I have a big feature in this week’s Vegas Seven: The Las Vegas Strip of the Future. Fittingly, I approached the future by taking in the past:
Looking at how the Las Vegas Strip has evolved over the past 60 years can give us an idea of where it is headed. We’ll survey what’s popular in three facets—gambling, entertainment and nightlife—by decade to give us a feel for how the landscape will continue to transform over the next 10 years.
Times change. Tastes change. So Las Vegas changes.
Traveling back through time by immersing myself in the back issues of local magazine was, as always, an amazing journey. It was such a different place in so many ways. Anyway, I hope you like this walk from memory lane to the near-future.
In this week’s Green Felt Journal, I reflect back on EVO 2017, which I attended a while back:
Which brings us to EVO 2017, which took place at the Mandalay Bay last month. EVO is short for the Evolution Championship Series, an annual tournament that seeks to crown the best players in several fighting video games, one of many popular genres of esports. This isn’t the first time the tournament has been held in Las Vegas—it’s been here since 2005.
If you don’t know anything about the tournament, it features fighting games like Street Fighter and Tekken. Esports in Las Vegas are interesting to me because they show (I think) how esports are becoming more mainstream and (simultaneously) how Las Vegas continues to adapt to a post-gambling-monopoly existence. People come to Las Vegas to do many things, and gambling seems to be sliding further down the list.
I’m not saying that’s a good thing or a bad thing; I’m just saying it’s happening.
I’ve had a weird relationship with casino carpet for a long time. In my latest Green Felt Journal, I get the low-down from a real expert:
Carpets that adorn casinos look very different, but they are somehow easy to classify—a certain mixture of garish and gaudy that balances mirth with disorientation. This, perhaps, makes the public’s curiosity about them a little easier to understand.
Who doesn’t like a circus? Besides the people who stopped going to circuses because they don’t like circuses? In my latest Green Felt Journal, I explore the links between the circus and Las Vegas entertainment:
The latest incarnation of the circus to hit Las Vegas is Circus 1903, which will be performing at Paris Las Vegas beginning later this month. What makes the arrival of Circus 1903 interesting is that, nationally, circuses are at a low ebb. This May, Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus held its final performance. After nearly 150 years, the “Greatest Show on Earth” ended. Shifting tastes, particularly growing concern over the plight of circus animals, led to the circus’ American decline.
Of course, the circus never really left, but that wouldn’t make a good headline. And I just realized I used “circus” five times in that paragraph alone, and that’s not even the one I mentioned Circus Circus in.
Someday, we may even seen a show based on Charles Mingus’s “The Clown:”
In this week’s Green Felt Journal, I talk about two of Derek Stevens’ latest moves in Downtown Las Vegas. How are they tied to the past?
The past few weeks have offered a good perspective on the dance between old Vegas, new Vegas and new old Vegas that characterizes our times. In particular, two incidents involving Downtown casino owner Derek Stevens that could only have happened in 2017 show just how far Las Vegas has come and why it’s important not to lose sight of its past.
I really was reminded of Jackie Gaughan when I heard about The D hosting the Golden Knights–it’s exactly the kind of thing he would have done. At this rate, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Stevens driving around The D’s garage with a pair of jumper cables.*
* I’ve heard from multiple people that Jackie Gaughan would do just that at the El Cortez, ready to help out any customer with a dead battery.
Vacation is supposed to be a fun time, a chance to get away from your everyday problems. And hotels are the cocoons that travelers return to, their homes away from home. A good hotel experience can make a vacation, and a bad one can break it. A recent Qualtrics survey reveals just what usually goes wrong and how guests react to missed expectations. While the survey is about hotels in general and not Las Vegas in particular, those who work in our city’s hospitality industry should heed its results.
The key to Las Vegas’s post-recession rebound (I don’t like to call it a recovery because the casino industry didn’t take back lost ground; it pivoted into slightly new areas to make up for its losses), some argue, is doing everything bigger and flashier. It’s hard to argue with that approach since many of the places that give more bang for more buck are doing well. But are there people who don’t want all that expense and pretension when they come to Las Vegas? The Stratosphere is betting yes, as I explore in my latest Green Felt Journal:
Back in January 2015, the Stratosphere launched a marketing campaign aiming to capitalize on people who miss the old Las Vegas. “Take Vegas Back,” declared a series of billboards. Since then, the casino has amplified that message, promoting an alternative to a Las Vegas that some say has lost its roots. According to Rachel Hunt, the Stratosphere’s assistant vice president of marketing, it was the right idea at the right moment.
Future Stars of Wrestling, the Las Vegas-based grappling promotion that features both local and national talent kicks off its Inaugural Wrestling Hall of Fame Ceremony on Friday May 19. Following that nod to the past, it delves into the future with night of action-packed wrestling at Sam’s Town Live.
There is nothing more fun than hearing wrestlers talk about wrestling. At least for me right now. It is a pleasure to interview people who speak concisely and vividly about what they intend to do and why people should care.
International Game Technology recently announced that it is selling its social gaming division, Double Down Interactive, for $825 million. The sale could offer a glimpse into how casinos will be working with social games in the future.
In memory of the 60th anniversary of perhaps the most famous failed mob hit in history, I wrote a blog piece for the Mob Museum:
On May 2, 1957, Frank Costello thought he had problems, but he had no idea. He was appealing a five-year prison sentence for federal income tax evasion (for which he had already served nearly a year) and decided to enjoy a dinner out with his wife and a few close friends. But befitting a man the press had dubbed the “boss of racketeers,” he had pressing business, so rather than stay out for drinks he caught a cab to his apartment at 115 Central Park West.