A few weeks back I got an email about an event connected to the launch of Virgin America’s thrice-daily LAX-LAS flights. I usually don’t go to those kinds of events–there’s not too much to “cover” outside of photo ops. But I got thinking…wouldn’t it be fun to ask Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson how Vegas might factor in his plans for regular open-to-the-public spaceflights?
That’s the genesis of this feature in Vegas Seven:
Could Las Vegas become a launching pad for a new type of tourist—the kind who’s looking for a thrill ride that can’t be found behind the velvet rope?
In the past five years, ideas that once seemed outlandish—medical tourism, a tech corridor, green energy—have been seriously considered as viable tools for our economic development. Why not space tourism?
via Vegas to the Moon! | Vegas Seven.
I also did a companion piece about a company that’s already flying out of McCarran. It won’t take you to space, but it will get you weightless:
You want to experience the feeling of spaceflight, but you don’t have the 200 grand to fork over to Sir Richard. What to do?
As always in matters of semi-sane wish-fulfillment, Las Vegas can help. The Zero G Weightless Experience—available several times a year at McCarran International Airport—never leaves Earth’s atmosphere, but does let participants leave gravity behind.
How to Get Spacey Without Going to Space
Between this and last week’s video game wagering piece, I’m all about proposing strange new worlds for Las Vegas to consider.
In this week’s Green Felt Journal, I take a look at how a British invasion has changed Las Vegas nightlife:
The two biggest demographics in Las Vegas these days seem to be nightclubbers and international visitors. As a bit of anecdotal evidence of the trend, the casinos in development that have stoked the imagination plan to cater either to the former SLS, Gansevoort or the latter Resorts World. So when you get the two together—international visitors who like to party—you know you’re talking gold mine. Add in that they’re from one of the most lucrative feeder markets for Vegas—the United Kingdom—and you’re practically printing cash.
via The British Are Coming! | Vegas Seven.
Interesting that my last two GFJs have been about the influence of other cities (London, Macau) on Las Vegas.
I’ve got a little resort fee reverie in Vegas Seven this week:
Resort fees—those mandatory per-night add-ons of between $3 and $25 that include charges for services guests may or may not use during their stay—migrated to Las Vegas in the early 2000s, but have recently gotten a second wind. Caesars Entertainment had for years railed against them, even staging a showgirl “protest” march down the Strip in July 2011 to call attention to its policy of not charging a resort fee. Yet Caesars recently reversed course and began charging fees at its Las Vegas properties. And the South Point, another casino that had advertised its lack of resort fees, also started charging them.
via Resort Fees Costing Casinos Goodwill | Vegas Seven.
If you can’t guess, I’m not a fan of resort fees. My feeling is that if you don’t like them as a customer, there’s no reason to implement them as a manager. Clearly that’s a minority opinion, or other people really do like them.
In this week’s Green Felt Journal, I take a look at how the proposed Resorts World Las Vegas differs from the project it replaced:
When Resorts World Las Vegas rises from the abandoned husk of Echelon on the north Strip, it will be very different from what Echelon would have been. And the differences tell us a lot about where Las Vegas has gone in the six years since the property’s 2007 groundbreaking.
via With Resorts World, Macau Comes to Vegas | Vegas Seven.
I look forward to seeing Resorts World take shape. It may define post-Macau, post-recession Las Vegas.
In this week’s Green Felt Journal, I take a look at how the Strip’s original boutique hotel is keeping up with the competition:
But the original boutique hotel-within-a-hotel on the Strip, the Four Seasons, is generating some buzz of its own with a two-phase renovation that’s just started its second half. Sharing the Mandalay Bay complex with the Delano Las Vegas, it’s got something the other boutique projects don’t: a history in town.
via Keeping a Season Ahead | Vegas Seven.
I’m hoping that the free wifi thing really does catch on. MGM’s already rolled it out at many of their properties.
In this week’s Vegas Seven, I consider the bigger impact of the attention focused on problem gambling due to the case of Maureen O’Connor:
The recent revelation that former San Diego Mayor Maureen O’Connor had reportedly embezzled more than $2 million from a charitable foundation to feed her gambling addiction has focused attention on pathological gambling.
via Defining a Dark Allure | Vegas Seven.
I’ve also got a wrap-up of the 2012 Nevada gaming revenue picture, which highlights a few of the big trends.
And if you want to get really creative, try to guess which of the Great Nights Out I anonymously contributed. Fun story.
This is one of the most emotionally-difficult pieces I’ve had to write for Vegas Seven–a look at the career and legacy of my friend and mentor Bill Eadington, who passed away last week:
Within five years of his 1969 arrival at the University of Nevada, Reno as an assistant professor, Eadington had made the case for gaming as the subject of serious academic inquiry. In 1974, he organized the first meeting of what is now the International Conference on Gambling and Risk Taking at the Sahara in Las Vegas, threading a narrow path between academics who scoffed at the idea of learning anything from studying how people gamble and casino professionals who mocked the notion of reedy academics passing judgment on their methods.
via A Game-Changing Scholar | Vegas Seven.
I’ve been working on the program for the 15th International Conference this week, and I can definitely say that Bill’s spirit will be with all of us.
This week in Vegas Seven, I also consider the Mob Museum’s first year:
But the Mob Museum—together with the 2012 openings of The Smith Center and the Neon Museum—signaled a new era for Las Vegas’ cultural institutions, and a commitment to Downtown. These institutions have deeper local roots, and it seems more likely that they’ll have staying power.That being said, was the Mob Museum a box-office hit in its first year?
via Mobbing the Mob Museum | Vegas Seven
As you may or may not know, I show up at a few places in the museum–not as a subject, but as someone putting the history into context via video and, this never ceases to amaze me, a slot machine. But I didn’t have much to do with the actual design of the exhibits, so I pretty much was watching from the outside like everyone else.
That being said, I think they’ve done a good job of taking the difficult subject and presenting it well. I got to tour the museum again with Jonathan Ullman last week, and am still impressed–lots of material to read for those who want to, and I think it does a good job of presenting the story, particularly with the Vegas material.
This week in Vegas Seven, my “Seven Questions” interview with Tom Breitling is running:
Tom Breitling’s career started humbly enough: In the early 1990s, he was a sportscaster and weatherman for a TV station … in Barstow. By decade’s end, Breitling had surfed the dot-com boom to a multimillion-dollar payout, which came in 2000 when he and business partner Tim Poster sold their startup Travelscape to Expedia. By January 2004, Breitling had teamed with Poster again, this time buying the Golden Nugget casinos (both Downtown and in Laughlin) from MGM Mirage. A little more than a year later, the partners sold the two properties for a total of more than $330 million.
Now, following a two-year stint working for Steve Wynn, Breitling is ready for his next gamble: As co-founder and chairman of Fertitta Interactive, the 43-year-old is steering the company into cyberspace via its Ultimate Poker division, a real-money website which leverages the Fertitta family’s other Southern Nevada powerhouse, the Ultimate Fighting Championship. It’s the latest chapter in a career that’s already seen plenty of action.
via Seven Questions with Tom Breitling | Vegas Seven.
Breitling is always an interesting guy to talk to–I remember we have him on the Vegas Gang a few years back, I think when he was with Wynn.
This week, I’ve got four pieces in Vegas Seven magazine. The first is the Green Felt Journal, where I take a look at whether nightclubs are reaching a saturation point:
If there’s a proven moneymaker on the Las Vegas Strip today, it’s a top-flight nightclub. With tremendous margins on bottle service and measureless lines of customers waiting to get in, clubs have been casinos’ best bet during the recession years. Once a niche amenity, clubs are now everywhere—and few expect the proliferation to slow any time soon.But are we on the verge of overbuilding? Some recent Strip history might be instructive.
via Does Las Vegas Have a Nightclub Bubble? | Vegas Seven.
I’m sure many won’t agree with me, but I think it’s important to point out that the nightclub sector in Vegas can only grow up to a point–and, as with hotel rooms, when we reach that point, there are going to be some losers.