Great show, as always. Hunter, the loss of TWHT is a shame, but your reasoning is solid and I understand a need to focus one's energies, for sure.
A thought about the Bill's/Drai's changeover. Once the conversion is complete, "Drai's Boutique" or whatever it's called will essentially be a nightclub/dayclub with 200 hotel rooms, more or less. It won't have a whole lot else to offer -- the property is too small to have more than one or two restaurants, for example.
And so, someone like me, not interested in the nightclub scene, probably won't ever set foot inside. And that's OK. I prefer not to interact with d-bags whenever possible, so I'll stay away.
Contrast this with Wynncore or Cosmo, which have other points of interest, and so those of us interested in the hotel room product, the restaurants, the casino, etc. in those properties have to fight through the d-bag crowd. People that stay at Wynn, Encore, Cosmo, etc. have to deal with nightclub noise from certain floors/towers.
I like the idea of a hotel solely for d-bags. Maybe it will draw some of them away from Cosmo, Wynncore, Venetian/Palazzo? Or maybe that's just wishful thinking.
It will, of course, affect its neighbors, especially Flamingo. I have stayed there a dozen plus times, several times in south-facing rooms, looking over the top of Bill's towards the Bellagio and the south Strip. Those rooms will have a big liability once the rooftop club opens next door. Sigh.
Thank you for having this site. I've been a very avid reader and have commented a couple times over the past years. I found your site through another Vegas blog that has since gone dark as well. It was my connection back to the city after leaving in 2007. I am proud to say I use to work for Wynn, was there when the whole thing happened to La Reve and used to speak to him and others every Saturday morning. Thanks for the memories.
Chris Hall and others have made some very good comments about your blog. Lots and lots of good information over the years and also the people who make comments here have made a great contribution to this blog. With not much construction on the Strip any more (Project Linq and maybe Sahara) it must have been hard to keep this going. Who knows, maybe there will be some more casino projects in the near future.
Your blog did an excellent job of talking about and discussing in depth five brand new casinos in Las Vegas which costs over $19 billion dollars to build since 2005 and in my lifetime (I am 46 years old) Las Vegas will never see that again. Here we go:
Wynn $2.7 billion dollars
Palazzo $1.9 billion dollars
Encore $2.3 billion dollars
City Center $8.5 billion dollars
Cosmopolitan $3.9 billion dollars
Unfortunately the recession started around September of 2008 and projects of this cost and size don't make economic sense any more but you have to give these casino operators credit for taking a chance to try and build the best (and most expensive) casinos in the world.
I have read this blog for several years now and I always enjoyed its specific take on Vegas. Jeff Simpson's passing was very sad and I can understand how it would have impacted on your enthusiasm and willingness to continue. You should be proud of what you accomplished with the blog.
Thanks to you and Dr. Dave for your many stimulating posts and ideas. Best wishes with all the other projects you are pursuing.
Sad to learn of the demise of one of my favorite websites. While I may be in the minority, I hate to see everything I love migrate to social media where thorough discussion is limited to 150 characters and everything is temporary. Hunter, I hope you chose to leave this blog up as an archive in some form for the long term. The history contained within is unbelievable. Imagine if we had a blog like this from when they were building the Sands, Stardust, and Sahara! The contents of that blog would be in the UNLV special archives! I look forward to one day being able to take my kids and grandkids to Encore, Cosmo, Aria, and Palazzo when they're grown...and tell them that I was one of the first people through the doors at Aria, or that I consumed the very first rum and coke served to the general public at Chandelier. I'll be able to go right to the blog posts and show them the construction process, and all the speculation and discussion surrounding each one of these wonderful places. I still love going back a few years and reading the archives on this site...seeing what has changed, and what we thought would change. I love reading the comments of a highly intelligent and informed community of people that are as passionate about my favorite city as I am. This blog is a treasure, and I hope it remains in archive form for us history nerds. Thank you Admiral for creating this wonderful community and all the time, sweat, blood, and tears that have come along with it. We look forward to whatever is next.
I have listened a couple times to this great episode and want to thank you guys for another top notch effort.
I hope to comment more than once on this show as the thoughts come to me, but the most important thing I want to say now is that you three have recovered from the loss of a year ago, and have a great flow amongst yourselves. I thought this a couple weeks ago while I was listening to a recent episode, but I forgot to comment then (and regret it now).
A thought regarding the Bill's changeover is wondering why Caesars isn't utilizing George Maloof in some key fashion? Seems to me that he almost single-handedly created the populist beautiful people segment of the last decade. And not using him reflects the typical arrogance of the Loveman regime.
Listening to Vegas Gang #85 now. I agree that Twitter has contributed to your decision. I'm part of the problem. Twitter has dumbed me down because of 140 character limit. Makes me lazy. I'm randomly reading TWHT archived topics again. Fun.
Thoroughly agree with @chuckmonster on Las Vegas Hilton. What a great property at one time. My fav in the late 80s.
Aaron, no matter how big the projects are (see CityCenter, Encore, etc.) pedestrian flow is maintained. Over the past 10 years of visiting Vegas, I've never seen pedestrian flow forced to cross and continue on the other side of the street. It may be claustrophobic, it may involve plywood tunnels, but there's always a way to walk from A to B.
For example, walking from Flamingo to Harrah's now (or at least, when I was there in September) involved a plywood tunnel that occupied the right lane of LV Blvd, with a single entrance into IP/Quad along the way.
The area between Bill's and Flamingo is a bit tighter, with the pedestrian overpasses and Flamingo Road intersection right there. Still, I'd be stunned if Caesars/Clark County didn't maintain a pedestrian right of way between Flamingo and Bally's on the east side of the Strip.
After all, if they close the sidewalk, where will drunken Mickey Mouse and Sponge Bob hang out? :D
I would appreciate any comments on the Linq project; especially how construction will affect pedestrian traffic in 2013. I see that Bill's is closing in early 2013 for extensive remodeling. Combined with the Linq construction, will it even be possible to walk from Harrah's to Bally's? I'm sure anyone planning a trip in 2013 would appreciate your tips in this regard on where to stay to avoid hassles. Thanks.
Difficult. For one, the building isn't really finished--the Boardwalk retail area isn't done. If finished, it would draw pedestrian traffic from neighboring casinos. But doing that would require money, and who wants to invest in a casino in a declining market that's losing money?
^ Interesting. I know that MGM was able to get enough return from their policies to mitigate the fire-related shutdown of Monte Carlo and the blackout-related shutdown of Bellagio. At least that's what they said in their filings.
I think the odds of Wynn taking it on are pretty long, mostly for the reasons Detroit has pointed out.
Revel's a lot like Cosmopolitan and CityCenter--designed for a market that no longer exists. I wouldn't be surprised in AC revenues are well below $3 billion in 2012, meaning that the market has declined by more than 40% since 2006. I'm frankly amazed that the casinos there have been so tenacious.
I'll repeat what I've been saying for the last ten years: the days of running that city as a collective slot machine day-tripping destination are gone. Forever. Never coming back. To survive, the city really has to do something different.
Jeff, I'm no expert on AC, but I'd be surprised if Revel succeeds or the city ever comes back. Too many other gaming options in the area. It seems to me that the entire NE part of the country has become a huge locals market, not a vacation destination. Sands Bethlehem has 3,000 slots and 183 tables. That's more than Revel.
Steve Wynn could become the leader on the river in Philadelphia's limited market, just as MGM Grand did in the Detroit market., I think Wynn wants and needs to be in a big urban center with air accessibility. Although AC is only 60 miles away, it's a hassle to fly into PHL and then have another hour's drive to AC.
Speaking of Christmas, Bellagio's Conservatory is already undergoing the changeover for Christmas. It's fun to watch the transformation at http://www.earthcam.com/client/bellagio/ . Should be done by December 1st.
Here's my crackpot theory about Revel: it has been a money pit from the beginning (I recall one investor wrote off a billion dollars before construction begn and walked away) and the current operator has no chance of making it work. I think the only person who can create the cache that'll make it work is Steve Wynn.
We were reminded within the last couple weeks that Mr. Wynn (a.) is Interested in the East Coast market again, and (b.) wanted to buy the Mandalay Mile a couple years ago. (The importance of which is that he wanted to buy a business he did not design.) I envision where the holders of the Revel debt decide that Wynn can get them some equity back on their investment and this could be much less costly to Wynn as a way to re-enter the market. As well as much quicker.
I know very little about the Revel and Atlantic City situation, so I hope someone with real knowledge will comment about this.
Listening for the second time and had a quick observation, before I forget again.
Dr. Dave mentioned business interruption insurance at the Atlantic City casinos. I must emphasize my shop is a very small fish, but we learned the hard way after our fires a couple years ago that collecting on business interruption insurance, or any "destructive event" coverage is EXTREMELY difficult. The net return after premium expense before the event, administrative wormhole and carrier beat down is probably 40% of what would be expected before the entire process began. We got our final payment 1 day before the statute of limitations expired and our business interruption coverage was impossible to calculate because we chose to operate in any fashion for the first couple weeks after the fires.
It'll be interesting to see what the table minimums are for Maryland Live and the two forthcoming places that John mentioned in Baltimore and National Harbor. I've been to Charles Town twice since the tables were introduced there two years ago and the cheapest blackjack table I've seen was $15. What a joke.
I will comment on AC, but first, what an informative comment about Maryland from John. Thanks.
I agree that Hurricane Sandy added to Atlantic City's problems and will slow any improvement in business for some time to come, if such improvement were really on the horizon at all. Isn't Las Vegas on the same trajectory as AC except maybe ten years behind? The recession is still not over in many people's lives, and the source of a third(?) of Vegas' business, California, seems to be in a weakened position. Not to get political, but California appears to be becoming a land of the wealthy and the poor, with the middle class being squeezed out. If that is correct, Vegas will continue to have a hard time recovering. And, California has always led the direction of the rest of the country. If the middle class shrinks in the other 49 states, how can Vegas get back to the prosperity of 2007?
Even if the above thought is debunked (and, I hope it is), the growth of regional casinos throughout the country has to have an increasingly negative effect on the success of Vegas, especially with rising travel costs and hidden costs such as "resort fees." Getting back to Atlantic City, if Steve Wynn does build Wynn Philadelphia, it diminishes the reasons for locals to drive to AC or for others to fly into PHL and drive the 60 miles to the boardwalk casinos.
I am a resident of Maryland, regular listener to the Vegas Gang, and frequent visitor to Las Vegas. Your discussion of Maryland's casino referendum left out a very important player, Caesars Entertainment. Caesars invested heavily in the campaign along with MGM against Penn. Caesars has had a deal worked out wherein it would get a gaming license if the referendum passes. Caesars will now build a Horseshoe casino in downtown Baltimore next to the Baltimore Ravens' Stadium. Horseshoe Baltimore is expected to cost $400 million and open in the middle of 2014. It will employ at least 1,700 people at the casino. Combined, the three gaming companies spent $90 million, the largest amount ever spent on a referendum in Maryland history. Caesars'Horseshoe and MGM's planned National Harbor casino adjacent to Washington, DC, will be approximately 42 miles apart. In between the two lies Baltimore's and the DC's most affluent bedroom communities in Howard and Montgomery counties. These rank among the wealthiest per capita communities in the United States. The the two cities' combined metro area population is over 8.9 million. The referendum was for casino expansion (Baltimore and National Harbor) and for table games in the state's casinos (slot machines were only allowed until the passage of the referendum). Maryland Live announced yesterday it will be have table games and a poker room by springtime and move to 24 hours day operations. Penn's West Virginia casino is a very difficult hour and half drive with two lane roads through hills (with ice in the winter) from either Baltimore and DC. It may as well close shop once the new casinos open up.
Detroit, his statements throughout the thread give rise to my concerns. Statements such as "All my fears from years ago have come to pass, the college boy gamers spent billions building on the Strip...", "I'm a retired venture capital guy", "don't you miss the good old days when the hot money college boys took, prim, mir, and azr from us at huge premiums..."
Jeff, I'm confused. You were unhappy about my friend's original comments ("I read the original post as being: An old guy who lives in Las Vegas and made a lot of money on financial deals that have helped make the Strip the high overhead place it is and now wants to complain about it."), but you seem to echo many of his opinions about the Strip. I don't believe he did anything to make the Strip overpriced, but you and he agree that it is. Anyway, I enjoyed your comment. I agree with you on self-parking at CP. It's a long walk, almost like a maze.
The original posting here was about the most bothersome I've read on TWHT. I tried to comment about 3 times and always washed it out for fear of appearing too mean spirited.
I read the original post as being: An old guy who lives in Las Vegas and made a lot of money on financial deals that have helped make the Strip the high overhead place it is and now wants to complain about it.
Having recently been to VIMFP I want to add a chapter as: The Center Strip Is Finished!
We stayed at Caesars Palace in an Augustus Tower room. About the 28th floor IIRC. I think the floor numbers start at about 20, so it was really about the 8th floor. Had a fountain view, but at 8 floors it didn't really have much of a view of the fountainsand was partially blocked by the walkway from the Bellagio to LVB. Paid about $350 a night. It was a nice room, but was in no way outstanding or something that was any better than a kinda premium room in any big city in America. Not as nice as the room we had at Aria during our February trip and not as nice as any WynnCore room we've ever had. TV channel selection was average. Appeared valet was for VIP only, so we had to park in the garage on the other side of the property-a long trek. We got bumped from the room we originally booked (to many Diamond players showed up was the story we got) and the poor desk clerk had to really work the keyboard to put us in a smoking room. We don't smoke, but were thankful to get it by then.
Breakfast was always some kinda sweetroll from the food court ($2.50), bottled water was $3 and beer was $4 or $5 across the property. We never ate anywhere else on property and gambled slightly. We felt like every price we saw at Caesars was the highest we could possibly expect. THERE WAS ZERO EXPECTATION OF VALUE. To be clear, we never felt that we got gouged, just "maximized for the market conditions". Much the same was true throughout the "Center Strip" area (I would describe it as everything on LVB between WynnCore to the North and MGM Grand/NY-NY to the South) with only a few exceptions.
I have this mindset that some tourist areas in America are "Once in a Lifetime" places. Places like Disneyland, Universal Studios, Walt Disney World, Times Square, The Mall in Washington D.C., etc. These are areas where I expect to pay a lot of money for everything, but I will have a memorable experience that will justify the cost. My issue now is that I feel like the Center Strip is an area that is priced like those places but is not that kind of special experience.
My question is this: Who is out of touch, me or the Center Strip operators? We work hard at our little business here in Oklahoma City and are happiest if we can afford to escape 3 or 4 times a year to Las Vegas. I find it hard to justify the cost of the Center Strip and we are forced to stay more often North Strip, off Strip or downtown. We have already changed our habits to where we know not to gamble on the Center Strip, rather we use it for shows, some shopping and value props like Bill's or Casino Royale. I think we are more like the California, several time a year visitor, than the Once in a Lifetime visitor. But is the overall 39 million visitor a year market able to separate itself into different segments and price them accordingly? And if so, have the issues of crowding, price and overall enjoyment begun to create a negative experience that is not turning the Once in a Lifetime visitor into the return visitor?
We had a brief chat with him at the end of the bar at the Golden Gate on Thursday night. Hes very tuned into the business, we mentioned that we just returned from playing golf in Mesquite and staying at Casablanca and he mentioned that Michael Gaughn just bought the place
Derek Stevens is the real deal; I had some doubts when he named his latest "The D," but the more I hear this guy talk, the bigger the fan I become. He's turned the Golden Gate around and hope one day to shake his hand and say "Thank you for what you've done for Vegas."
Derek Stevens was a great guest, a true fanboy as Dr. Dave described him. Great questions by Hunter, and Derek gave honest non-suit type answers. Interesting take on Detroit casinos and how different a limited market is from Vegas.
Big fan. The guy came over to shake our hands and talk to us when we checked in with our #VIMFP passes - on a very busy opening night. That was pretty cool of him. Not to mention he throws a hell of a party!
Derek Stevens is another great example of why we need more independent casino operators in Vegas. The more I think about it, the more I believe they are the only ones that can get Vegas back to where it needs to be.
I gave the guy who asked us if we had any plans for the evening a balloon-painting tirade he won't ever forget. He thought he was going to get us to a strip club, and instead he got a rant on stingy cap ex spending by Harrah's. Amazing.
Martorano’s is now our favorite Italian restaurant in Vegas, I had the veal picatta she had the special of the night, a pasta dish, plus locals are getting 25 % off which we didn’t know. Great food , great service, well done.
I have been going to Spinner concerts for over 30 years. To be fair the mikes were going in and out so they were having serious equipment issues but still, the worst concert experience of our life. The lead is an original its way past time to use a young blood as the front man. IF anyone paid I hope they were offered a refund and I hope the M re thinks who it books and the quality of the shows.
I took 8 people all first timers except me and d. The first week dinner was 32 $$ a person, great value. Now lunch is 30 $$ dinner is 44 $$. The quality and experience was still great but I wanted to update the prices.
Another great show, as usual. Thanks for your hard work and dedication. I am energized by the knowledge that I will be able to bask in the light of your collective Glory in a few, short days. VIMFP!
I didn't go to college. Not a single class. It isn't much of an exaggeration to say the total of my campus experience involves Oklahoma Sooners football games. This means I see The Quad name in a completely different light. I don't have any emotional or experiential response. It just seems like a blank, civic arena from the 70s, like the Omni (Atlanta), Myriad (OKC) or Pyrimad(Memphis). I hope Dr. Dave is right and it is just a short term placeholder. I wonder how large a percentage of the customer base of that property is not college educated?