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.


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.


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.


The Making of a Vegas Icon | Vegas Seven

What makes a Vegas icon? That’s the question I asked and answered in this week’s Green Felt Journal:

Late last month, the Clark County Commission awarded Caesars Entertainment’s High Roller observation wheel the inaugural Las Vegas Icon Award. The County Commission’s best intentions aside, Vegas icon-hood can’t be bestowed, like a key to the city. It can’t be earned, either. It just happens. The ultimate test of whether something is truly iconic really comes down to this: When you see it, do you immediately think of Las Vegas?

via The Making of a Vegas Icon | Vegas Seven.

I think that the High Roller is in the same class as the Stratosphere: the profile itself could be in another city (Seattle or London, for example), but over time it will become part of the skyline and by extension iconic.

When you think about it, Britney Spears and Elton John can now be considered Las Vegas entertainment icons, so iconhood is going to change over time.


Why Las Vegas’ Gaming Revenue Decrease Is Not a Bad Thing | Vegas Seven

In this week’s Green Felt Journal, I talk about why the fall in gaming revenue doesn’t matter as much as it would have a few years back:

Once upon a time, an annual drop in Nevada’s gaming revenue was greeted with the same reaction of denial, fear and panic that might accompany the diagnosis of a terminal disease. In the natural order of the past several decades, Nevada casinos are supposed to win more every year than the last—and that’s usually how it went. So it’s noteworthy that Nevada’s casinos won less in 2014 than they did in 2013. But here’s what’s more telling: Nobody seems to care, and for good reason.

via Why Las Vegas’ Gaming Revenue Decrease Is Not a Bad Thing | Vegas Seven.

We’ve known that the Strip isn’t all about gambling for a long time, but I thought those numbers really illustrated why.


Why Congress Should Repeal a Federal Tax on Sports Betting | Vegas Seven

My latest Green Felt Journal talks about the history behind the federal tax on sports betting:

Like so much else in the history of Nevada gaming, the tax is linked to the Kefauver Committee, the early 1950s U.S. Senate body that investigated organized crime throughout America. Chaired by maverick Tennessee Democrat Estes Kefauver, the committee found that organized crime was indeed a national problem—a problem chiefly fueled by income from gambling operations. With state and local authorities unable (or unwilling) to prosecute gambling entrepreneurs to its satisfaction, Congress decided to fix the problem itself.

via Why Congress Should Repeal a Federal Tax on Sports Betting | Vegas Seven.

Always nice to bring some history into the discussion.


Riviera Going Out as It Came In: A Symbol of the Strip’s Future | Vegas Seven

In my latest Green Felt Journal, I take a look at the Riviera’s place in history:

If there were one property you could point to that has represented the evolution of our city’s casinos over the past 60 years, it would be the Riviera. So it’s only fitting that, in its final days, the hotel-casino is doing so again.

via Riviera Going Out as It Came In: A Symbol of the Strip’s Future | Vegas Seven.

I have a lot more than 700 words to say about the Riviera’s past and future, and I hope to be able to write more about them both soon.


Stories Never Told, of a City That Never Was | Vegas Seven

This week’s feature in Vegas Seven is a lot of fun. A bunch of Seven writers contributed brief thoughts on what might have happened in things had turned out a little differently at various points in Las Vegas history. It’s alt-history for Vegas:

So, in the interest of preserving our own sanity, we’re taking the occasion of our fifth anniversary to share some of these coulda-happened scenarios with you. Read them, ponder them or imagine them as feature films starring Steve Buscemi as Oscar Goodman. Just be aware that, as you take in these wild conjectures, you might be changing the course of Las Vegas history. Though if you do, we’ll still write about it.

via Stories Never Told, of a City That Never Was | Vegas Seven.

I am happy to have contributed a few items. This was probably the most fun I’ve had writing in a while.


Nongaming Activities Continue to Pay the Bills for Strip Casinos | Vegas Seven

This week’s Green Felt Journal dissects the reality behind the numbers in the Gaming Abstract:

Each year, the Gaming Control Board releases a massive document that charts the performance of the state’s casinos for the previous fiscal year, broken down by geographic area and income. The release of the 2014 Nevada Gaming Abstract crystallizes the trends that have shaped the local gaming industry over the past year. Not surprisingly, the 23 Las Vegas Strip casinos that made more than $72 million in gaming revenue in 2014 are a critical piece of the state’s economic infrastructure: These large Strip properties represent more than half of Nevada’s gaming revenue and nearly two-thirds of the state’s total revenue (gaming and non-gaming combined). Let’s dive into the details:

via Nongaming Activities Continue to Pay the Bills for Strip Casinos | Vegas Seven

It will be interesting to see how things fared over the 2nd half of 2014, to say the least.


The Locals vs. Tourists Balancing Act | Vegas Seven

This week’s Green Felt Journal, partially written in my head while hanging out at the Discovery Children’s Museum last week, is about the tug of war between locals and visitors in Las Vegas:

Sometimes, it can seem that life in Southern Nevada is a big zero-sum game. With limited money to spend in both the private and public sectors, this dilemma is ever-present: Invest in infrastructure and attractions that will draw more tourists and pump more money into the economy, or add more services and institutions that enhance the quality of life for those of us who live here?

via The Locals vs. Tourists Balancing Act | Vegas Seven

At the museum, I just got to thinking that the line between local and not visitor isn’t always as sharp as we assume. It’s a lot blurrier than the line between local and shoobie, anyway. I have no idea if I spelled shoobie right. Not sure if there is a correct standard English spelling since it’s transliterated from South Jerseyean.