3
Dec

How Howard Hughes Changed Las Vegas Forever – Vegas Seven

In this week’s Green Felt Journal, I consider the changes that swept Las Vegas thanks to an arrival over Thanksgiving weekend, 1966.

For the weekend, though, it was business as usual. That Friday, 5,000 doctors arrived for an American Medical Association convention. Don Rickles could be seen at the Sahara’s Casbar lounge. And a young stand-up comedian named Woody Allen made his Las Vegas debut at Caesars Palace’s Circus Maximus showroom.

Down the boulevard at the Desert Inn, a guest who would change Las Vegas forever checked in—Howard Hughes.

How Howard Hughes Changed Las Vegas Forever – Vegas Seven

The basic explanation that you hear is that Hughes chased out the mob, brought in the corporations, and made Las Vegas respectable. I take a more nuanced look at his impact here, but mostly I wanted people to consider how one person’s arrival can shuffle the deck.

4
Nov

Get to Know the 442nd Regimental Combat Team – Vegas Seven

In this week’s Green Felt Journal, I talk about a truly amazing group that recently visited Las Vegas:

The men gathered in this room, however, are extraordinary. They are members of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the most decorated unit for its size and length of service in the history of the United States military.

Read More: Get to Know the 442nd Regimental Combat Team – Vegas Seven

It really was an honor to meet this group of Nisei veterans. I spoke with Lawson Sakai for about 45 minutes. Being as enthusiastic about history as I am, it was an unbelievable experience for me. Mr. Sakai is not just an eyewitness to history, he made history. I’m going to be sharing what he told me with students for a very long time.

7
Oct

Old-School Is New Again at the Global Gaming Expo – Vegas Seven

In this week’s Green Felt Journal, I consider what I found on the G2E expo floor:

It was clear that the big question asked last year at the expo—how to appeal to a new generation of gamblers—has not been fully answered, but we got several tantalizing glimpses of the future.

Old-School Is New Again at the Global Gaming Expo – Vegas Seven

I think there is a desire and need for new kinds of games. Of course slot machines still make billions each year, but past changes in gambling have shown that all that can change. People didn’t stop playing faro or start playing slots overnight. Is “social” or “skill” going to replace slots next year? No. In twenty years? It’s possibly that something will.

24
Sep

Gaming Hall’s Class of ’15 in Vegas Seven

In this week’s Green Felt Journal, I talk about the latest inductees into the Gaming Hall of Fame:

The American Gaming Association recently announced three new inductees entering the Gaming Hall of Fame this fall: bookmaking pioneer Victor Salerno, tribal gaming advocate Lynn Valbuena and longtime industry executive Larry Woolf. Let’s get to know the class of 2015. Read More

Gaming Hall’s Class of ’15 – Vegas Seven

It has been interesting watching the Hall evolve alongside the industry the past few years. I wonder who will be inducted in 2025?

7
Aug

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.

9
Jul

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.

23
Apr

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.

10
Apr

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.

25
Mar

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.

11
Mar

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.