Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

All Articles Published: February 2009

February 26, 2009

Vegas Gang #27 - February 26th, 2009

Posted by Hunter

We're back with another episode! It can be downloaded here.

This time around we discuss:

* Boyd Offers to Buy Station Assets
* Wynn Resorts Q4 2008
* iPhone Card Counting Software Makes the Rounds
* 2008 Gaming Abstract Figures
* M Resort Opens Sunday

Feel free to leave your comments below.

February 24, 2009

Wynn Resorts Q4 Results: Down But Not Out

Posted by Hunter

Wynn Resorts has released their financials for Q4 2008:

Not great, as expected. Still, not terrible. For the quarter, adjusted net income was $7.6 million, down from $82 million a year ago. Most of this decline is due to Las Vegas as Wynn Macau saw an uptick. They also took a tax charge, bringing the GAAP earnings for Q4 to a loss of $159.9 million.

While only online for a little more than a week in 2008, we get our first peek at how the company will be reporting Encore. It seems that they will not be breaking the WLV/Encore numbers apart. For the Las Vegas complex ADR was $281 and REVPAR was $224. Occupancy was down to 79.7% for the quarter - incredibly low.

Wynn Macau seems to be humming along nicely with a 35.6% revenue bump over 2007.

All the details are in the press release linked above.

February 23, 2009

MGM Mirage and Cosmo in Deutsche Wedding?

Posted by Hunter

Thanks to reader Anthony who pointed out this breaking story... It appears that the rumors may have some truth to them - this has been floating around for a few weeks without any substantiation.

It seems that Deutsche Bank may be looking to extricate themselves from the situation they find themselves in with Cosmopolitan by offering to help finance the rest of MGM's City Center project.

February 23, 2009

City Center Starts Taking Reservations for ARIA

Posted by Hunter

ARIA, the main hotel component at City Center, is taking reservations starting today. The first night for regular guests is December 17.

The Web site for bookings, which also contains some new renderings of the property and rooms is here:

Rates for opening night are currently at $299 (ouch) for what is normally a very very slow week in town. We'll see if those come down.

Reservations for Vdara, the condo hotel next to ARIA, are expected to open today as well [online here - thanks Mike P!] for dates starting in October. Not sure what it will be like to stay in what will still be a construction site in the delta between those two openings.

This is the first opening of a [ed: Las Vegas] hotel for MGM Mirage since the company was combined in 2000.

February 22, 2009

LVSun: Fontainebleau May Run Into Problems Post Open

Posted by Hunter

Not a new story but I've been out of commission for the past 36 hours... Looks like some analysts believe that Fontainebleau may run into some cash issues post open, later this year.

Of course, we here and pretty much everyone else, everywhere else has been saying this too.

February 17, 2009

Strip Walk - February 2009

Posted by Hunter

Mike's back with another Strip Walk column. He's got some photo links in his post but if you want to see the entire gallery, click here:

Continue after the jump to get your Vegas fix.

February 15, 2009

RJ: iPhone Used for Card Counting?

Posted by Hunter

An interesting note in the 'Inside Gaming' column today - it seems that the Nevada Gaming Control Board is looking into reports that software for the iPhone and iPod Touch could potentially be used to cheat in casinos at games like Blackjack. Counting is not illegal in Nevada but using an electronic device to aid is.

There are many 21 training programs available on the iTunes Store, some that do include a 'counting feature'.

There's even some vague implication that the phones could be banned - which would be useless... All the various smartphones allow downloadable applications, not just the iPhone - that's nothing new. As they become more and more popular, customers will not stand for not being able to use their phones in casinos.

Game protection is important but these guys need to figure out how to do it without pissing the customer off.

Oh, and IG: iTunes is not a Web site, BTW.

BTW, if you're looking for something fun to do with your iPhone or iPod Touch, consider Vegas Mate (card counting not included)!

February 14, 2009

Trump Resigns from Trump

Posted by Hunter

Looks like The Donald has resigned from the board of the casino company that bears his name, ahead of a potential involuntary bankruptcy:

[Insert Apprentice Joke Here]

Trump Ent market cap is in the $7.8 million range (!).

A bit more on the excellent Gaming Atlantic blog.

February 13, 2009

Vegas Gang #26 - February 12th, 2009

Posted by Hunter

We're back with another episode! It can be downloaded here.

This time around we discuss:

* Atlantic City
* Las Vegas Economic Woes
* Tropicana Re-Brands as Value Property (!)
* City Center's Harmon is Stunted

Also, be sure to check out the new podcast from the UNLV Center for Gaming Research. You can subscribe to that here:

February 11, 2009

UPDATED: Las Vegas Sands Reports Q4 2008

Posted by Hunter

The Q4 2008 numbers are in for LVS - the first major operator to report their results.

Looks like an operating loss of $34.4 million, down from income of $133.6 million in the same quarter last year (GAAP). Adjusted, it's a $17.1 million loss vs. a previous year Q4 income of $71.1 million.

In Las Vegas, occupancy was 93.7% for the quarter - better than I expected (though not broken out by property). In Macau, occupancy was at 90%. While not providing figures, the company admits that the Four Seasons Cotai has been slower to ramp-up than they would have liked.

The company believes it can save $250 million a year through a new efficiency program (read: likely layoffs, hour reductions, etc...).

They have gotten their average borrowing rate down to around 3%, which is pretty good considering it used to be almost twice that.

We will no doubt be discussing tomorrow on our next episode of the Vegas Gang.

Updated: Management said that they don't see any market segment where they could really raise room rates other than perhaps in the group segment.

They are working to try to combat the recent national sentiment that seems to be pointing at Vegas based business trips as some sort of 'boondoggle'.

February 11, 2009

Eating Las Vegas - 'Trouble With Encore'

Posted by Hunter

John Curtas is one of my favorite people writing about Las Vegas. His take on the Vegas food scene is always informative.

Curtas today posted a run down of some of his Encore experiences which are worth a read:

Now, I am no food critic. I have a fairly unsophisticated palette though I do enjoy food quite a bit. Having eaten at all of the restaurants in the post, while I cannot rebut any of the specifics, I will say that I would put Botero in the list of restaurants at Encore I would look forward to going back to. Both of my meals there were quite good, by my admittedly 'simple' standards.

February 10, 2009

Macau Updates: Wynn Cotai and More...

Posted by Hunter

Thanks to Drambuie Man, y'all get to see some updated photos of what's going on in Macau, specifically Cotai.

Chuck is going to be posting these over at, starting with the Wynn Cotai site.

More to come over the next few days...

Updated: Chuck posted a few more of the photo sets:
City of Dreams
Encore at Wynn Macau

February 8, 2009

UPDATED: City Center Structures to be Re-checked

Posted by Hunter

After rebar problems at The Harmon went unnoticed, Clark County is requiring MGM Mirage to assure them and the public that the structures at City Center are sound.

This article in the Sun:

and another piece in the RJ:

detail the process. Perhaps the biggest issue isn't that errors were made - that happens on job sites all the time - but that they still can't figure out how it happened and passed the various, required inspections. That points to a possible systemic breakdown in the evaluation process.

Updated: A story in the LV Sun today titled 'Adaptation or 'disaster'?' discusses what the Harmon changes will mean for the project overall - a very interesting piece.

February 4, 2009

Encore Las Vegas - January 2009

Posted by Hunter

After spending a few more nights at Encore in the middle of January, I'm sharing some more of my thoughts after the jump.

Along with this, I am still working on editing some additional audio that was taken during various media tours - a substantial job given the varying quality of the source material.

Continue on for a little bit more about Encore.

February 3, 2009

Station Casinos to Enter Prepackaged Bankruptcy

Posted by Hunter

In what comes as no surprise to Vegas-o-philes, Station Casinos is restructuring their debts under bankruptcy protection:

If approved, Station would continue to operate under current management, though the equity partners have to kick in $244 million.

Station is one of the largest employers in Las Vegas.

Two unrelated but interesting stories:

Wynn Resorts has long prided itself on not laying off employees (though that does not seem to apply to the Wynn Design and Development sister company who recently shed several jobs). Today the company announced some measures aimed at keeping people employed, even if that means less pay, less hours and reduced benefits:

a little more from the LV Sun:

In other news, the IRS followed disgraced Fry's executive Omar Siddiqui to The Venetian this week. They are investigating allegations of tax fraud. Siddiqui was a Las Vegas high roller at several properties for years.

February 3, 2009

LV Sun: Tropicana to Re-Brand With Value Focus

Posted by Hunter

According to this article in the Sun, the Tropicana has hired a branding/marketing firm to help them re-make their image to go after the value conscious consumer.

Perhaps a market that was becoming more and more under-served on The Strip but not sure if this was the lifeboat that customers were hoping for,

February 2, 2009

UNLV Center for Gaming Research Podcast

Posted by Hunter

Thanks both to Dr. Dave and to for the announcement that UNLV's Center for Gaming Research has launched a podcast:

I haven't listened yet but I'm looking forward to it.