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.

The hit that could have sunk Las Vegas | The Mob Museum

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.

Source: The hit that could have sunk Las Vegas | The Mob Museum

Check out the Mob Museum blog--in addition to guest posts from folks like me, it’s got great stuff on organized crime past and present.

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.

Visiting the Island at UNLV Special Collections

The last of my trilogy of Tropicana birthday/anniversary pieces is this blog post from UNLV Special Collections that looks at a different era of the Strip mainstay that is celebrating its 60th:

For research into the Tropicana, one of the best resources is the Tropicana Promotional and Publicity Material Collection, nine boxes of press clippings, press releases, newsletters, and assorted other ephemera that document the Tropicana’s history. While the earliest documents date from 1969, the majority of the collection is comprised of materials generated during Ira David Sternberg’s tenure as director of advertising and public relations in the 1990s.

Read more: Special Collections | University Libraries

The Promotional and Publicity Materials collections for the Tropicana and other casinos are incredibly useful to those interested in reconstructing the past of Las Vegas–I have gotten many insights from those materials that have made it into my articles and books. And I have good news: if you are an academic researcher, Eadington Fellowships are available to defray the costs of a research trip to Las Vegas to use these–and other–collections at UNLV.

Sixty years ago, the Tropicana opened under Mob’s hidden control | The Mob Museum

To commemorate the April 4, 1957 opening of the Tropicana, I wrote a guest blog post for the Mob Museum:

It just so happened that Conquistador’s owner, “Dandy” Phil Kastel, had a long and fruitful partnership with Frank Costello, perhaps the nation’s most infamous gangster in the spring of 1957. For years, Kastel had run New Orleans’ Beverly Club (an ostensibly illegal but still operating casino) for Costello; the two also shared in a Louisiana slot machine route operation that, similarly, might have been illegal on paper but which police managed to avoid until the Kefauver Committee’s spotlight forced them into action. And it almost goes without saying that most “Miami hotel men” who came to Las Vegas in this era were more than familiar with Meyer Lansky, another famous gangland name.

Read more: Sixty years ago, the Tropicana opened under Mob’s hidden control | The Mob Museum

The Mob Museum is a great place to visit when you are Downtown. One of my personal highlights of this year’s VIMFP was leading a tour of the museum and sharing a few of my own thoughts on the history of organized crime, Las Vegas, and gambling. This piece goes into a little more detail about the opening itself than my Vegas Seven feature, which took in the property’s entire history.

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.

Lucky Dragon 3 Months in | Vegas Seven

This week’s Green Felt Journal looks at how Lucky Dragon has adjusted in its first 3 months of operation, and what it means for Las Vegas casinos:

The latest Las Vegas hotel casino to open, the Lucky Dragon, has been up and running for more than three months. It may not have the immediate landscape-altering impact of the Strip behemoths that preceded it, but the way the casino is running could have profound implications on how Las Vegas casinos do business in the future.

Read more: Lucky Dragon Casino’s Influence May Be Greater Than Its Size

Interviewing Dave Jacoby, he was really into the rolling chip program, so that became a big focus of the article.