Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

February 28, 2010

Open Topic Discussion - March 1, 2010

Posted by detroit1051

Steve Wynn wants to open in Pennsylvania, and it looks like LVS wants to sell Sands Bethlehem after only nine months.
Las Vegas Sands Corp. seeking to sell Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem


Read archived comments (87 so far)
February 28, 2010 7:21 PM Posted by Brian Fey

Wow! Absolutely unbelievable. How could guys who are supposed to be so smart, get misjudge the potential of this project so badly. I'm speechless.

February 28, 2010 7:52 PM Posted by Doug

LVS wants to dump Sands Bethlehem because it's a 50 mile drive (I think) from Philly and Wynn is going to build right in the city on the waterfront (another death blow for AC).

And when LVS Singapore opens in April it should be a big success - REALLY big!

February 28, 2010 7:53 PM Posted by atdleft

What a hot mess! And Sheldon Adelson wonders why his company was on "death watch" last year? I wonder what his arch-rival has to say about this. I hear he wants to open his own PA casino in Philly...

February 28, 2010 9:07 PM Posted by parchedearth

Their big mistake was in not finishing the hotel. It could still work even with the competition in Philly, but it has to be a destination resort rather than a day trip slot parlor. The table games should make a huge difference in profitability. I wonder whether a potential sale has more to do with raising cash for construction in Singapore.

I hear the new casino in Singapore has been packed since it opened. We may yet be surprised by the eventual profits from Marina Bay Sands.

February 28, 2010 11:59 PM Posted by Duffman

I don't know, it seems to make sense, why should Sands waste time on a property that is losing money, not completed, and is a completely different kind of property than the rest of their portfolio. Instead concentrate on the phased opening of Marina Bay, and move on with the megaresorts that they have built in Vegas and Asia.

It would be my guess this will happen with the Wynn property aswell, the build and sell part anyway. It just doesnt seem to me, with the way Wynn described the project, that its something that will be with the complany for long. If it was wouldn't he be more committed to putting a Wynn style hotel in it?

Just a guess, but I'm thinking Wynn has worked out a deal with the Mashantucket Pequot tribe and the state of Pennsylvania to put his name and company, with the prestige that comes with them, behind this project and finally get it built.

I'm thinking Wynn will end up selling his share back to the tribe once the casino is off the ground and the economy has recovered and make a nice little profit on it.

Either that or if the casino is highly successful he will go for a full blown Wynn Resort in Philly.

March 1, 2010 12:10 AM Posted by Arthur

Word on the street is that Wynn might name his casino in Philly, "SW" after his won't be called, "Wynn Philadelphia" or anything like that cause Wynn wants to create a "lower-market" brand than the Wynn and Encore brands. SW seems like a good fit...

March 1, 2010 12:58 AM Posted by Dave

Doug, it may be true that Wynn will be in Philly, but this seems to indicate that LVS doesn't have much confidence in their ability to compete heads-up with Wynn. Even though Bethlehem is a drive, it's possible that it might be more convenient for some folks in the suburbs to play there as opposed to fighting the Philly traffic. It's a hurdle, but one that good marketing and a good facility can probably overcome.

March 1, 2010 4:56 AM Posted by detroit1051

Strip casinos relying more on alcohol sales giving fewer comped drinks. Wynn says 65% profit margin on drinks.
"On the Strip, where the bulk of the state’s alcohol is consumed, beverage department revenue rose 5 percent last fiscal year. In the same period, income in the gambling, rooms and food departments fell 32 percent, 23 percent and 12 percent, respectively."
Enlarge graph with story to see change over the years.

March 1, 2010 8:04 AM Posted by atdleft

Well, LVS is denying that they're planning to sell Sands Bethlehem...

I guess we'll see if this was just a suggestion that won't be further explored, or if they really don't know what to do in PA. Without a doubt, Steve Wynn's Philadelphia project is shaking things up over there.

March 1, 2010 8:31 AM Posted by Brian Fey

A FYI for all my other fellow Wynn lovers out there. I booked a room in June using the "EARLYBOOKING" promo code. I'm going with a large group of 10-15 other people. I told them Wynn would only charge the 1st nights deposit, as they always do. However in looking at my CC statement today, I see they indeed charged the full stay. Now this isn't a huge deal,as I pay now or pay later, but it put some others in my group in somewhat of a bind, as they used their debit cards, and not their credit cards. Now in Wynn's defense, it is stated in the Terms & Conditions if you read the fine print, but who does that? Its definitely a major change in their standard typical policy.

On bigger concern is it also states the deal is Non-Refundable. One of the greatest things I've always loved about Las Vegas is their flexibility. You can have standing reservations, and they change or cancel them if need be. Now trust me, I never want to cancel a Vegas trip, but at times things can alter your plans. I also have to wonder, should the rate drop later, will they honor the new rate, as they have always done in the past? Non-Refundable, makes me think there is the possibility that they will not honor a lower rate? I've booked many condo's in CO, and taken many cruises, and they all require full payment before travel, but I hope this isn't a new trend for Vegas.

March 1, 2010 3:01 PM Posted by Chooch

I had the same thing with Wynn, however two points.
1. When I booked the fine print was conflicting...the fine print with the advertisement on the web site said full deposit, non-refundable but the box you have to click to "agree" when booking still said one night's deposit and "refundable". So I talked them into refunding me.

2. This only applies to the EARLYBOOKING code. They are trying to get people to lock-in early, but give the customer a better rate. If you book a room without a code, or with a different one, the normal one-night's deposit and refundable rules still apply.

March 2, 2010 10:34 PM Posted by LeoNYC

Viva Las Vegas! LOL

March 3, 2010 11:34 AM Posted by Brian Fey

I've never actually seen a fight on property, but I'm sure it happens almost every day. Drunk people never make good decisions. :)

March 4, 2010 1:15 PM Posted by atdleft

Well, wish me luck tonight, everyone! I'm celebrating my b-day on The Strip! I don't think I'll be heading all the way up to Wynncore, but it should be wild enough with all the usual "Hangover wannabes" at Caesars. ;-)

March 5, 2010 5:03 AM Posted by detroit1051

"In Business Las Vegas" has what I found to be a very informative interview with Randall Fine of the Fine Point Group. Fine talks about marketing, price points, Icahn, Fontainebleau, etc. Excellent interview by Richard Velotta.

March 5, 2010 8:05 PM Posted by mike_ch

While I'm not the world's biggest Roger Thomas fan (would to see Lenahan take over at WD&D), I have to admit that his Oscar green room is very pretty. Beats the heck out of last year's designer.

March 5, 2010 9:51 PM Posted by atdleft

Because I know you kids must be wondering how my b-day dinner went...

And btw, a little something extra because you're all so awesome. ;-)

March 6, 2010 7:25 AM Posted by detroit1051

Atdleft, thanks for the review. I was a little down on Bradley Ogden after reading a negative review several months ago. More on your blog.

March 6, 2010 9:27 AM Posted by Mike P.

Couple of random observations from the strip this week:

There's still no Verizon service at Aria, at least in the casino. Great work there, MGM.

I saw a construction crane on the St. Regis stub at the Venetian actually in operation the other day, hauling a bucket of concrete. The north entrance to the Venetian under the TI bridge is also partially blocked off.

Anyone know what's going on there? Seems hardly conceivable that condo construction is back underway, but maybe Sheldon's finally decided to wrap up the skeleton.

March 6, 2010 12:06 PM Posted by mike_ch

I may complain about the company, but I sure like Jim Murren:

“All of us feel differently about money and about value today than we did even a year ago or two years ago,” he said. “I feel like I’m a better person today than I did three years ago. I don’t do much shopping … but I spent money that I didn’t need to spend.”

After buying a BMW and Mercedes, Murren said he’s “down to a Jeep Cherokee” — an SUV also preferred by Murren’s mentor, billionaire Kirk Kerkorian, a man known for his lack of pretension.


Murren’s professed relief in “saving and making do with what I have and not being anxious to have more” seems to fit the personality of the informal yet outspoken executive, who frequently praises his sensible, New England upbringing.

“You’re not defined by the car you drive or the clothes you wear or the jewelry you have,” he added.

It may depend on your feelings about rampant consumerism (necessary evil, or as American as apple pie?), but I find this kind of messaging more appealing than the more elitist, occasionally bordering on out-of-touch classist that comes from Sheldy and Steve's corners. This is for a more discriminating, more sophisticated clientele. That sort of thing.

I'm sort of surprised that these two guys attitudes can't seem to be more different, given that Murren basically jumped from Wall Street onto one of the largest Vegas businesses at what will probably be it's corporate peak, whereas Wynn started more modestly with things like a Bingo Hall and the Frontier.

Also, KirKer rolls in a Jeep Cherokee? No wonder GM brushed him off. :b

Mike P: Verizon is supposed to be later this month, AT&T sometime this week.

March 6, 2010 12:13 PM Posted by mike_ch

G'ahh. All the symbols in that post were the result of the blog system making mincemeat of my post. Sorry, people. It even prematurely ended my italic.

March 6, 2010 1:14 PM Posted by detroit1051

Mike_ch, your post appears fine if one reads it as a comment on the "Open Discussion" thread. If one reads it on "Recent Comments", it has those strange symbols. That happens frequently.

March 6, 2010 1:26 PM Posted by detroit1051

Mike_ch's link to the LV Sun article also included mention of Harrah's Investor Presentation. It's interesting.

March 6, 2010 3:50 PM Posted by atdleft

Mike C & Detroit-

Well, remember that MGM Mirage has a bigger Las Vegas presence with a more diverse range of casinos (Circus Circus & Excalibur all the way up to Bellagio & Aria). Jim Murren has to be aware of the broader economy and how to reach out to the full spectrum of tourists. Wynn & Las Vegas Sands, OTOH, can get away with seeming "elitist" because their resorts cater more exclusively to luxury travelers. What makes sense for Jim Murren won't necessarily work for Steve Wynn, and vice versa.

March 6, 2010 7:47 PM Posted by Jeff in OKC

So ,is Jim Murren supposed to be a populist champion of the little people now? He personally created, and ramrodded, the largest luxury entertainment complex in American history. His base salary is like, $50,000 per week, isn 't it? If he drives a Jeep Cherokee (I assume a Grand Cherokee) it can only be because Mr. Kerkorian has driven one for at least 15 years.
Don't get me wrong, I love Jim Murren and I think he is the right guy for the job. In fact, I own a smidgen of MGM stock. The only other stocks I own in the entire world are a little Boyd Gaming and Riviera Holding.
But I continue to have issues with the perception that Murren was the King of consumption when CC was built "in his image" and now he is Mr. Practical.

March 7, 2010 3:45 AM Posted by Mike E

Steve Wynn epitomizes the type of client Wynncore, Aria, and Mandarin are striving for. While I respect Murren's supposed modesty, I have two issues with it. First, you simply cannot appeal to the sensibilities of the higher end when pretending to be the Millionaire Next Door. It's akin to his earlier statements of never having walked into Encore or Palazzo. If he can't relate to the customer that casually walks into Radiance and walks out with a Vacheron watch - the type of client CityCenter so desperately needs - he's simply not capable of appealing to their likes and dislikes. To proudly boast that, "You’re not defined by the car you drive or the clothes you wear or the jewelry you have," may have been appropriate over a decade ago when MGM Grand was the crown jewel of the company, but not now when you house one of the highest end retail malls in existence.

Second, I agree with Jeff in saying that I don't believe he's being 100% genuine. It peeves me when gagillionaires in the limelight pretend they live modest lives in hopes of appealing to the "common man". As of 2007, Elaine Wynn also publicly claimed to drive a Jeep Cherokee, but her other car was a Ferrari F430. Kerkorian's got Jeeps, but he also had a 60,000 square foot mansion in Beverly Hills of which I'm willing to bet housed a number of ultra-luxury cars, not to mention his extensive Brioni collection.

CityCenter is absolutely built for the, "...more discriminating, more sophisticated clientele." Murren should stop pretending he himself is anything but.

March 7, 2010 6:45 AM Posted by Jeff in OKC

Thank you all in advance for reading the story I am about to tell, it is one of the few bright spots in my 17 year first marraige :-).
The first time I saw the "big shot drives populist car" story was about Sam Walton in the early 1990's, who, at the time reportedly drove a "second hand Ford pickup". While babbling on during some conversation I was having with the ex-wife, I threw that tidbit of information out there. Her simple response was "What does his wife drive?" At that moment I learned the true order of power in the Universe. And, I believe, resistance is futile.

March 7, 2010 7:51 AM Posted by John

Jeep Cherokees aren't very enviornmentally friendly cars, Jimbo.

March 7, 2010 8:52 AM Posted by detroit1051

Barry Shier's "The Partner House".
"My focus is directed toward travel networking and the building of new databases...The critical key is to reach out to the international market.... We need to come up with a plan to capture more of the 25 million coming to the U.S."
I'm still having trouble understanding who will hire him, and what specifically he will do. Company's website still basically a shell.

March 7, 2010 9:39 AM Posted by mike_ch

Mike: See, here's the thing about Wynn: Las Vegas is not a luxury town. It is somewhere between "fun, though a little tacky" and "an absolute s--thole" depending on who you ask. Since Bellagio, Wynn has staked it out on drawing fabulously wealthy folks who aren't really impressed with plastic dragons and foam statues of Romans, but that's still more or less what the town is about and he's simply trying to hide it. In order to pull of the illusion, he has to pretend that his hotels are strictly for fabulously wealthy people (though that's not always necessarily the case), but in recent years it seems like he's worked so hard at trying to create that image that he may now be believing his own hype.

OTOH, he appears to be scaling down the grandiosity just a bit with this PA project, maybe. We'll see what happens there.

I agree that it seems a bit awkward to coming from Murren's lips now, I criticised the guy for taking a pay hike when the company was teetering on the edge. I will not delude myself into thinking he's living as frugal a lifestyle as Warren Buffett (who is pretty much champion of walking the walk in this regard, even when he does splurge on himself there does seem to be a sort of respectful shame about it, like how he named his plane The Indefensible).

I am just sort of glad to see a message against excessive consumerism from a casino boss these days, because I have always felt that the "race to the top" Vegas of the past six years or so was a huge mistake. Everybody simply can't do what Wynn does because the market Wynn is trying to corner is so small that if everyone goes after it, supply is going to far outstrip demand.

All those quotes come from a Fox Business interview which unfortunately does not appear to be online in it's entirety, their web site just has this clip spinning stories about his earlier days.

If I was captaining that ship, they would have opened Aria and a much different Crystals first, then maybe a year later open Vdara and Mandarin. But I'm not and what's done is done. *shrug* Though I'd argue that standard rooms in Aria are more in the Mandalay Bay and Venetian league than Wynn/Mandarin. You really can't have 4,000 rooms (and then some in CC's case) and then seriously say "discriminating members of the upper crust only." I've known this, and it seems they do, too.

March 7, 2010 9:42 AM Posted by Dave

Hey guys, re: Jim Murren--I did two interviews last week for a piece on CityCenter: Bobby Baldwin and Jim Murren. There're two very different guys with very different perspectives on the property they built.

Take, for example, my question: "What's the biggest pleasant surprise at Aria and City Center."

Baldwin's response was pretty much, "There's not a lot surprised me, and overwhelmingly the comments have been positive." A real poker player's answer, not giving too much. Now, later in the interview he was intensely honest about the problems with customer service, occupancy rates, and cell phone service, when I asked a specific question, so you could hardly accuse him of being evasive or not knowing what was going on. He's just not going to volunteer much.

Murren, on the other hand, talked at great length (my transcribed shorthand of his answer runs 213 words vs Baldwin's 13) about a dinner with his wife at Lemongrass, saying how it reminded them of a favorite Thai restaurant in Manhattan, how proud he was of the service, proud of the 10,000 people who had jobs now, proud that MGM MIrage was part of the solution to the recession in Vegas, then launched into an analysis of CityCenter was built of many layers, places to explore (echoing SW a bit with "moments of discovery"), learning the "DNA of spaces" after people start to fill them, then finished by saying the greatest thing was "the unbridled look of joy and excitement and enthusiasm on the faces of everyone which only comes from having a tough journey."

Not exactly Finnegan's Wake, but it's pretty stream-of-consciousness stuff as far as casino execs go.

There's an upside to each approach, and it seems to me that the key to this company's success is going to be getting these two, and others, to pull in the same direction.

March 7, 2010 10:19 AM Posted by atdleft

Mike C-

"Las Vegas is not a luxury town."

Actually, we are... Especially when compared to other "gamblin' towns" like Reno, Tunica, Biloxi, and Atlantic City. In the 12 years since Bellagio opened, Vegas has gone more upscale. What other "gamblin' town" has its own Michelin Guide?

Now sure, there's still a big "bargain market" here and I don't think that will change, other than Downtown continuing its reign as "low rent haven" while most of The Strip (at least from Wynncore south) continuing to be more of an upscale place with gourmet restaurants, fancy shopping, and big, splashy shows.

However, I do think you're right about Aria. It will be interesting to see what happens when AAA and Forbes eventually reveal their CityCenter ratings. Mandarin Oriental IMHO is virtually guaranteed 5 stars from both, and I suspect the Aria Sky Suites may achieve both as well. And while I still think Forbes will give the main Aria hotel 4 stars (on par with Bellagio, Venelazzo, and non-Tower Suites Wynncore), I wouldn't be too surprised if it didn't get all four or if AAA only gives it 4 diamonds over the many service complaints.

Dr. Dave-

I can't wait to read your interview! It sounds interesting, especially the part about Bobby Baldwin "losing the poker face" and being honest about Aria's opening headaches. As long as he's in charge and Jim Murren is attached to the real world, perhaps Aria can shape up and be ready in time for spring/summer pool season.

March 7, 2010 10:30 AM Posted by mike_ch

Putting aside this argument for just a moment, I'd like to mention that the Vegas chapter of the American Institute for Architects is having it's Architecture Week next month, and one of the presentations will be by Roger Thomas. It's free to get in, though an RSVP is requested. You should jump on that early if you want to go.

It's being held at an old school building in a sector of downtown mostly known for government buildings. It's a fairly clean part of Las Vegas Boulevard (things get much sleazier to the south), but I'm just saying this because I have no idea what kind of parking there is in this dense, older corner of Vegas. Most of it is probably reserved for government people and government-related visitors. There's a southbound Deuce stop right outside, so if you're an out of towner visiting and wanting to go to this you would probably be best off getting to the downtown casinos however you like and riding the Deuce south to this stop, then riding it south afterwards to where-ever you want to go.

Maybe someone else here is more familiar with that block of LVB than I am, if so i'd be willing to admit I'm wrong.

Anyway, just a headsup, since we're all "Wynn-loving know-nothings" or whatever it was that one Beacon Of Truth who used to post here called us. ;)

March 7, 2010 11:58 AM Posted by Michael Lu

Love that last line mike_ch. LOL Has anyone talked to the "Beacon of Truth" since Aria opened? Always enjoyed his perspective on Vegas design and casino execs.

March 7, 2010 1:26 PM Posted by mike_ch

I think Brian still talks to him from time to time, ask him.

Alternatively, go to the Architecture convention and look for man stomping out of the Roger Thomas lecture, muttering something about bankers.

March 7, 2010 1:36 PM Posted by atdleft

Uh oh. Was my comment lost? I'll try again.

Mike C-

There are some pay-per-park lots in that corner of Downtown, along with the BIG pay-per-park lot near Fremont Street.

Oh, and btw...

"Las Vegas is not a luxury town."

Actually, we are. We're one of only 4 US cities that has a famed (or infamous, depending on your view of Michelin) Michelin Red Guide. We have more 4 & 5 Forbes Star hotels and restaurants than any other corner of The Southwest. No other "gamblin' town" can hold a candle to what we have to offer here.

Maybe this was "an absolute s--thole" 20 years ago, but Las Vegas really has changed. Just compare and contrast us to Reno. Or Atlantic City. Or Tunica & Biloxi. Need I say more?

However, I do think you're right about Aria. We'll see what happens when AAA and Forbes release their CityCenter ratings. Mandarin Oriental is virtually guaranteed 5 AAA Diamonds & 5 Forbes Stars, and perhaps the Aria Sky Suites can make it as well. I'm just wondering if the main Aria can even get 4 Forbes Stars, considering all the opening glitches that are just starting to be addressed now.

Dr. Dave-

I can't wait to read the full interview! Sounds interesting...

March 7, 2010 8:41 PM Posted by Jeff in OKC

I hope my friends here, who are the "Smartest Men Alive" can help me. I am looking for an app for both craps and baccarat for my iphone. I would like to play craps when I am in Las Vegas, but it moves so fast I just stand there and look, while thinking I would piss my pants if I was playing for real.
Anyone got any suggestions on which might be best, or your favorites?
Thank you,

March 7, 2010 9:14 PM Posted by mike_ch

atd: There are a lot of goodies here, which is inherit in the nature of how we do things (get people out here and surround them with things.)

I don't deny that Wynn builds pretty fancy places, but Las Vegas allows you to buy luxury at a much lower rate than other cities between the loss leader effect marginalised in the casino, and his place is no exception. People who truly see money as no object look at his room rates and go "wow, that's quite a bargain." I once sent Mike a link to a bunch of fancy suites mostly in NYC and DC, and he tweeted back about the price per square foot compared to hotels in Vegas.

At the end of the day, Wynn isn't really catering so much to the rich, although he gets enough of those as to almost corner the market, it's more about the people who wish to be rich. This is part of the reason why he has to keep up the facade of "this is for the the high-end customer," so that people will in the Standard Deluxe will feel like sophisticated elites just by staying there. I just sometimes wonder if he's fooled himself into actually believing it.

March 8, 2010 7:30 AM Posted by atdleft

Mike C-

Yes, Vegas hotel rates are still low compared to NYC & LA... But they're higher than the other "gamblin' towns" and much of the rest of "Middle America".

And nowadays, the hotel is the only "bargain" left... At least on The Strip and with most of the locals' casinos. Vegas used to be cursed with the reputation of "$3.99 steak & eggs!" and "$5 all-you-can-eat buffet!" We also used to be known as "the place where old movie stars and singers go to flush their careers down the toilet". At this time in 1990, The Mirage had just opened and most Americans still perceived Las Vegas as a washed up sh*thole.

In 2010, most Americans don't think of us as that. While we certainly have our problems to deal with, we've certainly succeeded in upgrading our dining scene, becoming "The Entertainment Capital of the World", and in opening hotels that earn top AAA and Forbes honors.

Sure, Wynncore doesn't cater exclusively to the super-rich (otherwise, how do all of us get in?)... But it's succeeded in attracting the super-rich to The Tower Suites and high-roller tables, and in bringing to all of us the types of amenities that no one back in 1990 would have guessed Las Vegas would have today.

March 8, 2010 7:43 AM Posted by detroit1051

"'s more about the people who wish to be rich"
Atdleft, I agree with Mike. Las Vegas is certainly the most luxurious gambling town, but standing on its own merits, it's not a luxury place. Much in Vegas is faux and gives visitors the illusion that the city is something that it's not.
I love Vegas because it gives me the opportunity to live differently than I do at home. Maybe Mike's comment applies to me that I just want to live like I'm rich for a few days. That doesn't take away from the quality of the hotels and restaurants, but even they have somewhat of a fantasy illusion to them.
In the five years or however long I've posted on Hunter's blog, I've noted some of the weird experiences which could only happen in Vegas. Up early at 5AM in Bellagio and walking to Cafe Bellagio and being "accosted" by a lady of the evening who was enjoying after work drinks with her colleagues at Baccarat Bar. This was followed by two of the "ladies" who got into a shoving match over who stole whose John. I know this can happen in NYC or LA but perhaps not with as much gusto.
Then, there was the dinner at Picasso where the guys at the next table told the server that they wanted a $1,500 bottle of wine; it didn't matter what it was, they had a comp and wanted to take advantage of it.
Finally, one of my favorite restaurants was Renoir at The Mirage. It was small and personal, just beautiful. Alex Stratta was at his peak there. One evening, there was a wedding dinner in there with about ten people. The groom was a quiet, older guy, and his bride was a young blonde. She was feeling no pain. All of a sudden, an old boytfriend of hers came into the restaurant, and she left, intertwined with him for about 15 minutes . The groom had a look remorse on his face when she came back. Now, these don't take away from luxury, but they add a Damon Runyon quality to the experience.

I believe we're going to see Vegas go slightly downscale in the coming years. So much of the high-end growth of the city and resorts/casinos/restaurants came about because of another illusion, that the good times were here forever. How many Vegas visitors fueled their visits with cash created from flipping real estate, home equity loans and the unsustainable rise in their "perceived wealth". It will take many years for Las Vegas to stabllize, and it likely won't get back to where and what it was just several years ago.
Regardless, I'm coming back this year. I love the place!

March 8, 2010 8:14 AM Posted by detroit1051

The economic downturn has also hurt Las Vegas by making local and regional casinos more appealing. They're not the same as Vegas, but they offer a reasonable alternative if someone wants to spend a couple hours in a casino, have dinner and see a show. I've found I fit in that category here with the Seminole Hard Rock. Good steakhouse, good concerts, other restaurants, etc all without the expense of travel. Here are some photos I took yesterday when I went to win my Ferrari NOT.

March 8, 2010 9:40 AM Posted by detroit1051

The LV Sun joins the discussion of room rates at Aria vs Bellagio. Imo, the jury is still out regardless of what Jim Murren says.

March 8, 2010 1:01 PM Posted by Duffman

I don't know if you guys have seen this already or not, it came out a few days ago. Wynn putting $250 million seems like a nice chuck of change for a regional casino:

March 8, 2010 1:20 PM Posted by Dave

Quote from Bobby Baldwin that's probably going into my finished Vegas 7article, re: Aria room rates:
"Ultimately we don’t price rooms, customers do.”
And he didn't lose the poker face when talking about the negatives--he was just really honest about the cards he knew were showing.
The general feeling I got about him was, "this is a guy who's got the nuts and knows it."
Again, I'm wary of my gut instinct read of anyone who's made a living playing poker, but that's my two cents.

March 8, 2010 2:17 PM Posted by atdleft

Dr. Dave-

Again, I can't wait to read this interview. Jeez, you're good.


Sure, Vegas is different. And weird at times. But still, it's changed drastically in the last 20 years and I think we've truly arrived as a real world-class destination.

And btw, I do think it's been a slow start but eventually I think we'll see stronger recovery here in 2010 and 2011. Perhaps it may take a little longer for us to return to 2006 highs, but I think we'll eventually be back at the top and better than ever. I may sound irrational right now, but Vegas is an irrational kind of place. :-)

Oh, and finally...

Who would have guessed Prive would be late on its rent, too? Any guesses on how long before Harrah's kicks them out of PHo?

March 8, 2010 11:50 PM Posted by mike_ch

atd: Uhm, with respect, outside of the offerings of a couple companies on a three mile stretch of road, there's not a lot of world class out here. I'm glad to see the Ruovo clinic, the upcoming Cleveland Clinic, and the other ideas in the pipeland for the space west of downtown, don't get me wrong. The new City Hall seems unnecessary IMO, but you know what I mean.

But we're not NY, or Chicago, or London.

I think of us as an alternate dimension (obviously a more adult focused one) of Orlando. The quality product is mostly delivered in a bubble that couldn't be much further away than the town itself, more or less controlled by it's private concerns. I thought about moving to Orlando for a while and heard the same complaints that I have about Vegas: little alternative culture (your hipster cred will wither and die), wide master-planned fortress communities of McMansions, a general disinterest in mass transit infrastructure, and a large Company Town feel. Although in fairness just about any job at the resorts here will pay better than you can expect from Disney, according to interviews I've had with both. And I think we're slowly starting to turn the corner on half of those issues.

What does Orlando have that we don't, meanwhile? A half-decent downtown and an NBA team. We're a bit more like Louisville for sports (no pro team so everyone follows the Cardinals.) I can't think of another city that's almost completely absent a downtown, though. Even Houston, which is the sprawliest sprawl that ever sprawled, has one.

March 9, 2010 1:39 AM Posted by Mike E

Mike_ch, define what a "luxury town" is. Outside of Dubai five years ago and smaller cities that dot southern France, I can't think of another area in the world that would fit that description. Tourist for tourist, hotel room for hotel room, suburb for suburb, and ghetto for ghetto, Vegas is as much of a "luxury town" as Los Angeles or New York, and like those cities, has something to cater to everyone.

You believe that plastic dragons and foam statues are what Las Vegas is all about. I personally think they're the unfortunate remains of the godawful family years which represented the complete antithesis of the city. Wynn's not trying to hide anything about it, though. He's just discovered that it's far more profitable (and likely far more self-fulfilling for him) to cater to a niche that will spend more money to avoid the garish surroundings. Is he touting that his hotels are only for the "fabulously wealthy"? I don't get that impression, but even if you're right, I think he's being more of a smart marketer than delusional.

March 9, 2010 8:44 AM Posted by mike_ch

Mike: I think Detroit pretty much nailed it. Caesars Palace is far older than the family period, the reality is that garishness is what separates Vegas from most other cities, and individual casinos from each other (they all look the same with your face pointed at a table or a machine.) If it wasn't for the convention industries they'd probably all look like that with exception of some nook and cranny places like The Mansion.

My point is that the whims of the middle class is what drives Vegas, and it appears what the middle class seems to want most, or at least wanted most during the construction era, is to get into the car and drive to Europe, or a thin representation thereof.

Sure, people might think of the Beverly Hills hotel as an LA icon, but even more think of that stand with the big donut or the Hollywood sign, neither of which are the type of fine-art classy that Wynn is so enamoured with.

March 9, 2010 9:55 AM Posted by atdleft

Mike C-

So you're admitting LA isn't a "luxury town", either? 'Cuz let's be honest, all the crap that's thrown at us can easily be tossed at LA, Orange County, and San Diego as well. And maybe I'm a little biased since I'm a SoCal native, but I wouldn't ever consider my homeland second rate or "phony".

And same goes for Vegas.

You know I love you, Mike C, but on this I have to side with Mike E.

Mike E-

You nailed it! I don't think either of us is saying Vegas is only supposed to cater to the super rich. We're just saying that the Las Vegas of today is NOT the Las Vegas of 1990.

Las Vegas is not about garish plastic, but rather a certain kind of attitude- a Western Pioneer attitude of "I can do anything and be whatever I want!" We have a spirit of constant exploration, discovery, and reinvention. That's what makes Vegas
special, not a bunch of ridiculous fake "artifacts" and fake "landmarks".

That's why I've really come to enjoy both Wynncore and CityCenter. They may be two (dramatically!) different interpretations of the Spirit of Las Vegas, but they really show that our town still knows how to beat the odds and deliver a unique experience that shows everyone that Vegas has arrived... Baby! ;-)

March 9, 2010 11:08 AM Posted by Jeff in OKC

I'm afraid I have no idea what you are trying to say. Are you saying the Strip is fake, or Las Vegas is fake, or Orlando is fake, or the whole World is fake? I really am trying to understand, I just can't get your meaning on this one.

Hunter, I recall that last week you said there were 2 things we could to help Vegas Mate (and you). It seems like one of them was to leave a review of Vegas Mate through Vegas Mate, and I don't recall the other. Can you refresh my memory, please. Thank you.

March 9, 2010 1:24 PM Posted by detroit1051

I'll always have a soft spot for Bellagio. The property now has four Master Sommeliers, more than any other hotel in the world with a total of 17 Sommeliers.
"Bellagio sells more wine than any other hospitality outlet in the country, maintaining approximately 60,000 bottles, 4,000 selections and 250 wines by the glass at any given time..."
This is a good example of why Bellagio will always be at or near the top of the pack. How does Aria stack up?

March 9, 2010 1:30 PM Posted by mike_ch

Jeff: It's possible that I'm just having a Holden Caulfield rant.

I mean phony in the nicest of ways, since I think that's what draws all the masses. Wynn has a nice thing going on for himself, but that draws a select few people with a whole lot of money.

Of course, I also feel that in ten years time we'll look back at Bottle Service Vegas and wonder what the heck we were thinking, the way some people insist on feeling about Amusement Vegas now, but now I'm just crystal ballin' it.

The reality is that a well done resort imitating something else still draws more mainstream appeal than a five-star chef with 23 tables or huuuuuuge $800 a night suites. Even when times were good, I was asking when somebody's going to build another Paris or Luxor or something, not just in the themed sense but also in the targeting a wide variety of people and not just the limo/club set.

CityCenter as a unit is targeting a wider variety of customers than I had expected. That may be why I was so impressed, at least initially.

March 9, 2010 4:22 PM Posted by mike_ch

An unspecified hotel, probably Encore but possibly another, was brought up today on KNPR's morning show, and not in a good way. You can listen to it here.

I say probably Encore because their ongoing hiring is known to be pushing this angle, though for all I know another hotel could be doing it, too. Rather arbitrary demand, since it seems to me that a large number of people like myself (who nobody wants to see nearly naked) could be told they're not what's being looked for without asking them to dress down. Perhaps it becomes a discrimination suit at that point though, and they'd rather run the risk of asking a group of people to do something embarrassing right off the bat than risk telling someone right off the bat than picking out an individual and saying something that could make you liable.

Still, I have read the employment guidelines for a fair number of jobs, and have never seen a demand like this before. Usually what they do is specify model experience in the job posting, so that people like this caller would not have wasted their time and they don't risk dehumanising anyone.

March 9, 2010 5:53 PM Posted by atdleft


Yep, Mike C is just ranting. It's OK. He's still our friend... And it's not like he's one of those wackos who has so much free time on his hands that he posts a bunch of "I HATE THE CORPORATIONS! BRING BACK THE MOB! VEGAS SUCKS!" comments on The R-J & The Sun. At least his arguments use logic. ;-)

Mike C-

"CityCenter as a unit is targeting a wider variety of customers than I had expected."

But where's the fake theme? Where's the plastic? Where are the amusement park rides?

Oddly enough, you may be proving my point now. Las Vegas is constantly in transition. We don't exactly know what we will become next, but we know we're a constantly evolving town that always offers something new.

The theme park days really have been over for some time, and that's OK. The mob days are long gone and won't ever be coming back. And while it may be possible that the Vegas we got used to in 2005 is on its way out, I doubt that means we'll be regressing to 1995 Vegas, 1985 Vegas, or 1975 Vegas. If anything, 2015 Vegas will probably be reflecting more of CityCenter, more of Wynncore, or perhaps see a peaceful coexistence of both aesthetics with the 1990s "themes" mainly relegated to history books.


"I'll always have a soft spot for Bellagio."

So do I. And oddly enough, I think you also just proved my point. ;-)

March 9, 2010 8:33 PM Posted by Jeff in OKC

I think Las Vegas has always been based on illusion. From the illusion of easy money gambling to family fun and everything in between, including sex and drugs. But one constant has always been the illusion of being "bigger" in Las Vegas than you are at home. The truth is that Las Vegas has the best rooms for the price in America, and people can feel more like a rich person in Las Vegas than anywhere in America. And The King Of Las Vegas-Steve Wynn, is the best at creating the sense of worth within his resorts and the sense of worthiness within his customers. Although some people may find it unreal, others may see it as helping people find a piece of the American dream. I think the secret of Las Vegas has always helping the middle class feel 50% richer than they really are for 4 days and 3 nights.

March 9, 2010 8:37 PM Posted by mike_ch

atd: Don't confuse yourself, themes make money. How many people would really be interested in Paris without the theme? Look at all the people online saying they won't bother with NYNY so much after the renovations when I was covering those last year.

March 9, 2010 9:08 PM Posted by atdleft

Mike C-

"Don't confuse yourself, themes make money."

Not necessarily. Paris is boxed into a corner because... Well, because it's Paris.

Luxor, however, was the epitome of "the 1990s themed casino" when Bill Bennett first opened it in 1993. It was built to be another Circus Circus/Excalibur style "family friendly" grind joint. But from Day 1 on, it had problems. It was a hot mess.

Pete Earley's "Super Casino" chronicles how the new leadership of Circus Circus (later to become Mandalay Resort Group before being gobbled up by MGM Mirage in 2004) began de-theming and upscaling Luxor as early as 1996 to turn a corner with it. And to Bill Bennett's surprise, more tourists liked the new concept and the resort started turning in heftier profits. And while I'm personally still not that enamored with the place today, it's hard to argue that MGM Mirage wasn't successful in de-theming it some more last decade and revamping it as a "Mandalay-lite" in opening LAX, Cathouse, and Company (even if the Criss Angel Cirque show completely sucks).

Same goes for Excalibur. I remember being taken there as a little kid when we visited my grandmother. We'd see the King Arthur tourney and hit the video arcades. However, the Excalibur today is radically different... No more heavy "faux castle" theme inside, and DEFINITELY NO MORE KIDS! It's become a "bargain basement Mandalay/Luxor-lite", and it doesn't seem to have problems making money for MGM Mirage.

Mandalay Bay was probably the beginning of the end of the "themed casino", and I just don't see any new ones being built. Perhaps there are a few folks out there still looking for the nostalgia like the "Old Vegas lovers" who swore never to set foot on The Strip again when the mob was thrown out of town, but I doubt we'll ever again see the themes just as we won't ever again see the mob.

March 9, 2010 9:33 PM Posted by detroit1051

I enjoyed the Nile River ride at Luxor except all the chlorine made it smell like Iike my high school swimming pool.
Excalibur was always a dump from my first visit when it opened in 1990. I didn't like the long walkway to get to the entrance, and the casino was confusing.

March 9, 2010 10:01 PM Posted by mike_ch

Er, as much as they don't like to admit it, CityCenter is themed. It is themed to be a downtown/public square. It is not really one, it's about as authentic as Town Square or the GVR district.

They won't be as themed, but there is definitely a theme. But if you think CityCenter really is a public square, then go hold a protest there sometime and see how long it lasts. ;)

When I say theme, I think you're thinking of these big Epcot style ideas. I'm not. The Palazzo plays Italian opera in it's lobby and tries to look like a big Italian mansion. it isn't.

Even Wynn's design choices based off of Le Reve is, in a quiet way, a theme. I prefer my themes more along than the Palazzo and CityCenter line (as in, there but not screaming in your face) than the loud Excalibur style (very cute at first, but grows stale) or the "you could miss it" Wynn light.

March 9, 2010 10:26 PM Posted by atdleft


Excalibur is still a dump today... It's just now a dump that does NOT welcome the kiddies. (Dick's Last Resort... Need I say more?)

Mike C-

Well, now we seem to be reaching a consensus. Sure, one can argue there's an "urban theme" in CityCenter. All I'll say is that the architecture is original, the art is for real, and it does feel more like a real "big city hotel" rather than a hotel pretending to be another city (even if I can't stage my next antiwar rally there).

The same can be said of Wynncore, except that the design aesthetic is a full 180 from CityCenter. Hunter and I have talked about this. CityCenter is more "postmodern minimalist", while Wynncore is more "contemporary eclectic maximalist". Now I'm more of a "maximalist" myself who loves the uber-chic, grandiose elegance of Wynncore, but I can also dig the sleek, streamlined design of CityCenter.

I'd easily take either over the cheesy "Italianate" knock-offs that are Venelazzo.

March 9, 2010 10:31 PM Posted by mike_ch

By the by, focusing on Paris you missed my point. I know more people turned off by the changes at NYNY than people saying "oh I can go in there now because the Central Park stuff is gone." You also may have missed the whole Treasure Island Sucks Now period (a near-unanimous statement) under MGM's renovations. And I'm sure you've seen me complain about Modern Generic Moderne and that I don't mind toning down a theme so long as you replace it with something.

And the Luxor96 stuff wasn't so much a de-theme as much as it was replacing tacky theme with a more tasteful theme. They built a new lobby area in the pyramid, moving it from where the LAX doors are now to where it currently is, but they still had Egyptian murals and the glyphs on the new towers.

That's what I was saying about Palazzo and CityCenter. Just because it doesn't have guys in costumes running around singing and conversing in character doesn't mean that it isn't themed. Those old beautiful dining rooms at Bellagio are tasteful, but still have a theme. That's why I'm afraid Jasmine will lose the chandeliers and (unusual for a Chinese restaurant) European decor influences for more chrome and dark wood and illuminated tabletops.

Mirage has also managed to retain a theme while staying relevant, don't you agree? The only thing I wish they'd do is stop clear-cutting the rainforest for more bars and lounges, because from what I remember hearing (was the Encore opening media blitz?) that area was basically planted and then the structure was built around it. You can't open the glass dome over the forest and drop a more trees and plants through the roof, so as they continue cutting those plants down, they're gone.

As I always like to say, Save The Rainforest. :)

March 10, 2010 4:48 AM Posted by Jeff in OKC

I agree with you, Mike. I think today's level of theming is good enough and I think themes help set properties apart from each other. This may be daming it with faint praise, but, I think the NY-NY renovations were the best of the updates at MGM properties. I thought it gave it more of a Grand Central Station kinda thing, which is about the best they could get from doing what they did, IMO. Keep in mind, I've never been to New York City, so this is sort of how I would imagine Grand Central Station. Love you guys, keep the opinions flying.

March 10, 2010 5:22 AM Posted by detroit1051

"Save The Rainforest. :)"
Heh,heh,heh. It was a big disappointment to see MGM clear-cutting the rainforest as Mike so aptly put it. I know that some of the large trees are chemically preserved, but they and the real plants added so much to The Mirage. When it was still a Steve Wynn property, I made it a point to have lunch at Kokomo's several times on each trip. Sitting at a table next to the railing, hearing the gurgling water and seeing the sunlight filtered through the trees was relaxing and rejuvenating....or maybe it was the wine. :-)
Kokomo's has become a big disappointment in its current state.
Mirage Resorts stored all the plants and trees for The Mirage on the northwest corner of the Strip and Sahara during construction in the late 1980's.

March 10, 2010 8:10 AM Posted by Hunter

Hey Jeff,

Regarding Vegas Mate, the following are helpful:

1. Use Vegas Mate (or the Web site) to leave comments and reviews of hotels, restaurants, clubs and shows. These are shared with the community and make it a better place.

2. Leave a review of the app on iTunes - just visit our app page and click the review button.


March 10, 2010 12:17 PM Posted by atdleft

Mike C-

Well, not everyone (thanks, Jeff!) seems to agree on the NYNY renovation. Plus, you have to remember that what people say here and at VegasTripping, Five Hundy, & The Strip Podcast isn't entirely indicative of what most tourists think about the MGM Mirage casinos. (I consider y'all the cream of the crop, but obviously there's everyone else who doesn't read Vegas blogs and listen to Vegas podcasts.) In the end, MGM's future earnings reports will tell if NYNY's renovation works out.

And I guess we have different definitions of a "themed casino". Technically every casino has some sort of "theme" (thanks again, Jeff!), but by "themed casino" I mean a casino imitating some other place and designed as a cartoon character version of wherever it's imitating. That's how Luxor opened in 1993, and that's what Circus Circus started to get rid of in 1996 before MGM Mirage took over in 2004 and finished the job.

And yes, I'd call stripping out The Nile River, building a non-pyramid hotel tower, adding an adult nightclub, and adding not-so-kitchy restaurants to be "de-theming". :-)


I wish I could use Vegas Mate, but I'll make more of an effort to visit more of Rate Vegas. And when I get my new iPod/iPad, Vegas Mate will be my first app download! :-)

March 10, 2010 1:52 PM Posted by mike_ch

atd: MGM doesn't part out their results by hotel anymore, IIRC. They used to be tops at that but cut it out about two years ago.

Themes have discussed quite a bit on here before and yeah it seems like you have a limited definition of theme than all of us do. I think the best post here on themes was by someone (Jeff?) about MGM Grand, who said that they went from Emerald City (kitchy), to Golden Age of Hollwyood (understated art-deco), to "The World's Largest Ultralounge." I consider that last one to be themeless, really, because they were running for Palmsification and Palms was the first big themeless casino of the last decade (I don't really like being there as a result.)

My ideal themed casinos are Mandalay Bay prior to MGM ownership, NYNY as of a few years ago, Paris just before Harrah's took over (they had gotten rid of calling employees "citizens of Paris" and asking them to speak faux-French, but the marketing/design effort was all still there), and Mirage circa 2001.

Tthere are definitely casinos in towns without any kind of themed decor at all, and while Palms has endured regardless because of Maloof's connections, Bally's and Monte Carlo attract a lot of "boring" calls for their lack of a cohesive design idea.

And yeah, I read that book you cited many years ago. I liked Luxor 96 because it paid off to the people who wanted to see statues and glyphs while at the same time keeping it from looking totally like an amusement park. What I dislike is what MGM Marketing kept trying to do, which is just turn the place into a generic "cool" hotel with no period-related decorations at all.

Back when Tropicana Brandie worked at Luxor and said that management was thinking of tearing down the sphinx either last year or this year (this was just before the worst of the storm), I suggested that they should instead do what the original vision in that book called for: gold glass instead of brown/black glass. It might take a couple months but if you started at the apex and then went down a floor at a time it would draw a lot of attention. Also, I think a gold pyramid would help improve the look of the area and help associate it more with Mandalay Bay, but that's just me.

They keep taking pictures of the building from the sides or behind so that they can continue their "young hip den of sexyness" marketing campaign without having to admit that the place tried to resemble Egypt at all. I don't know why they keep doing this, since the marketing campaign for Luxor is simple: You have a building shaped like a pyramid. Ads of nearly naked Photoshopped women with arms strategically covering their inappropriate regions can be used to sell anything and does nothing to distinguish your product from anyone else's.

March 10, 2010 6:14 PM Posted by atdleft

Mike C-

"there are definitely casinos in towns without any kind of themed decor at all,"

But under your definition, are there? One could argue Palms has a "South Beach theme" and Bally's has an "Old Vegas theme".

But under my definition of a "themed casino", I wouldn't toss The Palms in there because it's not trying to imitate something else. It's its own thing, and frankly that's why I like it.

"They keep taking pictures of the building from the sides or behind so that they can continue their "young hip den of sexyness" marketing campaign without having to admit that the place tried to resemble Egypt at all. I don't know why they keep doing this..."

I do. They want to be known as the "young hip den of sexiness", so that's what they're out to brand themselves as. Faux-Egyptian relics don't necessarily scream "HOT!", but the Black Eyed Peas hosting at LAX certainly do! A faux Nile River doesn't really seem "hip", but a "Celebrity Chef Kerry Simon" run "Cathouse" with servers in skimpy lingerie offering beer cheddar fondue & crab poppers while Hollywood starlets bump & grind on the dance floor certainly does.

March 10, 2010 6:46 PM Posted by detroit1051

Mike, MGM did stop reporting results by property a while back, but they started up again. Here's the 4th Quarter/Year 2009 report:

March 10, 2010 8:26 PM Posted by mike_ch

I agree that "Faux-Egyptian relics don't necessarily scream "HOT!"" but they already have tried that with at least three casinos (MGM Grand, Mirage, Treasure Island though I know they don't own that anymore) and sort of tried to go there with NYNY.

This stuff was built ostensibly on the idea that they could raise room rates, that's also why they put flatscreens in Excalibur before Bellagio (which was at maximum demand anyway.) Putting aside that Luxor run out of money half-way through and have 15 year old Pyramid rooms as a result of turning a seafood room in the attic into a "bump and grind" club instead of focusing on the basics, the economy soured this plan up.

Before Aria opened, Mandalay was looking pretty empty, Luxor wasn't doing much better, Excalibur was a madhouse. They've now repriced everything appropriately but man, what bad priorities.

I think people are willing to settle for Faux-Egyptian artifacts, more than they are willing to settle for frayed carpet and stained sheets.

March 10, 2010 10:07 PM Posted by atdleft

"they already have tried that with at least three casinos (MGM Grand, Mirage, Treasure Island though I know they don't own that anymore) and sort of tried to go there with NYNY."

It's obviously been the model that's worked in the 2000s. And MGM figured that if it worked for the other casinos, it should work for Luxor. And yes, you're right that MGM was doing all this hoping to further raise room rates by increasing demand for the "young hip den of sexiness" they were out to create.

Obviously, they ran out of steam (and cash) when the economy turned south. The Luxor of today is a mish-mash of Bill Bennett's original 1993 plan, the 1996 "New Circus Circus" remodel, and however much of the 2006-08 remodel that MGM Mirage was able to do before running out of money.

"I think people are willing to settle for Faux-Egyptian artifacts, more than they are willing to settle for frayed carpet and stained sheets."

That depends on what type of clientele you're talking about. For people who hardly even spend time in the room because they're partying all night at Cathouse and LAX, they probably won't care since they'll be completely wasted by the time they hit the rooms. And for people who really do care about "little things" like craptastic rooms (like moi, admittedly), MGM must have figured either they'd be willing to pay a little more for Mandalay or settle at Excalibur on the other side.

March 13, 2010 6:50 PM Posted by mike_ch

The following announcement is an editorial by mike_ch.

Since sometime in 2008, we have been seeing more and more companies sign onto Twitter. It is now pretty established that any casino worth it's salt has a Twitter account, and I even saw a "Follow us!" video playing on Caesars roadside marquee today.

Let's not beat around the bush: These people may be nice, but they are doing their job and their job, officially, is Marketing. I would love to blog and tweet for salary and benefits, but they do much more than that. One of the things they are skilled at, trained in the art of, and constantly sharing strategies about is message control. Casino twitter accounts exist to help establish a message and promote that message straight into the heads of the public. I can't think of another time in Vegas history where casinos were so directly reacting to, and attempting to control messages (not since there were guys named Johnny in the back room with unique methods of getting a message across, ifyaknowwhatImean.)

These people are pretty good at what they do. Maybe not White House good, but good enough that they a lot of the people a lot of the time. And so I would like to make some statements regarding my policy on casino marketing tweeters, and what I think is the best way to approach them.

My Five Important Statements Regarding Company Tweeps:

1) If I have a problem, stop asking me to follow you so we can DM. I will not DM with you. Whether I am following you, or not following you, I will not DM my issues with you unless it is a very serious matter. If I've caught an employee acting very out of line and you want me to give you their name, that would warrant private conversation. But not if it's just because there's something slightly negative about your brand out there in the public timeline. My interest in expressing my opinion of your company is at least as obvious as your desire in keeping it under the rug. What we both want is resolution.

There is a reason why Kevin Smith continued badmouthing Southwest Airlines on his Twitter after numerous attempts by their Tweeps to take it to DM. He knew they would prefer to bury the situation. He wouldn't let them. Though his minor celebrity status helped, the plan still worked. His situation was upgraded to personal calls and public apologies, which certainly wouldn't have been handed out if he gave the Marketing people their wish and took his complaints to a one-on-one channel.

So one reason I won't DM with you is because it's a tactic to cover your butt. Another, more important reason I will not DM with you is because you have a huge legal department, and I don't. I want as much as possible in the open current, so anyone can see who said what and there are no nastygrams or threats to ruin me over trivial confusion. This is a tactic to cover MY butt.

2) I am not likely to follow you anyway. At the start, I followed nearly every official resort account I could find. I remember writing to Hunter about the first casino account on Twitter, @LuxorLV, and asking him to verify if it was legit. Since then, every casino and even some rewards cards have created Twitter accounts, and I just don't have the effort to read what they all want me to hear. Furthermore, I follow well over 500 people, and I hate to break it to you but a lot of your tweets aren't really contributing to my personal timeline.

Let me emphasize: casino tweeps definitely have something to contribute. Being there almost everyday, they have access to information and proximity to goings-on that even as a local I am just too occupied to compete with. If casino tweeps talked about what was opening and closing in their casinos (and some of them do, The Mirage's Facebook page has been pretty good at this) then there'd be no need for the StripWalk to even exist. With regular tweeting and a big flickr account of fresh photos from the floor taken by people who need not fear the firm glare of Security, you guys could do what I'm doing and do it far easier, AND pump people up about your product.

But you largely aren't doing that...

3) I do not care that other people think you're cool. This ties into #2 and the "not contributing" part. I don't know who Suzie from Queens even is, I wouldn't recognize her, and I don't care that she thinks @CaesarsPalace iz Da BoMb y0 this is crazy shit. That's nice, but the truth is that if these businesses WEREN'T satisfying customers, they wouldn't be open. So news of satisfied customers is not really news.

If you absolutely cannot resist but to regurgitate someone's tweet about your hotel, then please use the "new" ReTweet feature that just automatically copies it to your timeline. The web site supports it, TweetDeck supports it, and more clients will as time goes by. These RTs can be optionally skipped by your followers, which makes them invaluable to people who just want information from you and not copied tweets from others. When I do follow a corporate Vegas tweeter, opting out of RTs is pretty much a given, and yet I still got so many that I've given up and begun unfollowing.

4) Lists mean I don't have to follow you anyway. I have a list associated with my Twitter account called Vegas, and I put every account that I care to hear from, that is even remotely associated with Las Vegas in the list. Caesars, Wynn, Mirage, Aria? They're all in there. And so is the Las Vegas Sun, LVRJ business dude Howard Stutz, local political commentators Jon Ralson and Steve Sebellius, the city's alternative weeklies, the city government's emergency tweets, and so on.

This list is like having a timeline just of Vegas people, and I check it every so often to see what's up. You can follow my list too if you like. This means that I don't have casinos promoting themselves in-between tweets from family members, people I admire, people whose podcasts I listen to, companies that don't tweet just to say that the weather today is fine, and so on. I reccomend lists for accounts that you think are interesting but, ehh, not THAT interesting.

5) Follow Friday. Like belief in the existence of a higher being, or whether The $20 Trick actually works, this is one of those things where opinions vary. I personally used to give people a cushion of two tweets to #FF with before I felt it was too much. Although while following 500 people it meant that if everyone did it I'd get 1,000 tweets of nothing but silly reccomendations on who I should follow, EVERY. SINGLE. WEEK. Only a few accounts are #FFing, they're mostly casinos, and they're usually posting the same usernames every single week. I've seen some accounts post as many as six #FF tweets, and I'm not afraid to call them out for overdoing it. I even told the Regional Transportation Commission that they were posting too many #FF tweets one week. I passed on unfollowing them because I need them more than they need me, but if they did it again I'd certainly do it (though they didn't.)

I'm always charmed to see someone include me in an #FF tweet, but I don't feel it's necessary and just because you #FF me doesn't mean I'll #FF you, since I never make those kinds of posts. I have about 350 followers at this moment, many of which are spambots, but I would prefer to have half as many that actually care about what I have to say than twice as many who don't and just follow me because a big company or a celebrity mentioned me. You know what makes Follow Friday a bankrupt idea? Lists, again. Just make a list with some title like "Friends of Harrah's" or "Follow These People" or "Sponsors" or whatever is appropriate. You can put 100 people in a list and link to it in ONE tweet!

In conclusion, if you use Lists you can enjoy casino twitterers without having them get too close into your personal space, so you should do that. And if you have a problem with a casino and they DM, decline (politely, if you have the characters to spare) and continue discussing in public. By listing them instead of following them directly you do not even allow them the opportunity to DM you and try and move the message to private. And you will, perhaps, keep the online sphere honest about these companies and balance the optimism they'd happily propagandise with the harsh critiques they would prefer to hide.

And to casinos, if you want us to continue to care about what you have to say, you need to remember that signal-to-noise is important; and you're representing a national, maybe global brand here. Would Apple re-tweet everyone who said something nice about the iPhone? Let's not even start that high, would Microsoft? Target?

March 13, 2010 10:37 PM Posted by Hunter


I agree with just about everything you said. I've been un-following casinos like mad. They're just not putting out anything worth reading.


March 14, 2010 7:24 AM Posted by detroit1051

Mike, you've educated me on Twitter. I'm fairly new to it, and I'm turned off by the number of casino tweets which have no value to me. I believe your editorial here will cause some much needed soul searching. I hope so.

March 14, 2010 8:45 AM Posted by Jeff in OKC

Excellent post, Mike. Just outstanding. Makes me want to throw open my window and yell "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore!". Maybe I should tweet that?

March 14, 2010 9:47 AM Posted by detroit1051

Jeff, you could tweet that IF Twitter was working right this morning. It's all screwed up, at least for me.

March 14, 2010 1:00 PM Posted by Pikes

Vegas Today & Tomorrow has some pics of the Encore beach club progress.

March 14, 2010 2:57 PM Posted by atdleft

For all my fellow Vegas obsessed foodies here, y'all have to check out the interesting discussion at ELV on truffles. And no, not the kind you find at See's Candies... The real deal, tuber melanosporum:

Part 1:

Part 2:

While I never hesitate admitting my "food snobbery", I still just don't buy expensive food that's expensive solely for the sake of being expensive. And if a dish featuring truffles does not utilize truly good quality truffles and/or does not properly utilize the truffles in the dish, that's all it is. And sadly, a number of high-end Strip restaurants have been doing this to rip off unsuspecting tourists.

And really, this does a HUGE disservice IMHO to the overall Las Vegas dining scene by making foodies wonder why all these restaurants are playing this "truffle game".

March 16, 2010 8:55 AM Posted by Mike P.

I had truffles with risotto at Circo, and a few days later truffles on tagliatelle at Sirio when we were there a few weeks back. I enjoyed them both, especially the tagliatelle. But what do I know, I'm just a rube from flyover country. A rube who, along with Mrs. Rube, helped keep the lights on in some of Vegas' fine dining establishments by not completely shutting down spending in the past year, by the way.

Oh, and mike_ch, there's a lot of overlap between Circo's and Sirio's menus and they hit the same price points. I'm not sure why an unadventurous eater would find more to like at Sirio. I think I still prefer Circo, but more for the old school service and atmosphere than any difference in the food.

March 16, 2010 10:25 PM Posted by atdleft

Mike P-

I'm not saying restaurants should never use truffles. Rather, I think restaurants should show truffles more respect by using top-quality truffles properly in dishes. It sounds like you knew how to pick the good stuff at Circo and Sirio, but unfortunately not every tourist is as smart in finding good tubers and not every restaurant is committed to serving top-notch tubers.

That's all my rant was about.

March 20, 2010 9:04 AM Posted by detroit1051

Help me out here.
Click on $2 Million Slot Challenge at the following link to look at photos. Was this tournament held in Fontana Bar? That surprises me. Bellagio does a great job with slot tournaments, but the photos remind me why Steve Wynn and Roger Thomas have a lock on taste in Vegas. The carpet and chairs clash, and I'm no designer.

March 20, 2010 12:07 PM Posted by mike_ch

Detroit: There was a long period where Fontana was shut down (we thought forever) and it was adjusted to be able to work as a gambling facility. They added cameras in the ceiling and other necessary thing for gambling.

The fourth picture of "March Millions" is what chairs in Bellagio's casino actually look like. It looks better but not great on that carpet, but the main casino floor carpet was renovated years ago to be more brown and less green/yellow.

Comparing this to Wynn/Thomas is a bit unfair because I don't think they design slot tournament setups, their events people do. MGM-Mirage Events has a corporate blog at and you can see pictures of other setups they have done at Bellagio, Aria, and the opening for Mandarin.

March 20, 2010 4:26 PM Posted by detroit1051

Mike_ch, Wow! How did I miss the MGM Events site. I love that stuff. Thanks.
I used to attend a lot of buy-in slot tournaments, and no one did it better than MGM Mirage at both Bellagio and MGM Grand. First class all the way. I have to say Bellagio's high-end parties and banquets were better than the few I attended at Wynn. Surprisingly, the best slot tournament event was at Las Vegas Hilton when it was still THE place in Vegas. One dinner, they had a string quartet from the Las Vegas Symphony and beautiful ice sculptures all around. Very, very nice.

March 23, 2010 4:38 AM Posted by detroit1051

Time Magazine on Carl Icahn's casino investments.

March 25, 2010 12:33 PM Posted by detroit1051

Hmmm. Non-stop RT, FLL-LAS $265 in April.

March 26, 2010 1:26 AM Posted by mike_ch

Photos of the Stratosphere's new attraction being constructed:

March 27, 2010 5:01 AM Posted by detroit1051

Perini files $492 Million suit against MGM over CityCenter. Testimony should make interesting reading.

March 28, 2010 11:32 AM Posted by detroit1051

MGM made a presentation to Barclay's on 3/26. The slide show gives a few insights including a glimpse at the "new" Players Club which promises a holistic approach to casino and hotel customers.
MGM obviously puts Aria and CityCenter in a good light and also talks about condo sales timetables.