Derek Stevens Looks Toward Downtown’s Past to See Its Future – Vegas Seven

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.

Read more: Derek Stevens Looks Toward Downtown’s Past to See Its Future – Vegas Seven

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.

Survey Shows Bad Hotels Make Guests Cry – Vegas Seven

In my latest Green Felt Journal, I talk about a recent survey that detailed hotel miseries:

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.

Read more: Survey Shows Bad Hotels Make Guests Cry – Vegas Seven

I found this survey fascinating. I’ve figured out that the worst possible room is one that:

  1. is dirty
  2. is surrounded by unfriendly employees
  3. has an uncomfortable bed
  4. comes with unexpected fees
  5. and has thin walls and loud neighbors.

So if you don’t get that, things aren’t going so badly for you.

Also, I’m a bit disturbed that 9% of guests are being haunted by ghosts during their stay.

Vegas for Everyman (and Woman) – Vegas Seven

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.

Read more: Vegas for Everyman (and Woman) – Vegas Seven

I want to see if visitors vote with their wallets on this one.

A Big Weekend Ahead for Future Stars of Wrestling – Vegas Seven

This week, my job for Vegas Seven is to explain why wrestling fans should be excited about what Future Stars of Wrestling is doing this weekend:

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.

Read more: A Big Weekend Ahead for Future Stars of Wrestling – Vegas Seven

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.

At the Intersection of Social Games and Casino Games – Vegas Seven

My latest Green Felt Journal:

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.

Read more: At the Intersection of Social Games and Casino Games – Vegas Seven

I have a feeling that this is an intersection I’ll be revisiting many times in the future.

Live Out Your Dreams in the Ring at Fantasy Slam Wrestling – Vegas Seven

This was a fascinating story to write. With the growth of fantasy camps for just about everything, it was probably only a matter of time before one sprung up for professional wrestling. It has, and it’s in Las Vegas:

And that’s why you’re all in a small but professional studio in a generic industrial space off Patrick Lane this morning. You are at the latest class in Fantasy Slam Wrestling, the kind of only-in-Vegas attraction the town needs to keep its edge these days.

Read more: Live Out Your Dreams in the Ring at Fantasy Slam Wrestling – Vegas Seven

To research this, I hung around for a seminar with Sinn, D’Lo, and Jake. Quite the experience, to say the least. Great energy from everyone there, and I felt like I picked up a lot of valuable advice even though I’m not a wrestler and was just watching. Cool stuff, and if you like wrestling and want to get a taste of the action, this could be a lot of fun for you.

Is Skill-Based Gaming Really the Future of Slot Play? – Vegas Seven

I went out to Planet Hollywood to play some skill games in the wild. The results, which I report completely candidly here, certainly taught me much about the future of gaming:

The three Gamblit games are easy to find, just off the main table games area and adjacent to a bubble craps game that had a few players. “Play video games, win cash!” advertised a poster nearby. “The future of gaming is here.”

Read more: Is Skill-Based Gaming Really the Future of Slot Play? – Vegas Seven

To be candid, I went into this with no preconceptions–I was ready to love it or hate it. Instead, I found myself in a sort of purgatory. Metaphor for generational alienation? Existential, universe-defining moment? Or just some clueless guy walking good-naturedly around Planet Hollywood. I’ll let you be the judge.

The Tiffany of the Strip – Vegas Seven

In this week’s Vegas Seven, I take a six-decade look back at the Tropicana, which celebrates its 60th birthday next week:

However, a piece of paper police officers discovered in Costello’s pocket while he was at Roosevelt Hospital was more eloquent. “Gross casino wins as of 4-26-57,” it read. “$651,284. Casino wins less markers $434,595.00. Slot wins $62,844,” followed by a list of amounts paid to “Mike,” “Jake,” “L.” and “H.” Investigators later determined that, over its first 24 days of operation, Las Vegas’ new Tropicana casino had earned … exactly $651,284. For the next 60 years, the Tropicana would be home to some of Nevada’s most respected gaming executives, a massive skimming operation, a purloined fortune and corporate buyouts. If any single property reveals the many facets of the Las Vegas casino business, it might be the Tropicana.

Source: The Tiffany of the Strip – Vegas Seven

The Tropicana has an incredible history–its’s right up there with Caesars and the Flamingo in terms of notoriety and impact.

But no other casino has a video as cool as “A Musical Tour of the Island.” That video makes me wish I had a time machine so I could go back in time and stay at the Tropicana. Because “on the island, the action is hot 24 hours a day.”

Mr. Las Vegas … Airport? | Vegas Seven

This week’s Green Felt Journal is a serious investigative look into who, if anyone, McCarran Airport should be renamed for:

Fast-forward to 2017, and a name change for McCarran is back in the news. This time Reid isn’t proposing the switch, although he is part of the story: State senator Tick Segerblom wants to rename McCarran “Harry Reid International Airport” in honor of the recently retired senator. Segerblom wants Reid’s name on Southern Nevada’s chief air gateway because he “symbolizes modern Nevada.”

Read more: Mr. Las Vegas … Airport?

A few additional notes for context. First, I took a look at Wayne’s schedule on his website and I’ve got to say that my respect for him went way, way up. This is a very hard-working performer who, as I say in Seven, is bringing a little piece of Vegas to showrooms everywhere.

Second, here’s a link to a video of Wayne with the mustache I think merits our respect. Good click if you like mustaches or “MacArthur Park.”

I just want to make it clear that this isn’t a mean-spirited “lets mock Wayne and his fans” piece like this old show review, although I’ll grant that “butter-fed cobras in silk suits” is a pretty good line.




The NFL used to shun Las Vegas. Why is it moving a team there? – The Washington Post

I’ve written up a few thoughts for the Washington Posts’s Post Everything on why Las Vegas is suddenly acceptable to the NFL:

The gambling industry here and football have been seeing each other secretly since the 1960s. But Monday’s 31-to-1 vote by league owners to permit the Oakland Raiders to move to Las Vegas with (for now) no stipulations about sports betting is a sign that the league’s and city’s status has changed from “it’s complicated” to “in a relationship.”

Read more: The NFL used to shun Las Vegas. Why is it moving a team there? – The Washington Post

Looking at the history of the NFL, Las Vegas, and gambling is fascinating. The league is steadfastly opposed to legal sports betting despite the fact that many fans bet on the game and it clearly drives a lot of interest. I went back to the Commission on the Review of the National Policy Toward Gambling (1975) to get some context. Pete Rozelle testified extensively then, and laid it out very well.

What I found intriguing is that he said he wasn’t that afraid of legal betting causing actual corruption in the game, but that it might cause fans to think that there was corruption. If they were able to place bets legally, he said, they’d demand Congress investigate every time they lost a bet. Rozelle’s opposition to legal sports betting was rooted in a deep mistrust of his own fans, who he thought would see a conspiracy behind every botched play or blown call.

Because Las Vegas was the country’s sports betting nerve center, Las Vegas was forbidden–although he mentioned that they did monitor Vegas betting lines when looking for irregularities.

So what’s changed? Well, you can read what I think here.