments will almost certainly never again be equaled by a single person.

Kirk Kerkorian, 1917-2015 | Vegas Seven

In addition to everything I wrote about in the column, I’d like to share a personal story. I only spoke with Mr. Kerkorian once, but it was meaningful. This was back in 2008, when I was conducting the research for Grandissimo. I cold-called Mr. Kerkorian’s office and explained that I wanted to speak briefly with him about his memories of Jay Sarno and Caesars Palace–since he was Sarno’s landlord at the start, he had a perspective that no one else did. I explained this to whoever took my call, emphasizing that I wasn’t going to start grilling him about his current investments, but just wanted to talk about Jay.

The next day, I was up in Reno (that semester I was covering a class for Bill Eadington), and when I got back to the office the following and checked my messages, there was not one but three voicemails from Mr. Kerkorian’s office, trying to schedule an interview time.

Naturally I called back right away, and had a 20-minute or so conversation with Mr. Kerkorian, who had some great memories. He was impressed, still, with both Jay’s golf game and his appetite, and credited him with changing the industry.

Mr. Kerkorian didn’t have to take the time to talk with someone writing a book about things that had happened 50 years before, but he did. It speaks, at least to me, to the kind of man he was.


Sports Betting Hits It Big in the Casino Industry | Vegas Seven

In this week’s Green Felt Journal, I consider the somewhat-unlikely rise of sports betting in Nevada gaming:

Why did Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, on the eve of the close to the legislative session, sign bills that will expand the reach of sportsbooks? Why is New Jersey Governor Chris Christie suing the federal government to allow Garden State casinos and racetracks to offer sports wagering? The answers can’t be found in the bottom-line numbers Nevada sportsbooks have posted, but rather in the trajectory of sports wagering.

Source: Sports Betting Hits It Big in the Casino Industry | Vegas Seven

The industry is always evolving, and it looks like this is one direction that is moving.


How Long Will Las Vegas’ Hot Streak Last? | Vegas Seven

In this week’s Vegas Seven, I consider whether the current good times in Las Vegas are here to stay:

Your odds would be much the same without a system, but there’s something to be said for the comfort of a system. You’re not at the mercy of blind fate; you are following a game plan and reaping the rewards. And when it no longer rewards you, well, sometimes it wins and sometimes it loses.

Source: How Long Will Las Vegas’ Hot Streak Last? | Vegas Seven

My original working title for this was “Is it 2006 again?”


A New Era for the Tropicana? | Vegas Seven

In this week’s Green Felt Journal, I consider the importance of the recent sale of the Tropicana Las Vegas:

But lost in the Riviera/Resorts World news cycle was the announcement of another Strip milestone—one that may have more significance for Las Vegas’ short-term future: The Tropicana has a new owner, national casino operator Penn National Gaming.

Source: A New Era for the Tropicana? | Vegas Seven

With the Hooters’ sale last week, it looks like business is about to pick up on the South Strip.


The Last Days of the Riviera | Vegas Seven

 I have the cover story in this week’s Vegas Seven. It’s a look at the final days of the Riviera:

But the Riviera, unlike the Fontainebleau, won’t go down in Las Vegas history as a failure. It was, after all, a Strip hotel that kept its doors open for 60 years. And in Las Vegas, that’s about as unlikely a winning streak as you’ll ever see.

The Last Days of the Riviera | Vegas Seven

This was a very difficult story to write. I hope I succeeded in trying to convey what the closing has been like for those who worked there, and why the place really does matter.


Gambling Is No Longer Las Vegas’ Main Attraction | Vegas Seven

In this week’s Green Felt Journal, I share some insights from the latest Las Vegas Visitor Profile:

Increasing international visitation has long been a goal of the LVCVA, and the numerous investments the agency has made toward that end continue to bear fruit. In 2007, 12 percent of visitors came from abroad; in real numbers, this accounts for about 4.7 million people. Last year, that percentage jumped to 19 percent, which when factoring in increased visitation—we topped 40 million last year—translated into more than 7.8 million international visitors. That’s a two-thirds increase in seven years.

via Gambling Is No Longer Las Vegas’ Main Attraction | Vegas Seven

Looking at this year’s profile really drives home the demographic and behavioral changes in visitors to Las Vegas.