Wall-Spocks Are the Future in Vegas Seven

Today’s Vegas Seven includes a short piece I wrote about a Las Vegas start-up that’s worth looking at:

Walls 360, a local wall-graphics producer, has just announced a partnership with Moshi Monsters, an online virtual pet community think Neopets meets Pokémon with 65 million registered pre-teen users. And the company, which is based just south of the Orleans, isn’t about to stop there: It has plans to launch several more licensing partnerships this summer, adding pop-culture snap to a wall-decorating lineup that already includes images from Star Trek, children’s books such as The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and EA videogame titles.

via It’s Only Logical: Wall-Spocks Are the Future of Las Vegas | Vegas Seven.

On one hand, it was satisfying to learn about a growing local business and share their story. On the other, it was even more satisfying to get another Star Trek reference in print. And if you want your own wall Spock, check out Walls360.


Jon Gray and Linq in Vegas Seven

A few weeks ago I got to sit down and talk with a UNLV grad who’s gone pretty far in the Vegas hotel business and is poised to go further. The results of that talk? Today’s Vegas Seven cover story, a profile of Jon Gray:

For one, the $550 million shopping and entertainment district between the Flamingo and for now Imperial Palace will have its own mayor.Admittedly, the idea of a private business having a mayor—Foursquare notwithstanding—calls to mind a mascot more than an executive. But Jon Gray, the guy Caesars Entertainment has tapped for the post, is no Mayor McCheese. He’s considered one of the fastest-rising stars in the Las Vegas hospitality business. If there’s anyone who can rock the “mayor” title without losing credibility as vice president and general manager of Linq his official title, it’s a man who has spent much of the past decade learning the business from one of the best.

via The Sorcerer of Linq Alley | Vegas Seven.

Since it was unveiled, I’ve been generally upbeat about Linq. It going to add ancillary attractions without expanding the room capacity, and it makes sense from a variety of angles. I’m most curious about just how it will be distinguished from the numerous other places on the Strip where people can dine, shop, and be entertained, and Gray gave me one idea on how it will be different. I’m looking forward to seeing it all come together.

Plus, how many chances do you get to make a Mayor McCheese reference? Still waiting for the chance to legitimately drop a Hamburglar reference in somewhere. I’m not particularly fond of McDonald’s, but that stuff apparently made quite an impression on me as a kid.


Fertittas, UFC, and Online Gaming in Vegas Seven

Yesterday I wrote a blog piece for Vegas Seven about the significance of Fertitta Interactive launching Ultimate Gaming:

The story here isn’t so much the debut of a new online gaming platform. It’s the way that Ultimate will be branded and marketed. The Fertittas will align their betting platform with the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the premier mixed martial arts organization in the world, whose live shows, pay-per-views, and television broadcasts reach an audience of millions of men who happen to share

the same demographic profile as poker players.

via Fertittas Look to Leverage UFC for Online Gaming | Vegas Seven.

I’m probably going to write a column about this in the future, but I think that the advent of online gaming is going to change the business far more profoundly than is expected right now. There’s going to be some creative destruction and probably many unforeseen consequences, which will make it interesting to chronicle, if nothing else.


Siegel’s Shadow in Vegas Seven

Yesterday (June 20) was the 65th anniversary of Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel’s murder. Vegas Seven editor Greg Blake Miller asked me to write something about it, and I thought it would be a good time to introduce someone I’ve recently met, Bernie Sindler, who actually knew Siegel. I share a little of Sindler’s story and his theory about who really killed Bugsy in this Latest Thought:

Few murders have seared the soul of Las Vegas like one that didn’t even happen in the city—the June 20, 1947, murder of mobster Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel in his girlfriend’s Beverly Hills home.

Just about everyone in Las Vegas thinks they know who Bugsy Siegel was—the guy who founded the Flamingo and created modern Las Vegas. Actually, the credit for the former goes to Hollywood Reporter publisher/Los Angeles nightlife impresario/compulsive gambler Billy Wilkerson, and the latter … it’s safe to say can be credited to a few dozen people.

Siegel’s Shadow | Vegas Seven.

Who really killed Bugsy? Obviously, I wasn’t there, and as I say above, there’s no shortage of theories. But Sindler’s makes a lot of sense.

Bernie has an interesting story to tell, to say the least.


Worst Night Ever and a Prescient Casino Bar in Vegas Seven

This week, there’s no Green Felt Journal column, but I have two stories in Vegas Seven nevertheless. The first is a look at what I consider to be one of the most interesting things about Sunset Station, the Gaudi Bar. Sunset Station has just celebrated its 15th anniversary:

As Sunset Station turns 15 this month, there isn’t a special celebration planned for the Gaudi Bar. But that lounge was a look into the future of locals gambling.

Sunset Station Turns 15

Then, I have a piece that started as a short blog item but grew into a Latest item. I wrote it Sunday morning pondering the awful night that was Saturday: check-in delays at MGM properties, EDC shut down because of wind, and the Bradley/Pacquiao decision debacle. I figured that there were plenty of visitors (and locals too) who were pretty upset, and that it would all be forgotten by next week. But I think there’s something valuable in acknowledging our failures, and I thought that the perfect storm of mishaps was one that should not be unremembered. Was there a thread tying all of the messes together, or at least something we can learn from them? Read and find out:

There are a few reasonable ways to spin what happened: Fight fans got thrilling boxing action; MGM guests got the chance to spend more time in hotel lobbies close to the Vegas action; EDC-ers learned that Insomniac Events places a premium on their safety.

And of course one could simply say that the wheel of fortune is always turning, that the cards went against Las Vegas this weekend, but our luck is sure to turn soon, so don’t worry. But neither of those avenues will get this town very far. So, what’s the best way to manage what, for the hospitality business, would have to qualify as a PR crisis?

The Worst Night Ever?

That’s what I’ve got for this week.


Electric Daisy Economics in Vegas Seven

In the Green Felt Journal available in today’s Vegas Seven, I take a look at the real impact of the Electric Daisy Carnival on Las Vegas:

Generally speaking, if you want to bring an event to Las Vegas, the town is happy to oblige, provided you do three things:
1. Fill rooms with people who …
2. Open their wallets and …
3. Don’t disturb the other paying guests.Since last year’s event hit each of those benchmarks, this year the Electric Daisy Carnival is being welcomed back with open arms.

via Electric Daisy Economics | Vegas Seven.

I’d seen an economic impact statement and wanted to do a little comparison shopping. Turns out, EDC provides a respectable boost in spending for Las Vegas (no surprise there) that is right in line with many other major events.

I thought the LA Times editorial comments made a nice juxtaposition to the apparent success of EDC in Las Vegas, too.


The Rise of the Gaming-Tech Corridor in Vegas Seven

This week in Vegas Seven, I’ve got a short piece about why BMM’s move to the gaming tech corridor is significant:

The gaming-testing lab BMM International announced in late May that it was moving its world headquarters from its current Eastern Avenue digs to the south-of-McCarran industrial area that’s become the city’s gaming-tech corridor—an area whose very existence defines the way Las Vegas and gambling are changing.

via The Rise of the Gaming-Tech Corridor | Vegas Seven.

As you’ll see from the full article, this move speaks to the bigger shift that, I think, will profoundly change Las Vegas over the next few decades.


Moving Mountains, Building a City in Vegas Seven

This week in Vegas Seven, I have a Latest Thought that looks back at the life and career of Stuart Mason, as viewed through the lens of something you don’t hear enough about in Las Vegas, at least in the news: community:

We’ve all heard the stereotype: Las Vegas is nothing more than a transient city, a plastic place where no one puts down roots, neighbors remain strangers, and the only civic duty is every man for himself. It’s not true, of course, and it never has been. But with the constant media flow of Vegas “mythology”—often delivered by our very own marketing gurus—sometimes we have to remind ourselves that we are a real community, built by people willing to devote their lives to an improbable dream. The recent death of Stuart Mason, a builder of the real Las Vegas, is occasion for such a reminder.

via Moving Mountains, Building a City | Vegas Seven.

I got to know Stuart Mason a few years ago, through his involvement in UNLV Libraries. He was a great, funny guy, very unassuming, who nevertheless had a tremendous impact on Las Vegas.



Miracle Man & More in Vegas Seven

In today’s Vegas Seven, I have an About Town profile of the work Russell Joyner’s done with Miracle Mile Shops:

The International Council of Shopping Centers’ annual REcon event is the Super Bowl for retail real estate professionals. It’s going on right now at the Las Vegas Convention Center, so all eyes in the shopping-mall world are riveted on Las Vegas. Plenty of attendees have made it a point to talk to Russell Joyner, who, in eight years has turned Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood into the talk of the town.

via Miracle Man | Vegas Seven.

Talking with Joyner, I got a sense of just how many moving parts there are in Strip retail.

From last week, I’ve got a short look at the closing of the Stirling Club, if you missed it.


With Oseland Aboard, SLS Could Be a Winner in Vegas Seven

As you might know, a month ago, sbe Entertainment Group sent out a press release with some details of the financing of the putative SLS Las Vegas. I was skeptical, as were others. Last week, the company sent out a second press release, which provided more details. I still had questions, so, wearing my Vegas Seven gaming and hospitality writer hat, I put a call into sbe. After some back and forth, I had a 45 minute conversation with Rob Oseland, which answered many of my questions. The result: the latest Green Felt Journal, which talks a little about why, if this project is going to go forward, Oseland is a good guy to have in the driver’s seat:

Sam Nazarian’s SBE Entertainment Group made headlines last week by announcing that it had secured $300 million of the $415 million it needs to transform the shuttered Sahara hotel-casino—which the company bought in 2007, at the height of the casino real estate boom—into the SLS Las Vegas, a “refreshing, fun and accessible take on Vegas luxury.”There are still a host of concerns about the project, however: skeptics say that it’s too far away from the center of the action to compete; it’s too small; no one will invest in the north Strip; in any event, it’s not completely financed.Rob Oseland, recently hired as the president and chief operating officer of SLS Las Vegas, is the guy to answer those questions.

via With Oseland Aboard, SLS Could Be a Winner | Vegas Seven.

I look forward to a real back-and-forth about this on the next Vegas Gang.

I’ve gotten a few questions via email about this. The biggest one is: am I still skeptical? I’m not running for office, but I’m going to equivocate here. I have no idea whether sbe will be able to get the funding it needs. I’m not plugged into the investment banking/equity community, so I have no real insight about how competitive SLS Las Vegas is with the million other things that people could invest in.

Assuming a total project cost of about $415 million, you might have an annual average interest expense of $42 million or so. Could 1,600 rooms produce the kind of revenue that would enable them to make that nut? Possibly, if it does Cosmopolitan-like numbers for F&B. Will it be able to do Cosmo-like numbers in that location? It’s certainly possible, but it’s no slam dunk.

Then again, if it was a slam dunk, there would be a half-dozen other projects under construction. At one point very smart people in Las Vegas thought that a huge residential component at CityCenter was a slam dunk. Or taking on $20 billion in debt to go private. So is it possible that Nazarian, Oseland, and company see a value that others don’t? Definitely, because the crowd isn’t always right.

Of course, the crowd often is right, which is the rub.

According to Oseland, we should know by October–November at the latest–whether sbe gets its funding or not. This is going to be a great topic to debate up until we see construction start, or we get a tersely-worded press release announcing the project is “suspended.”

We had a few years of predictable success on the Strip, followed by a few years of predictable flops. Now we’re entering the unpredictable phase, where just about anything is possible. Should be a fun couple of years.