Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

All Articles Published: June 2009

Fascinating article today in the Sun about the fast-paced world of design and construction on the Las Vegas Strip.

Cost overruns and safety issues at projects like Fontainebleau and City Center have highlighted the massively iterative nature of the design process, sometimes at the cost of millions.

June 21, 2009

City Center: Rescued From The Brink

Posted by Hunter

A story today in the RJ about how MGM Mirage saved City Center.

Despite painting a rosy outlook at the time, things were very close to catastrophe.

This is a topic we touched on during a Vegas Gang show - I speculated that Murren and Co really pulled off a near-miracle in keeping the project intact. Knowing now that they did it without having to sell any additional Strip properties is even more amazing.

June 20, 2009

Vegas Gang #33 - June 18th, 2009

Posted by Hunter

Happy to be back after a little bit of a break. Lots to talk about, as always.

We discuss:

* MGM Mirage Expands to Egypt
* Tropicana Atlantic City Sells to Ichan
* Fontainebleau Files Chapter 11
* City of Dreams Opens on Cotai

Also, check out and Vegas Mate 2.

Feel free to leave your comments below. If it's a question that you want asked on the show, please make that clear in your post. You can also send those to

June 20, 2009

Fontainebleau Buyout Possible?

Posted by Hunter

Fontainebleau is in trouble but maybe they can hook a high-profile sugar-daddy to bail them out.

Execs from Wynn Resorts and Harrah's have toured the property recently.

Personally, I can't imagine Wynn buying this place - the exterior is just so damn ugly and it's way too far along to change significantly. At bargain basement prices though, you just never know.

June 20, 2009

Oh Ye of Modest Means, Cometh to the Casino

Posted by Hunter

We know that all casino operators take their player databases and deliver offers based on the customer's profile - better customers get better offers, though sometimes it can be far more complex than that - bringing in a long lost customer, enticing some specific block. They use high-end relationship management software to pull these things together.

It becomes more interesting when an operator makes a mistake and the customer gets to see how they are classified in the database.

Over the past day or so, MGM Mirage sent out email marketing information for the Michael Buble concert on July 4th weekend. At the bottom of the offer, where it has the players name, it appears they accidentally included the account classification.

Here's what mine looked like:


I'm not sure what 'Mature Wealth' actually means - I'm 29 years old and haven't been staying or playing with MGM Mirage as much as I did a few years ago. Even when I had, I never dropped any large coin at their properties - it did make me chuckle though.

What's more interesting is that other readers reported tags such as 'Modest Means' - not sure if calling customers poor is the hook MGM was looking for to get people back on property.

Did you get this email? Any other interesting tags you're willing to share in the comments?

June 16, 2009

MGM Mirage Expanding to Egypt

Posted by Hunter

I guess the Luxor was just practice - MGM Mirage is going to put an MGM Grand branded hotel into Giza, the Cairo suburb home to the Great Pyramid.

I've been to see the pyramids and while they are impressive. I don't know if I can imagine an MGM Grand logo blinking in neighborhood.

June 12, 2009

Ichan Group Purchases Tropicana Atlantic City

Posted by Hunter

An investment group lead by Carl Ichan has finalized a purchase of the Tropicana in Atlantic City. Ichan has gaming experience having previously owned interests in Arizona Charlie's and The Stratosphere in Las Vegas.

The AC Trop was forced into sale when the NJCC opted not to renew the license of previous owner, Columbia Sussex.

The price for Ichan? $200 million - that's 80% less than the $1B the property was expected to fetch. Amazing.

June 12, 2009

Strip Walk - June 2009

Posted by Hunter

Mike is back with a Strip Walk for June 2009 including Encore, Palazzo, Treasure Island, City Center and more.

As always, the photo gallery is here:

Click through to read more.

June 10, 2009

Genting Takes Stake in MGM Mirage

Posted by Hunter

There have been rumblings about this relationship for the past few weeks, some in the context of MGM perhaps unloading Macau assets.

It was announced that Malaysian company Genting has taken a 3.2 percent stake in Las Vegas based MGM Mirage.

Genting is building a casino resort in Singapore.

June 10, 2009

Vegas Mate 2.0 Preview - Coming in July

Posted by Hunter

The first version of Vegas Mate was released in August of last year. It was my first effort for the iPhone, which at that time had just started allowing developers like me to create applications to be sold on the iTunes App Store. I'm very happy with how Vegas Mate has done since then. I don't disclose sales figures but there are thousands upon thousands of happy users and it seems to be going strong. So what's coming next? Lots.

In March, Apple gave us developers insight into new features they were adding in iPhone OS 3.0. This free iPhone system upgrade ($10 bucks on iPod Touch) includes stuff like copy and paste, MMS, integrated searching and a lot more. Under the covers, there are a ton of new hooks and tools that developers can use to make their software better. With this in mind, I began working on Vegas Mate 2.0 to incorporate the new stuff.

iPhone OS 3.0 will be released next Wednesday the 17th and I'm hoping that Vegas Mate 2 will follow about a month later. It's basically a complete re-write, taking advantage of many of the new features that Apple provided. The revised plumbing allowed me to add a few things I've wanted in there for quite awhile.

Vegas Mate 2.0 will be a free update for all existing users and yes, it will run on the upcoming iPhone 3GS announced this week.

Here's some of what's new in Vegas Mate 2.0:

* Over-the-Air Content Updates - existing versions of Vegas Mate required a full update via the App Store to get content changes in there. I've done 9 updates since last August but with how quickly Vegas is changing, I wanted something far closer to real-time. Now all content updates will occur wirelessly from our server.

* News, Promos and Events - I'm integrating some popular RSS feeds as well as info on current promotions and events. This isn't designed to take the place of a regular news tool, just a quick hit of info for travelers that's Vegas specific. More about how this works as we get closer to the release.

* Designate Hotels, Restaurants and Activities as Favorites for Quick Access - There are hundreds of items in the Vegas Mate database. Users can now mark items as 'favorites' and see them from a new screen. This should hopefully make trip planning with Vegas Mate easier.

* Restaurant Menus - Where available, I am adding the ability to view restaurant menus from the app. VM2 will launch with a number of restaurants that will quickly expand.

* Live, Google Maps Right in the App - The current version of Vegas Mate has maps but they didn't include all of the richness that the native 'Maps' application provides. That's all changed now with full maps embedded right into the app.

* Updated User Interface - The UI has received a lot of spit and polish all over the place.

* New Content - As always, the quantity and quality of in-app content has increased.

Now, it's possible I may change some of these features before launch but it's looking pretty dialed in at this point. I love working on Vegas Mate and I'm glad that so many of you enjoy it too. I've got a 'potential features' list a mile long but I always like to hear other ideas, even if I don't end up using them.

Not a big surprise given the funding problems they ran into when the banks pulled their last $800 million but it's still worth noting that this is bad news.

Thanks to reader 'G' for sending this to me.

June 4, 2009

Tropicana 3.0?

Posted by Hunter

As has been reported in many corners, plans for changes at the Trop in Las Vegas are moving forward.

This RJ story has the details:

Even if they pump a $100 million into this place, it will still be the Trop. Don't get me wrong, it could go a long way to clean up the casino floor - new carpets, some paint, etc... but let's not pretend that all of a sudden people are going to mistake it for a five-diamond joint.

Trop 3.0 could do just fine targeting the mid-market.