Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

All Articles Published: October 2006

This Wall Street Journal article (presented via Yahoo! - I hope that means you can read it w/o a subscription!) talks about how construction costs in the Valley have been rising and how that impacts costs for the big gaming operators, both those with projects going and those with stuff on the drawing board.

Wall Street Journal via Yahoo! (free!)

If that doesn't work, here's the original WSJ link (subscription required):

Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

October 31, 2006

Las Vegas Developer 'Eighth Wonder' Talks Singapore

Posted by Hunter

A Las Vegas based casino developer has unveiled plans for the second site that the government of Singapore has up for bids (the first site went to Las Vegas Sands).

Based on a WSJ report, the plan sounds absolutely massive, both in terms of the number of buildings in the project and the number of partners they have signed on. Everyone from Vera Wang to Pelé to the grandson of Jacques Cousteau and a former Universal Studios cofounder are involved (and that's just part of the list - it almost sounds like a joke).

Supposedly the bid for the project valued at US$3.5 billion and will include 10 hotels with 2,100 rooms, a 7,500 seat theater that is inside the carter of a fake volcano, and 35 rides in an amusement park. Guess what they will call his amazing hodge-podge of random items? Well of course there is only one logical name: Harry's Island.

Anyway, this proposal seems more like a kitchen sink development plan than a well thought out master plan.

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October 31, 2006

AAA Five-Diamond Hotels/Restaurants

Posted by detroit1051

AAA announced its Five-Diamond awards for Nevada. I'm sure there will be differing reactions here to the addition of the 5th hotel to the list!

1. The Ritz-Carlton at Lake Las Vegas, Henderson (fourth year)
2. Bellagio, Las Vegas (sixth year)
3. Four Seasons Hotel, Las Vegas (eighth year)
4. Skylofts at the MGM Grand (first year)
5. Wynn Las Vegas, Las Vegas (first year)
1. Alex, Wynn Las Vegas (second year)
2. Jo�l Robuchon at The Mansion, MGM Grand (first year)
3. Le Cirque, Bellagio (fourth year)
4. Picasso, Bellagio (sixth year)
AAA Five-Diamond Awards for 2007

October 31, 2006

New Culinary Union Blog on Locals Casinos

Posted by detroit1051

Drop, Handle & Hold is a new blog published by Unite Here (the Culinary Union) about the Vegas locals market. Its initial entries focus on Station Casinos whose employees are not represented by Culinary. As such, the blog has its own agenda, but there is some information on Stations' future plans in Vegas and Reno.

When you go to the site, you can click on underlined passages to see
plans, details, etc. of the properties being discussed.

Drop, Handle & Hold

October 30, 2006

We're Nominated For The Trippies!

Posted by Hunter

This blog, the parent site and even the podcast have all been nominated in the Trippie awards.

Ok, so I can't imagine winning in the podcast category. The Web site winning is also probably a bit of a stretch but possible... But seriously, this blog had better win. :-)

To do that, I need your help!

You can only vote once and no point in trying to cheat, it won't help us and it will probably make Chuck over there mad. Follow the rules and vote your ballots correctly and let the best bits and bytes win.

Trippies 2006 - The Best and Worst of Las Vegas

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October 27, 2006

Worst Las Vegas Podcast #7 - October 27th, 2006

Posted by Hunter

Hey, we're back with the latest episode of the Worst Las Vegas Podcast - #7.


We talk about the following topics:

* Atlantic City / Trump + Wynn - We talk about what kind of impact a Trump+Wynn partnership might have on Atlantic City and what might possible.

* Construction Update - Thanks to 'mike_ch' for filling us in. This report covers spots like Bellagio's casino upgrades, Palazzo, Wynn's Encore and more. We talk about the article on the blog that is available here:

* What's Changed Since 2004 & Poker in Las Vegas - We talk about what it's like if you haven't visited in a couple of years plus what it is like if you have never sat down at a poker table in Las Vegas, just coming from an online poker environment.

This was a lot of fun to put together and if you're considering playing poker in Vegas, I think this is a must-listen for you. Thanks again to Phil for participating.

Direct RSS:

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October 27, 2006

Las Vegas Construction Update: 10/27/2006

Posted by Hunter

You guys have probably seen Mike's construction updates in the past. Well, we're turning them into a front page story as they are available... Thanks to Mike from all of us for providing this info and taking time out of his day to do this.

The body is after the jump but he's covering the following:

Wynn Las Vegas and Encore

Photos are linked and are posted to the galleries. The most recent RV photos can always be found here:

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October 25, 2006

Wynn and Trump to Team Up in Atlantic City (Updated)

Posted by Hunter

Is Steve Wynn coming back to Atlantic City and is he working with former arch-rival Donald Trump to make it happen?

This has been reported a few places today (including via our listener line - thanks Brian)!

The rumor is that Steve Wynn and Donald Trump are considering some kind of deal to bring Wynn back to AC on the site of Trump Plaza. That could mean a joint venture, Wynn Resorts purchasing the land outright, or nothing at all.

Nothing concrete on this topic but let's open it up for discussion. Thoughts?

Updated: This is gaining more ground:

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October 25, 2006

South Coast aka South Point

Posted by detroit1051

Michael Gaughan's South Point

October 24, 2006

Q3 Earnings

Posted by detroit1051

Third Quarter earnings are coming out. The RJ gave a preview:
Big Six Earnings Preview

For conference call junkies, a schedule follows the jump.

October 24, 2006

New Site Search Engine

Posted by Hunter

I am experimenting with a new search engine technology on the site based on a new product from Google.

Basically, we are using Google's searching tech to work on this site (and the parent site).

The search box is in the sidebar on the right. Check it out!

October 24, 2006

Butler Service Coming to Nightclubs

Posted by Hunter

An interesting story in the most recent 'Eye on Vegas' talks about how Tao at The Venetian is adding butler service to their VIP offerings.

Butlers have long been available for high end casino guests but as far as I know, this is a nightclub first and should be quite popular.

Expect this to become a trend.

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October 23, 2006

Harrah's Plans for Paris

Posted by detroit1051

This week's Las Vegas Business Press discusses planned changes and an expansion at Paris. Is Harrah's concerned about pedestrian safety, or is it a great marketing move to bring more Strip visitors into the property?
Plans For Paris

October 23, 2006

Support Las Vegas Podcasting and Win a Trip

Posted by Hunter

All, you are probably aware of The Strip Podcast, one of the more popular Las Vegas podcasts out there.

Well, their sponsor, Southwest Vacations, is giving away a trip to Las Vegas and I want to encourage you to think about signing up to win. Why you ask? Well, this is sort of a trial balloon for Southwest and other advertisers like them.

We want advertising in podcasts to succeed. I want to see more of it. It means better content if people can get paid to do it.

So, if you're interested in winning a free trip, go check it out...

The Strip Podcast - Win a Trip on Southwest Vacations

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October 22, 2006

BOOK: Roll The Bones: The History of Gambling

Posted by Hunter

I got my review copy of Dave Schwartz's new book, "Roll The Bones" today and I've started to read it. Dave is a friend of mine and I feel lucky to call him that. He's the number one gambling historian and author of several books. He works at UNLV as the Director of the Center for Gaming Research. His Web site is located here, which we are now proudly hosting for him:

A full review will follow when I'm done but so far, it's great. Anyone that's seriously interested in gambling should buy this book right now.

The link below is from and not only do you get the book for a great price, but we get a small cut of the proceeds, so you are supporting the site and getting what so far seems like a great book.

Ok, here goes: Roll the Bones: The History of Gambling


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October 21, 2006

Worst Las Vegas Podcast #6: Macau: Cotai vs. Peninsula

Posted by Hunter

This is a shorter podcast this time around.

I play a couple of listener calls and talk about Macau, specifically the relationship between the Cotai Strip and the Peninsula and how that will impact operations for Wynn Resorts and Las Vegas Sands.

Call our listener line, anytime: 702-508-4232

You can leave a message that we will read on the air. Grab the number and put it in your cell phone so you can even phone in from Vegas. Also, if you are a casino employee or otherwise have info, you can use this as an anonymous tip line to feed us the goods.

Ready to listen? If you subscribed in iTunes or another player, it's probably already downloading as it's been on the feed for awhile. If you don't use iTunes or aren't already subscribed, the links are below. If you want to listen right here on the site, click through after the jump where we have an embedded player, no download required.

Direct RSS:

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The latest edition of The Strip Podcast features bits of an interview with Steve Wynn mostly related to Macau and the opening of his first venture there last month. If you haven't listened, it's an interesting companion bit to the Sheldon Adelson piece from a few weeks back.

From the interview and others like it, we know that Steve Wynn believes that while development on the so-called 'Cotai Strip' will at some point down the road bear fruit, he thinks that time is 5-7 years off when the area is more built out. Wynn Resorts purchased land on the Cotai Strip and plans to develop up to three hotels there. Wynn's been clear that he thinks Cotai will be great, just not in the next couple of years.

Adelson's position is a bit different. He's currently constructing the first Cotai property, the Venetian Macau. When it opens in 2007, it will at first sit all by itself out there, though it is designed to be a fully integrated resort and will offer a wide array of facilities, much as the Venetian in Las Vegas does today.

I'm not asking if Cotai is a good idea or not - everyone agrees that Cotai is likely the long-term future of Macau. What I'm asking is if this is the right time or if Cotai will have a slow start until more of the planned hotels are on-line...

Will Adelson have to wait until 2010 or 2012 to reap the benefits and is Las Vegas Sands making a mistake to not massively expand the Sands hotel component along with these other projects?

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October 20, 2006

South Coast Sale Progresses

Posted by Hunter

Boyd's sale of the South Coast to operator Michael Gaughan is sailing through regulation. Gaughan is turning in $512 million in stock in return for the property.

It was approved by the Nevada Gaming Commission on Thursday after being approved by the Gaming Control Board previously. The NGC approval is the last stage in the State's regulatory process.

The property will be re-named the South Pointe after the sale is completed.

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October 19, 2006

Blog Chat - Let's Schedule Something

Posted by Hunter

I'd like to schedule another group chat. The last one was fun but a lot of the blog regulars couldn't make it.

I'd like to find a time that works for a majority of folks. I know people's schedules are tough and we're spread across multiple time-zones.

Ideally, we'd find a day sometime from this Sunday on through the week. I think I can do pretty much any day personally... I'd love to get some more of the regulars involved this time and welcome back anyone that was on last time.

So, if you can, please respond with what works for you in the next week or so and we'll try to set something up.

Thanks all!

Update: We are having the chat today (Sunday) at 6pm PT/9pm ET.

October 18, 2006

Time Magazine on Wynn and Adelson

Posted by detroit1051

Time Magazine's Global Business Section for November has a fascinating story about Wynn and Adelson in Macau:
Egos Bigger Than China

October 17, 2006

Flamingo Las Vegas Room Renovations Underway

Posted by Hunter

The Flamingo in Las Vegas, now part of the Harrah's empire, has started renovating its rooms with a new color scheme aiming to be hip and modern.

Don Marrandino, formerly of the Hard Rock (and a brief stint at a pre-opened Wynn Las Vegas), is running the joint these days and he's certainly trying to infuse his style and understanding of hipper market into the Flamingo.

We had the advance info on this upgrade a few months ago but now we have photos of the rooms that are already done. The project is set to take about a year and so far is off to a slow start with only about sixty rooms converted.


Here's the LV Sun article talking about the project:

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October 16, 2006

MGM MIRAGE Out of Laughlin

Posted by Hunter

I'm surprised it took this long but the deal is done... MGM MIRAGE is selling its Laughlin assets, acquired through the Mandalay acquisition. They had previously owned the Golden Nugget Laughlin but sold that in 2004.

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October 16, 2006

Steve Wynn Puts His Elbow Through Le Reve

Posted by Hunter

Ordinarily I wouldn't post this kind of inane story but it's so funny and strange. Thanks to for pointing it out.

Looks like Steve Wynn accidentally put his elbow through his Picasso, Le Reve.


Update: Looks like he is getting the painting repaired:

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October 15, 2006

Beau Rivage, Biloxi

Posted by detroit1051

Beau Rivage is MGM Mirage's flagship property in Biloxi. It sustained significant damage from Hurricane Katrina on August 29th, 2005. MGM re-opened it less than two months ago on the first anniversary of Katrina. Notes and photos of my recent trip to Beau Rivage follow the jump.

October 13, 2006

President Bush Signs Online Gambling Ban

Posted by Hunter

Today the President signed a bill that was primarily directed at port security issues but in it was a very clear attach on online gambling based around restricting the flow of cash into and out of the online casinos.

Many consider this underhanded as politically, voting against the bill would have then been used to show the respective lawmaker as 'weak on security' - stuffing it in with the ports made it hard for people to vote against it.

Online gambling is generally already considered illegal in the US based on bookmaking rules involving communications over telephone lines (Wire Act) but online poker has been able to move around these restrictions. No longer - this will have an impact of some sort, even if the poker companies seem to be planning to accept US customers in the future.

An excellent book on online gambling prohibitions is Dave Schwartz's 'Cutting The Wire'.

I personally see this as short sighted and totally the wrong way to go. Americans should have the freedom to play online poker, blackjack or whatever if they so desire.

Update: Dave Schwartz has written a comprehensive piece on the specifics of the bill:

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I've really been enjoying this. I'm having fun with this and so I expect to keep on doing it for awhile. There are certainly better Vegas podcasts out there but this isn't what that is about... It's more like an extension to the blog and while I have a lot to learn, I think we've been doing an okay job so far.

Call our listener line, anytime: 702-508-4232

You can leave a message that we will read on the air. Grab the number and put it in your cell phone so you can even phone in from Vegas. Also, if you are a casino employee or otherwise have info, you can use this as an anonymous tip line to feed us the goods.

This time around I talk about Harrah's rejection of the first bid, the second bid and what might happen to their Strip plans if the deal goes through. After that, it's on to my thoughts on the Downtown Las Vegas casino gaming drop and if it was just a blip. Then lastly I talk about the future of the podcast and a little bit about what's coming up.

Once again, comments are welcome and phone messages are very much appreciated.

Ready to listen? If you subscribed in iTunes or another player, it's probably already downloading as it's been on the feed for awhile. If you don't use iTunes or aren't already subscribed, the links are below. If you want to listen right here on the site, click through after the jump where we have an embedded player, no download required.

Direct RSS:

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The Nevada gaming win numbers for August have been processed and the state hit another record, $1.06 billion.

This includes all the casinos in the state but is broken out by region. The Las Vegas Strip was up 14% but as it posts gains on a regular basis, this is no big surprised.

What I found more interesting was a decline in Downtown Las Vegas of 14.3%! This is the third month of declines. I realize the Lady Luck is offline and the Nugget is being remodeled but this seems like a very serious negative trend.

I personally don't spend a ton of time Downtown but for those that primarily stay there, what do you think? Does it seem like it is slowing way down?

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October 10, 2006

LA Times on Macau and a New Rendering of City Center

Posted by Hunter

First up, I tracked down this image that is a rendering of CityCenter - looks more recent than most:

City Center Rendering - Oct. 2006

On an unrelated topic, the LA Times ran a story on Macau that is interesting, though not a lot of new ground:,0,319698,full.story?coll=la-home-travel

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October 10, 2006

Smoking in Vegas

Posted by detroit1051

This week's Eye on Vegas, the online bar/restaurant/nightclub gossip mag mentions a Nevada ballot issue to prohibit smoking where food is served. Does it have any chance? As much as I dislike smoking, it seems misguided in Vegas. Also, it's confusing for voters to have to vote Yes on one Question and then vote No on another.

Eye on Vegas

Review Journal on Ballot Proposals

"Can you imagine grabbing a drink at the Tao Lounge and not being able to have a smoke? How about hitting up your favorite sports tavern for the big game and not being able to chase your beer with a cigarette? Us neither. That�s why it is so important that the industry turns out to vote in next month�s elections. One question on the ballot would make it illegal to smoke in ANY outlet that serves food. Our friends at The Nevada Tavern Owners Association tell us that this vote could have a bigger picture impact that includes a loss of jobs due to lower traffic. By voting YES on Question #4 and NO on Question #5, restaurant, bar and tavern owners would be able to create separate smoking sections to protect Nevada�s children but also the rights of its citizens. Our friend Jay-son Low at Satay Malaysian Grill (thanks for the shout-outs Jay-son!) added his take on this topic as a restaurant owner. �This is not a debate on whether smoking is good for you or not. Rather, it is about the rights of the individual and the rights of the business owner to conduct business how he/she sees fit. Rather than dictating how a business should run, which could potentially reduce the work force and adversely affect the economy in which we live, the consumer/voter can choose by not patronizing an establishment that allows smoking if he/she feels strongly against smoking.� Well said our friend, well said. If you need to register to vote you can call the elections department at 455-VOTE. Remember: vote YES on Question #4 and NO on Question #5 on Election Day."

Thanks to Detroit for pointing out a few articles today:

Station Plans a Latin Theme for Castaways Site

Station Continues to Expand Green Valley Ranch

Finally, some more thoughts on Harrah's and the buyout:

Plus, what might happen post-purchase:

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Yes, that's two podcasts in a week... I have posted the fourth RateVegas podcast and this episode has an international bent.

I discuss the basics of Macau along with the info about Wynn Macau opening in early September. I also talk about Harrah's pulling out of competition for the second casino site in Singapore as well as our potential nomination for a "Trippie" award.

On top of all of that, we now have a listener line where you guys can call in to get a message read on the air. The number is: 702-508-4232. Go ahead and call us anytime, from the field in Las Vegas or otherwise.

To listen to the podcast, we have a few options:

Direct RSS:

Click on after the jump to listen to the podcast right here on the Web site.

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October 6, 2006

Worst Las Vegas Podcast #3 Posted

Posted by Hunter

I posted a new podcast that I recorded last night.

In this episode I talk more about Harrah's and the Barbary Coast, dig into Sheldon Adelson, and look back at the changes at The Mirage.

You can get the podcast a few ways:

If you use iTunes:

If you don't, the direct feed link is:

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October 6, 2006

Harrah's Scraps Singapore Plan

Posted by Hunter

Looks like we have our first casualty of the pending Harrah's buyout offer - the company has decided not to compete for the second casino to be built in Singapore (the first went to Las Vegas Sands).

Harrah's Won't Compete for Singapore

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Ok, the nominations for's annual 'Trippies' awards closing very soon. If you feel so inclined, please head on over there and nominate this blog in their 'Best Blog' category.

Ok, up next, VegasTripping itself is up for a PixelAward, along with sites like (which in my opinion ain't such a great Web site). VegasTripping could use your help - it's a great site and deserves the votes:

Ok, that's it. I'm thinking about what's going to go into my next podcast... Good times.

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October 2, 2006

Harrah's Going Private?

Posted by detroit1051

The Wall Street Journal reported October 2 that Harrah's Entertainment may be purchased by several private equity firms. The report says the deal isn't done yet, but that it could be finalized this week. One of the interested firms is Tom Barrack's Colony Capital which has already made a name for itself in gaming.

What would the deal mean for Harrah's redevelopment of its Strip properties?

I can't link the Journal article, but here is AP's story:
Harrah's in Buyout Talks?

October 1, 2006

Deutsche Bank's Gaming Analyst

Posted by detroit1051

Liz Benston, writer for the Las Vegas Sun and In Business Las Vegas has an extensive interview with Bill Lerner, Desutsche Bank's gaming analyst. He talks about many of the companies and developments we all discuss on this Blog. He is more positive on the Las Vegas locals market than many. To read the interview:

Deutsche Bank's Forecast for Gaming