The Revival of Casino History in Vegas Seven

In this week’s Green Felt Journal, I look at the comeback of history in Downtown Las Vegas:

On the heels of the Las Vegas Club’s closing comes news that a revived interest in casino history is spreading on Fremont Street.

Read More: The Revival of Casino History – Vegas Seven

I like this development–Las Vegas has a wonderful history, and more people appreciating it is a great thing.


Thank you for supporting BOARDWALK PLAYGROUND

After 28 days, my Kickstarter campaign to publish Boardwalk Playground has wrapped up. Thanks to the generosity and support of 58 backers, I raised the funds I needed to cover the production costs of my next book.

What’s next? I have had the book proofread, and have laid out the photos. Right now it is being indexed while I do another round of proofing. If things go according to plan, I will be able to upload a print-ready file within 3 weeks, so that I will be able to meet my October publication date. There should be plenty of books available at VIMFP on October 17.

Thank you to everyone who has helped me get this far. I wish I had the words to express just how much your support means to me right now–it means a lot.


Las Vegas Club’s End Marks a New Beginning – Vegas Seven

In this week’s Green Felt Journal, I consider the last hours and legacy of the just-closed Las Vegas Club, which is likely destined for better things.

It is a name—a generic one, but a name nonetheless—that has been part of Nevada history even before the 1931 relegalization of commercial gaming. In early April of that year, Las Vegas Club, then at 21 and 23 Fremont Street, received a license to offer games of chance from the Las Vegas City Commission. Earlier this month, that gambling hall—located on the opposite side of Fremont since 1949—closed its doors.

Source: Las Vegas Club’s End Marks a New Beginning – Vegas Seven

I’ve heard some very interesting speculation about what might happen at the former Las Vegas Club, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the Stevens brothers create.


Boardwalk Playground Kickstarter is live!



I have launched my latest Kickstarter campaign, Publish Boardwalk Playground. I am seeking funding to help me publish my new book, called Boardwalk Playground: The Making, Unmaking, & Remaking of Atlantic City. It’s the culmination of a long dream for me.

You can visit the Kickstarter page to see the project video (mostly me having fun with goofy captions) and check out the rewards I am offering to backers. If you’d like to learn more about the book and maybe even read a few sample chapters, I encourage you to visit the Boardwalk Playground book website.

Thank you to everyone who has backed the project! I met my funding goal on the first day, but am still accepting backers to facilitate my stretch goals, which include free stuff (postcards, bookmarks) and possibly t-shirts. If I get enough money, I will look into launching an ad campaign when the book comes out.



What the Nation’s Illegal Gambling Problem Means for Las Vegas – Vegas Seven

In this week’s Vegas Seven, the Green Felt Journal is about the continuing menace of illegal gambling and why it matters to Las Vegas:

With the proliferation of legal casino gaming throughout the country, it’s tempting to think of illegal play as something from a bygone time. But if you’ve been keeping up with the news lately, you know that illegal gambling is alive, well and far more pernicious—and just as persistent—than the three-card Monte dealers who still pop up on Strip pedestrian overpasses. Read More

Source: What the Nation’s Illegal Gambling Problem Means for Las Vegas – Vegas Seven

I think this is going to continue being a big story for a while to come.


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.