The Las Vegas Strip of the Future – Vegas Seven

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.

Read more: The Las Vegas Strip of the Future – Vegas Seven

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.

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 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.

A Look Back at Caesars Palace in Vegas Seven

In this week’s Vegas Seven, I’ve got a cover feature on the 50 years of Caesars Palace:

Caesars Palace has always been more than the sum of its parts. Yes, it’s just a place where people pay for rooms, eat dinner, watch shows and gamble. But there remains something compelling about the property. It may no longer be the highest-grossing on the Strip, and as of 2016 it still isn’t the oldest, but it might just be the most successful.

Read more : An Empire Like No Other – Vegas Seven

I also have two sidebars connected with the story:

Modern-Day Gladiators about fight nights at Caesars Palace.

The Birth of a Brand about how Caesars became a marketing juggernaut.

The NHL is coming to Las Vegas because America is now a casino nation – The Washington Post

I got the opportunity to write a piece about how the NHL’s announcement it is coming to Las Vegas fits in with the history of gambling for the Washington Post. Here is a small sample:

In that atmosphere, professional sports — whose legitimacy has at times been tainted by gambling-related scandals from the infamous 1919 Black Sox to college-basketball point shaving — were right to distance themselves from gambling. It was mostly illegal and, even where it was allowed, was not well-regarded by the rest of the country. With the United States nearly unanimous against gambling, legal or otherwise, this was a no-brainer.

Source: The NHL is coming to Las Vegas because America is now a casino nation – The Washington Post

Obviously this is a little different from my usual writing for Vegas Seven–it gave me the chance to address a different audience. My gratitude goes to the editors at the Post, and of course, my editors at Seven who give me the chance to write about such a range of topics.

Casinos in Canada

Casinos evolved quite differently in Canada from the United States, following a mix of the European statist model and the U.S. free enterprise one. Most casinos in Canada are owned by either a provincial government or run for charitable organizations.

Most of the charitable casinos are in Western Canada. The first provincially-owned casino in Eastern Canada, Quebec’s Casino de Montreal, opened in 1993, followed the following year by Ontario’s Casino Windsor, right across the border from downtown Detroit.

There is much more interesting material about casinos in Canada and everywhere else in Roll the Bones: The History of Gambling

Go here to read an excerpt from the book, or learn where to buy your copy.

Casinos evolved quite differently in Canada from the United States, following a mix of the European statist model and the U.S. free enterprise one. Most casinos in Canada are owned by either a provincial government or run for charitable organizations.

Most of the charitable casinos are in Western Canada. The first provincially-owned casino in Eastern Canada, Quebec’s Casino de Montreal, opened in 1993, followed the following year by Ontario’s Casino Windsor, right across the border from downtown Detroit.

There is much more interesting material about casinos in Canada and everywhere else in Roll the Bones: The History of Gambling

Go here to read an excerpt from the book, or learn where to buy your copy.

What is Grandissimo?

This is a book project that I’ve been working on for several years. It’s the story of the man who I believe to be the single most influential figure in Las Vegas casinos in the 1960s and 1970s, but who unfortunately not many people know about.

I’m substantially finished the book, and hope to publish it later this year.

Until then, I’m using this space to let people know about the book.

This is a book project that I’ve been working on for several years. It’s the story of the man who I believe to be the single most influential figure in Las Vegas casinos in the 1960s and 1970s, but who unfortunately not many people know about.

I’m substantially finished the book, and hope to publish it later this year.

Until then, I’m using this space to let people know about the book.

Three excerpts from Roll the Bones


Today I’ve added three excerpts from Roll the Bones to the site to give you a little flavor of the book if you haven’t picked up a copy already. Enjoy!

1. Author’s Note/Prologue

This is the introductory overview to the book, giving an idea of its scope—and the changes in the Casino Edition.

2. Why the Mob won Vegas

This excerpt, from chapter 10, “A Place in the Sun,” explains how the Mob carved out influence on the Las Vegas Strip in the 1950s and 1960s, and why it was so dominant.


3. The Rise of Atlantic City

The opening pages of chapter 12, “America’s Playground…Again” discuss the rebirth and rise to (brief) dominance of Atlantic City’s casinos in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

To learn where you can buy Roll the Bones: The History of Gambling, please visit here


Today I’ve added three excerpts from Roll the Bones to the site to give you a little flavor of the book if you haven’t picked up a copy already. Enjoy!

1. Author’s Note/Prologue

This is the introductory overview to the book, giving an idea of its scope—and the changes in the Casino Edition.

2. Why the Mob won Vegas

This excerpt, from chapter 10, “A Place in the Sun,” explains how the Mob carved out influence on the Las Vegas Strip in the 1950s and 1960s, and why it was so dominant.


3. The Rise of Atlantic City

The opening pages of chapter 12, “America’s Playground…Again” discuss the rebirth and rise to (brief) dominance of Atlantic City’s casinos in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

To learn where you can buy Roll the Bones: The History of Gambling, please visit here