Circus Circus Success

In the late 1980s, as other Las Vegas Strip casinos faltered, Circus Circus was prospering. Building its business on the “grind,” thousands of small players instead of a few big high rollers, Circus boasted a compound annual growth rate of more than 29 percent for the latter half of the decade. In doing so, it laid the groundwork for the 1990s Las Vegas casino boom.

You can read more about Circus Circus and other Las Vegas casinos in Roll the Bones: The History of Gambling

Go here to read an excerpt from the book, or learn where to buy your copy.

What is Grandissimo?

This is a book project that I’ve been working on for several years. It’s the story of the man who I believe to be the single most influential figure in Las Vegas casinos in the 1960s and 1970s, but who unfortunately not many people know about.

I’m substantially finished the book, and hope to publish it later this year.

Until then, I’m using this space to let people know about the book.

13th floor fun in Vegas Seven

My latest Green Felt Journal is up in Vegas Seven. This week I talk about a brand new attraction at Circus Circus that’s a little spooky: About this time every year, theme parks around the country get a monthlong reprieve from the off-season as they re-theme themselves for Halloween. No one wants to float down … Read more

Words from the past

Speaking of dark and gloomy, here’s a quote from the day before Mirage opened back in 1989, from the LA Times via proquest: At the same time, though, the new competition is expected to drive struggling gambling halls out of business.”There’;s going to be a shakeout,” said Glenn S. Schaeffer, chief financial officer of Circus … Read more

Vegas tips from Oz

I caught this wide-eyed Vegas puff piece on an Australian news website, and I had to laugh. I’ll spare you the article, but here are the tips. I’ll let my readers deconstruct them at will. From NEWS.com.au: # Stay on The Strip. All the action is there and everywhere else is a bust. Try to … Read more

VT takes on casino logos

I’m fooling around with using ScribeFire to create posts, so this might not work. Hopefully it does, because I really think people should check out this neat feature at Vegas Tripping, a detailed rumination on the evolution of Las Vegas casino logos: But what is it that makes for a successful logo in Las Vegas? … Read more

Book review: Super Casino

Re-reading after seven years, I’m struck by two things: I’m not entirely comfortable reviewing books that I don’t like, and the general quality of writing about Las Vegas has not much improved.

Let me explain: as a writer, I absolutely hate saying negative things about other writers. I know how hard it is to find the discipline and vision to write a book, then go through rounds of revisions and editorial haggling. To do all this and then see your work ripped to shreds is just heart-breaking.

But sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind, I’ve heard, and sometimes the writer isn’t the victim, the reader is. Maybe the writer took a nice advance then realized that he didn’t have anything meaningful to say on the topic. In that case, I’ve got no pity: I’ve been offered projects that I didn’t feel I could do justice to, and I’ve turned them down, even though it meant passing up a payday. Before I start writing, I feel an obligation to the reader to approach the topic in good faith.

And the more crap that’s out there, particularly the more well-marketed crap, the less room there is for real writing in the book ecosystem: it’s literary kudzu, or snakeheads, or whatever invasive species you can think of. Theodore Sturgeon was probably right when he said “ninety-five percent of everything is crap,” and in regard to Las Vegas/gambling that’s probably a generous estimate. But since for whatever reason I’m in a position to have some influence, I try to encourage good writing. I’m not saying I practice it or anything, I’m just saying I can recognize it and, like a soused undergrad seeing that guy from his o-chem class across the haze of a frat party, say, with an equivalent nod of the head, “Dude!”

As you’ll see, I’m not saying “dude” for this book.

Read more