Visiting the Island at UNLV Special Collections

The last of my trilogy of Tropicana birthday/anniversary pieces is this blog post from UNLV Special Collections that looks at a different era of the Strip mainstay that is celebrating its 60th: For research into the Tropicana, one of the best resources is the Tropicana Promotional and Publicity Material Collection, nine boxes of press clippings, … Read more

Sixty years ago, the Tropicana opened under Mob’s hidden control | The Mob Museum

To commemorate the April 4, 1957 opening of the Tropicana, I wrote a guest blog post for the Mob Museum: It just so happened that Conquistador’s owner, “Dandy” Phil Kastel, had a long and fruitful partnership with Frank Costello, perhaps the nation’s most infamous gangster in the spring of 1957. For years, Kastel had run … Read more

The Tiffany of the Strip – Vegas Seven

In this week’s Vegas Seven, I take a six-decade look back at the Tropicana, which celebrates its 60th birthday next week: However, a piece of paper police officers discovered in Costello’s pocket while he was at Roosevelt Hospital was more eloquent. “Gross casino wins as of 4-26-57,” it read. “$651,284. Casino wins less markers $434,595.00. … Read more

Sahara Vs. Trop in Vegas Seven

This week I’ve got three separate pieces in Vegas Seven. The first is a short news item comparing and contrasting two Strip casinos with similar origins and dissimilar fates:

The Tropicana and the Sahara are a study in contrasts despite some shared history; at opposite ends of the Strip, both holdovers from the 1950s managed to survive into the 21st century. Both drifted further and further down market as they faced larger and more luxurious competitors. And, as of today, they are facing profoundly different fates. One is closing, while the other has a new lease on life.

via A Tale of Two Casinos | Vegas Seven.

Why did they end up going in different directions? I’d say it’s equal parts decision-making and geography. Obviously, the Tropicana’s going to get much more walk-in action and attract more people who want to be around other casinos. The Sahara, as of today, is almost in a no-man’s-land. The decision making part is: the Sahara folks (SBE) wanted to go for a massive renovation project that would have aimed towards the luxury market, and missed the timing. Two years earlier, and they’d have gotten funding, no problem. The Tropicana, on the other hand, took a smaller approach, simply remodeling its rooms for the mid-market.

Trop tale in Vegas Seven

My latest Green Felt Journal piece is out, in Vegas Seven. I get to name-drop Heraclitus to sound sophisticated before talking about the redo of the Trop: That’s because the only thing that doesn’t change around this town is change. There are few other places where anyone would even consider spending $150 million to “relaunch” … Read more

Latest GFJ: The Power of Twitter

My much-anticipated Green Felt Journal piece about casino tweeting–which inspired me to finally claim @unlvgaming and get to work–is out, in today’s Vegas Seven: Casinos are always looking for new ways to reach customers. So it’s no surprise that they’ve embraced Twitter, the popular social networking application that lets anyone tell the world, in 140 … Read more

Strip shell game!

It’s hard to believe, but one of the oldest gambling con games is alive and well in the shadow of the Las Vegas Strip. I snapped some pictures of a shell game in action on Monday between the Tropicana and Hooters. Technically that’s not the Strip, but it’s in the Strip tourist corridor, so the headline is accurate. Click through to see indisputable photographic evidence and some homespun analysis.

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Luxor getting darker?

The Tropicana’s woes might be the Luxor’s gain. The pyramid on the Strip is picking up two exhibits that as Columbia Sussex’s flagship is taking on water (allegedly). From the LVRJ: Luxor is picking up two nongaming attractions from the Tropicana. Atlanta-based Premier Exhibitions announced Tuesday it signed a 10-year agreement with the Luxor to … Read more