Fontainebleau Sale, Stadium Location, Raiders News and Every Damn Rumor We Could Squeeze Into One Cluster of a Story

The rumor mill is on tilt this week in Las Vegas, and we’ve wrangled some of the juiciest tidbits to share in a completely irresponsible fashion, because that’s how we drunk blog, baby.

Here’s how it falls out.

For starters, the Fertitta brothers (also referred to as Lorenzo and Frank), sold the UFC for $4 billion. Not too shabby for a $2 million investment back in 2001.

The sale of the UFC has resulted in the Fertitta brothers moving from bajillionaire status to multi-bajillionaire status. It’s a great gig if you can get it.

To be more specific, Forbes says the Fertitta brothers are worth a combined $3.2 billion. That’s not Sheldon Adelson money, but it’ll do in a pinch. Since the UFC sale, each brother’s wealth has climbed to $2.4 billion each.

Million billion

In case you’re keeping score, a billion is a thousand millions.

And this may not even take into account the bajillions the Fertitta brothers made when their Red Rock Resorts, Inc. (a/k/a Stations Casinos) went public. Each of the brothers is believed to have received more than $110 million for that little transaction.

So, what is one to do with all these billions? Make more billions, of course!

Here’s what we hear. (From someone who spoke to an actual Fertitta, by the way. Not from the primary Fertittas, but someone in the gene pool.)

The Fertitta brothers are going to purchase all or part of the Las Vegas Raiders. Yes, the Raiders are coming to Las Vegas, despite our best efforts.

In case you haven’t been keeping up with the whole Raiders drama, the current owner of the Raiders has said he’s willing to move the team if Las Vegas can pony up with a stadium. A surprising number of NFL team owners are now onboard with having a team in Las Vegas, despite years of resistance related to concerns about people (GASP!) gambling on sports.

Roughly 10 potential locations for a new stadium have been floated, but only one is going to win, and that location is…

Wait for it.

The 100-acres in and around the Wild Wild West casino. The Wild Wild West casino is about a half-mile west of the I-15, close enough to The Strip to be a viable location, without many of the headaches (including traffic and parking) associated with the T-Mobile Arena.

Wild Wild West

We once frequented the Wild Wild West casino, but close down your craps table and you’re dead to us.

The Wild Wild West site is owned by the aforementioned Fertitta brothers and their Red Rock Resorts Inc. Even people who know what they’re talking about agree the Wild Wild West space is the leading contender for the new 65,000-seat domed football stadium.

The stadium would probably be a public-private partnership between the Fertittas (Stations Casinos), Las Vegas Sands Inc., Majestic Realty and the Raiders (no matter who owns it when the deal is inked).

Yes, there are still lots of financial wrinkles to be hammered out. Cost estimates for the stadium have risen to $2.1 billion, with about $750 million in public funding needed. The “public funding” would presumably come from a room tax.

We are not personally interested in the “details” or “facts” surrounding this whole Raiders thing. We are more interested in another spectacular rumor we’re starting right this very minute.

Because from what we understand, it’s those very same Fertitta brothers who are the mysterious buyers of the (wait for it, again) Fontainebleau hotel!

Fontainebleau

Long story.

Look, they’re not going to want to pay taxes on that $4 billion, so what better way to re-invest in grabbing the abandoned Fontainebleau hotel for $750 million, then plowing another $1.2 billion into the project to get it opened as the first Station casino on The Strip. (Palms was close, but it’s not The Strip.)

We checked with a source at the real estate company handling the Fontainebleau and didn’t get a denial. Which, in the world of rumors and speculation, is a confirmation.

So, is all this the ramblings of an intoxicated Las Vegas blog? Probably. But if you can find holes in any part of this delicious web of unsubstantiated rumors, we’d love to have you poke them. Or something.

Let’s hear your version of how all this unfolds. Especially if you agree with us. If not, keep it to yourself.

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Downtown’s Gold Spike Closes The Grill, Fiddlestix Already in the Works

Downtown’s Gold Spike has closed its cafe, The Grill, and is working on a new restaurant concept, Fiddlestix.

The new restaurant is expected to open in early August 2016.

The restaurant concept is, refreshingly, not part of an existing chain. Fiddlestix will feature a variety of breakfast favorites, salads, burgers, sandwiches and alcoholic milkshakes. Especially that last thing.

Fiddlestix Gold Spike

Fiddlesticks are instruments which allow two people to play a fiddle at once. The practice is often called “beating the straws.”

Fiddlestix will also offer breakfast items 24 hours a day, including lighter options like granola and muesli, as well as other things this blog has never personally eaten.

Breakfast offerings will include bagels and “schmears,” pastries, eggs and specialty items like bacon and eggs toast with Fontina cream sauce, smoked salmon toast and cornflake-crusted French toast with Jack Daniels maple bourbon syrup. Especially that last thing.

Fiddlestix Gold Spike

It’s curtains for The Grill at Gold Spike.

From 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. daily, Fiddlestix will offer build-your-own yogurt parfaits and acai bowls. On Saturdays and Sundays, from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., brunch will be available with a specialty menu and all-you-can-drink mimosas and Bellinis. And especially that last thing.

As for the aforementiond alcoholic milkshakes, they’ll include The Dude (vodka, Kahlua, vanilla ice cream), Cereal Milk (RumChata cream liqueur, Fireball whisky, vanilla ice cream, Cinnamon Toast Crunch), Irish Breakfast (Jameson Irish Whiskey, crispy bacon, crumbled pancake, vanilla ice cream, maple syrup) and Oh Captain, My Captain (Captain Morgan spiced rum, Cap’n Crunch cereal, vanilla ice cream).

Wait for it.

Don’t jump ahead.

Just wait for it.

Especially that last thing!

Fiddlestix Gold Spike

Gold Spike’s interior design pixies are wasting no time in revamping the restaurant. Insert Pixy Stix joke here.

Fiddlestix will seat 50 people, and the center of the room will boast a 20-seat floating fuchsia quartz community table with interactive built-in iPads and Internet access. It’s a Millennial thing.

Fiddlestix will be open 24 hours a day.

Gold Spike, of course, has become the surprise hit of downtown. It was formerly an underwhelming casino, but was purchased by Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh and the Downtown Project. There’s also the Oasis at Gold Spike, and it’s adorable.

The Gold Spike’s casino closed on April 14, 2013. Usually, that’s where this blog’s interest would end, but on May 6, 2013, Gold Spike re-opened as a bar, restaurant and nightlife party spot.

Gold Spike originally opened as Rendezvous in 1976.

Gold Spike has been a hit with its reasonable prices, communal “Living Room” (think college common area, but cooler, and with better Wi-Fi) and outdoor hangout space, “The Backyard.”

Gold Spike Las Vegas

The Living Room. What’s not to love about dueling pool tables?

Gold Spike provides a refreshing change from the usual downtown haunts and is about the only place in Las Vegas where corn hole, giant Jenga and board games are offered without it feeling like a feeble ploy to get hipsters to gamble.

There’s no question Gold Spike knows its customers, so we expect Fiddlestix will serve up accessible, hearty options at a fair price. We predict it will soon be in our regular lunch rotation.

More to come.

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Riviera Demolition Update: Down to the Wire

Demolition of the classic Riviera hotel-casino is coming down to the wire. Or it’s
in the home stretch. Or the rubber’s hitting the road. Or it’s the bottom of the
ninth. Oh, just pick an analogy, already.

No matter how you say it, the Riv’s days are numbered.

Riviera demolition

This part of the Riviera is newly translucent.

Just a few low-rise structures remain, and they’re being taken apart piece-by-piece
by demolition crews.

Here’s the best view you’re likely to get of the dissection of a Las Vegas legend.
You’re welcome.

The Riv’s Monte Carlo tower has been prepped for implosion, including asbestos
abatement. Yes, these demolition crews are master abaters. (We’ll be here all week.)

Riviera implosion

The Monte Carlo tower has undergone some durmabrasion to remove its asbestos-rich stucco. This should make the tower’s dust cloud safer during its upcoming implosion. Sounds legit.

The implosion of the Monte Carlo is expected to take place in mid-August 2016. The
hotel’s tallest tower, the Monaco, was imploded on June 14, 2016.

Riviera demolition

The demolition has even found its way to the Riviera’s famed facade. This is the part where we get a little weepy.

At the current pace, the vast majority of the demolition of the Riviera will be
complete in a few weeks.

Riviera demolition

That patch of dirt used to be the hotel’s abandoned pool, casino and underground parking lot.

The good news is the Riviera will live on forever on film. The Riviera’s casino was
the casino in the movie “Casino,” and it provided the new “Jason Bourne” film with a
(wait for it) spectacular climax.

 

Let’s take a few moments to revel in the carnage, shall we? Remember, the only
constant in Las Vegas is change. And our puerile jokes. But mostly that first thing.

Riviera Demolition Update: July 19, 2016

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How to Find the Loosest Slots in a Las Vegas Casino, Guaranteed

Wouldn’t it be great to know the loosest slots in any Las Vegas casino? Well, you can, and it’s easier than you might think.

A “loose” slot, of course, refers to a machine that pays out frequently and in large quantities, every player’s dream. Those machines are also described as being “hot.”

In the parlance of casinos, loose slots can be said to have the lowest casino “hold.” The hold percentage is the part of a machine’s “coin in” that the casino keeps. Hey, these casinos aren’t going to carpet themselves.

Las Vegas slot machine

Just no.

The lower the hold percentage, the more a slot machine pays back to guests. The secret to finding the loosest slots in a casino, then, is knowing which machines have the lowest hold percentage.

Many believe this information is a closely-held secret, but here’s an easy way to find out which slots are the loosest: Ask someone who knows.

Crazy, right? Every casino with slot machines has a Slot Manager, often called the Slot Operations Manager. This person, who you will never see without a suit and tie (yes, they tend to be male), knows precisely what the hold percentages are for given machines, or more typically for banks of machines.

It’s the Slot Manager’s job to monitor how machines are performing, if they’re delivering sufficient profit to the casino given the space they take, if new machines are needed, where they should be placed on the casino floor and myriad other duties.

If you want to know which slots in a casino are the “loosest,” simply ask a Slot Manager.

Loose slots

These are some of the loosest slots at The D Las Vegas. How do we know? We asked.

Here’s how.

Ask anyone on the floor if the Slot Manager is available to chat. Slot attendants and cocktail waitresses can be very helpful tracking them down. Hint: Be professional and courteous.

Introduce yourself to the Slot Manager and let them know you’re interested in locating the slots with the lowest hold percentage on the floor. Slot Managers are busy people, so while there’s no harm in schmoozing, don’t be shy about getting to the point.

In most cases, a Slot Manager will either point you toward a bank of machines or escort you there. Express your appreciation accordingly, and it’s time to play!

That’s it. No, really. It’s that easy.

All this begs the question: Why would a casino employee tell a player the best-playing slots in the casino?

Simple: Casinos just want people to play, they don’t care which machines they play on.

Why? Because no matter which machine you play, the house has the advantage. It’s built right into the machine’s microprocessor. Even if a machine has a great payback percentage, say 98%, it will keep $2 for every $100 put into the machine. Many machines keep significantly more.

loosest slots

As a rule, slots are looser at locals casinos than downtown casinos, and both pay back more than slots on The Strip. The more you know.

Now, if you can’t locate a Slot Manager, you can fall back on tried-and-true ways to find the best-paying slots.

A solid rule-of-thumb is the more active a bank of slots is, the higher the payouts tend to be. Casino regulars see patterns, so follow their lead.

It’s also good to know that the higher the machine’s denomination, the more generous and frequent the payouts. For example, a $5 coin machine is going to have a higher payout percentage than a quarter machine, and so on.

$500 coin slot machine

Go big or go home. It’s Vegas!

And finally, don’t discount the advice of those slot attendants and cocktail waitresses we mentioned. They, too, can see patterns in machine payouts. They may not be privy to the same information a Slot Manager has, but they can often point you toward the machines showing signs of being “hot.”

The next time you’re in a casino, remember our simple tip for finding the loosest slots: Ask a Slot Manager.

And remember to have fun when you play. That way, whether Lady Luck is in the mood or not, you’re always a winner.

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Vital Vegas Podcast, Episode 21: Good Vibrations, EasyPlay App and Howard Hughes

It’s time for another excruciating episode of the Vital Vegas Podcast!

This is episode 21, which means the podcast is finally old enough to gamble. What could possibly go wrong? (Don’t bother asking about the “Good Vibrations” thing. It’s better left unsaid.)

In this installment, we chat about the new real money slot tournament app from MGM Resorts, EasyPlay, and hear an exclusive interview with Michael Jabara, President & CEO of OneLive, Inc., the company that developed this new Web-based app.

EasyPlay app

The EasyPlay app from MGM Resorts lets players enter real money slot, bingo and video poker tournaments.

We also dive into the state of downtown Las Vegas and its future, and round up some of the Las Vegas news you know and love (mainly because you read this blog).

Rounding out the episode, we explore one of the colorful characters that made what Las Vegas is today, Howard Hughes.

It’s all that and so much less on this episode of the Vital Vegas Podcast, so take a listen, already.

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Wynn Las Vegas Confirms Curtain Coming Down on “Showstoppers”

Hot on the heels of news “Raiding the Rock Vault” will soon close at Tropicana, another show is being given the ax, “Steve Wynn’s Showstoppers” at Wynn Las Vegas.

According to the Las Vegas Sun, Wynn reps have confirmed “Showstoppers” will close for good on Sep. 30, 2016.

The lavish, old-school production, featuring a large (expensive) cast and full (expensive) orchestra, was a pet project of Steve Wynn. The show is said to have cost $10 million to launch.

Showstoppers

“Showstoppers” was the first Las Vegas show to feature male cast members as coffee tables.

“Showstoppers” opened in December 2014, and lasted far longer than most anticipated.

We included “Steve Wynn’s Showstoppers” on our list of shows likely to close in 2016. Not because it wasn’t good (we never saw it), but because the economics of Las Vegas entertainment is changing, and even with Steve Wynn’s deep pockets, the show seemed destined for the same fate as other high-cost, low-attendance shows like “Jubilee!” at Bally’s and “Frank: The Man, The Music” at Palazzo.

“Showstoppers” came about after Steve Wynn created a private show for his wife Andrea’s 50th birthday party. The show amounts to a “Broadway’s greatest hits” compilation, complete with elaborate sets and choreography.

Could “Showstoppers” be the last we see of Broadway-style musical theater on the Las Vegas Strip? And if so, what the hell are we going to do with all the surplus jazz hands?

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