It took some time to see the light of day, but I hope this lengthy consideration of Hard Rock, Virgin, and Las Vegas is a worthy read:
Richard Branson made a splash on March 30 when he announced that he and a group of investors had bought the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, with plans to transform it, over the next year and a half, into a Virgin Hotels–branded property. This is the latest evolution for a resort that, in its 23 years, has pioneered in ways that have defined Las Vegas.
Source: What Richard Branson Means for Las Vegas and the Next Generation
It looks like this is the final piece I’ll be writing for Vegas Seven; I got word the magazine is ceasing publication. It was a great run–I was part of the first issue back in 2010, and I’m really grateful for everyone who worked with me over the years.
I will have something exciting to announce about my next writing endeavor, but that is for another time.
My latest for Vegas Seven is about “fake” history in a real community:
There’s a lot of talk about how quick Las Vegas is to throw out its history. (“Las Vegas” being used as shorthand for the resort operators who make many important decisions about the region’s most prominently built environments.) What’s missing is how that history can often find a second life that is sometimes more fulfilling than its original one.
Read it all: Replicated History in the Community – Vegas Seven
It’s just one of those quirky things that makes you remember Las Vegas is a real place with real people living in it.
I was lucky enough to interview two of the wrestlers who will be competing in this weekend’s Ring of Honor 16th Anniversary show at Sam’s Town Live and on PPV. First, I asked current ROH champ a few questions. Here’s the first one:
Can you tell me about Dalton Castle’s road from Catalina Island (his billed hometown) to the ROH championship?
Do you want to know about the ferry ride, the flight, the long ride, how it never seemed impossible?
I never really planned on being a professional wrestler. I was an NCAA wrestler in college, a student in broadcasting and the theater, and the second I graduated, it became apparent I had been training to be a wrestler my entire life by surrounding myself with people who were wrestlers, learning how to use my body as an amateur wrestler, learning how to emote and perform in theater. But it took a friend who was already a wrestler to say you’d be perfect at this.
The second I tried it I loved it, and I ended up being really damn good at it.
Read more: Dalton Castle Has Plenty of Room for All of Us
Dalton was a blast to talk to. I then had a good conversation with Kelly Klein, who is one of the favorites to win the tournament that will crown a new Women of Honor champion. A sample:
Can you explain why you’re the gatekeeper?
I am the gatekeeper because I am the person that everyone has to go through to show that they can handle themselves and be successful in Ring of Honor. If someone hasn’t faced me, they haven’t really been tested or proven. I’m the one person who has never been pinned [or] submitted in nearly three years in Ring of Honor.
Read more: Wrestler Kelly Klein Is Playing From Her Own Rulebook
Klein has a great story that I’m really glad to help her share. Overall, looks like an exciting weekend of wrestling in Las Vegas, with the ROH PPV followed by a TV taping on Saturday at Sam’s Town, with Future Stars of Wrestling’s big Mecca II event at the Cannery on Sunday.
In my latest at Vegas Seven, I muse about the shame of the recent past, which seems to be a perpetual thing in Las Vegas:
There’s always been the perception in Las Vegas that the old days weren’t good, but the older days were great. Of course, here, the past is all relative. When I arrived in town to stay in 2001, an old-timer was someone who had moved here before the Great Mirage Boom of the 1990s. Now, it might be someone who put down roots before the recession
Read more: The Past Is Still With Us: A Look Behind and Forward at Las Vegas’ history
Maybe it’s like this everywhere, but I’m writing about it in Las Vegas because I see it in Las Vegas, since I live there. Well, Henderson.
Since last night, I’ve had many, many questions about Steve Wynn. I decided to write up some of my thoughts, and Vegas Seven published them:
The news of Steve Wynn’s resignation from the company he founded, Wynn Resorts, has brought more questions than answers in Las Vegas. Most of those questions won’t be answered for some time, if ever. Right now, many people are wondering where Wynn’s apparent departure from an active leadership role leaves his company, Las Vegas and the hospitality business. I can’t answer those questions, but I can offer a few words about what Steve Wynn has accomplished in and for the casino industry.
Read more: Understanding the Wynn Legacy and its Impact on Las Vegas
I think that we haven’t heard the last of this story or Wynn.
People demand to know the future. That’s impossible, but anyone can make a guess as to what’s going to happen. It’s easy to be right about the superficial things. But it takes a special talent to see the deeper future that lies in wait. 22 years ago, Eugene Christiansen had a good read on where Las Vegas was heading:
But there’s a huge incentive for those running businesses to get a peek into the future. If they can get a little ahead of the curve, they can invest more wisely, make more money and presumably be happier. Journalists, too, like to see things before they happen: Getting the big scoop leads to professional recognition and personal validation.
The problem, though, is that the future we see is hardly ever the one we get. Even when forecasts are accurate, the big picture can change so much that they are meaningless; sometimes so many of the small details are fudged that we don’t realize the future is actually here.
Read more: Casino Future Was Not So Hard to Predict 22 Years Ago
At first blush, Christiansen’s assertion about which casino was “the future” seems laughable, but when you look at it, he was absolutely right. I
I first wrote this about a month ago. I was just thinking about the potential impact of AI and automation on Las Vegas. And now you can read it:
Since the invention of the slot machine over 100 years ago, automation has been a part of gambling, generally for the better. And yet recent developments in AI could substantially shift the Las Vegas resort industry, possibly (though not necessarily) for the better.
Read more: AI Could Change More Than the Game(s) in Las Vegas
I still don’t know whether more automation will be good or bad in the long term. There is just too much that I don’t know about the topic. I guess that why it’s the future.
My latest for Vegas Seven is some thoughts on what NFR returning to Las Vegas means this December:
It might have initially been a marriage of convenience, but over the years Las Vegas and the cowboys (and cowgirls) have struck up a genuine romance. The annual year-end boots and belts makeover has become an anticipated end-of-year rite
Read more : National Finals Rodeo Is Back—and More Necessary Than Ever
It disrupts campus parking, but it is always great to see the rodeo fans come back to the Thomas and Mack.
Today in Vegas Seven I talk a little bit about what might come after the broader legalization of sports betting in the United States:
The case stems from New Jersey’s attempts to legalize sports betting, in contravention of PASPA, a 1992 law that banned new states from legalizing sports betting. Although New Jersey had a chance to authorize legal betting before PASPA took effect, the state punted. In 2012, its legislature legalized sports betting, which was struck down by federal courts. Like a Bruce Springsteen song, the state did not give up, and that effort has brought us to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s suit seeking to overturn PASPA.
As a non-lawyer, I won’t attempt to handicap Christie’s chance of prevailing here. Instead, as a historian, I’ll consider what happens next, whatever the court decides.
Source: U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Case Influencing Legal Sports Betting
I got a few calls last week on the topic, and after spending some time talking it over, thought I would post my thoughts for a wider audience.
My latest for Vegas Seven–some thoughts on the meaning of Pennsylvania’s expansion of gambling:
There are two areas of interest for Las Vegans. The first is the expansion itself. In a sense, Pennsylvania’s push may be the final phase of the expansion of American gambling, which started with Nevada’s re-legalization of wide-open commercial gaming in 1931, intensified with New Hampshire’s revival of the lottery in 1964, opened again with the 1976 legalization of casino gaming in Atlantic City and accelerated following Congress’ 1988 passage of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. The result of this growth is that legal gambling, which in 1910 was limited to horse race betting in Kentucky and Maryland, is now the norm in the United States.
Read more: Pennsylvania gambling expands and other states will follow
IMHO, more gambling expansion is probably on the way. No big surprise, but I give a few of my reasons in the article.