Category Archives: Gambling

Security Breach: El Cortez Begins Creation of Imbibe Bar

Way back in Jan. 2016, we caught wind of a new bar coming to El Cortez, the classic hotel on Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas.

At last, the hotel’s current casino bar has been closed and Imbibe bar is in the works.

El Cortez Imbibe bar

Yes, even if it’s just a curtain, it qualifies as a security breach. You’re quite the stickler, aren’t you?

The hotel has made no official announcement about the bar, it’s closure, any expansion
or even the bar’s name. Just go with it, anyway.

Naturally, we had to peek behind the drapes to see what’s up inside.

El Cortez Imbibe bar

The future home of Captain Morgan spiced rum and possibly other kinds of liquor we care much less about.

Presumably, the new Imbibe bar will try to appeal to a younger crowd. From what we hear, there’s already a strong millennial presence on Fridays and Saturdays. El Cortez benefits from all the surrounding restaurants and bars (think Gold Spike and Commonwealth) in the Fremont East District.

We did a walk-through of Fremont East so you can get your bearings.

Staffers say not only is the bar being renovated, but it’s expanding beyond the current casino bar’s footprint, and could potentially swallow the area where the keno parlor resides. (The keno desk would then be relocated to the hotel’s sports book area.)

El Cortez Imbibe lounge

Cornhole and foosball in 3…2…

We’ll keep an eye on the new bar at El Cortez, of course, but in the meantime, you’ll want to take advantage of a new promotion at the historic casino.

Here’s a thingy because we’re too drunk to relay the details.

El Cortez promotion

We refuse to do math unless it directly benefits us. This is that.

So, that’s cool, right? You’re making a withdrawal from the ATM, anyway, so why not get some free slot play?

Once you make your ATM withdrawal, head to the casino cage. There, you’ll be given a certificate for free play. Take the certificate to the loyalty club desk, and the free play is put on your club card.

El Cortez promotion

Vast fortunes have been won in Las Vegas with $15. Actual results may vary.

Now, win something and stick it to The Man. Winning with free play is even sweeter than the regular kind of winning, promise.

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Asian-Themed Lucky Dragon Casino Opens in Las Vegas, Absolutely Crushes It

A new casino resort has opened in Las Vegas, the Asian-themed Lucky Dragon, and we’re pleased to report it’s off to a fantastic start.

Lucky Dragon

Jaw, meet dropped. Welcome to Lucky Dragon Las Vegas.

If you’d like to fancy up your computer, grab one of our wallpapers: 1024 x 768, 1280 x 1024, 1920 x 1080.

Lucky Dragon’s official opening isn’t until Dec. 3, 2016, but the owners of the boutique hotel-casino apparently couldn’t wait that long to show it off. And with good reason. Lucky Dragon exceeds all our expectations, and is a great new addition to the north end of the Las Vegas Strip.

It’s been six years since a casino was built from scratch in Las Vegas. The most recent was Cosmopolitan in 2010.

Lucky Dragon is located near the corner of Sahara Ave. and Las Vegas Boulevard, between the Bonanza Gift Shop and Golden Steer Steakhouse, not far from SLS Las Vegas and the Stratosphere.

Some good news right off the bat: Parking is free.

Lucky Dragon has done an amazing job with relatively little real estate. Lucky Dragon occupies about three acres of land. By comparison, Caesars Palace sits on about 34 acres.

Lucky Dragon

Size, it turns out, isn’t everything in Las Vegas.

The biggest “wow” factor at Lucky Dragon is its stunning, quarter-ton dragon chandelier. The glass sculpture took 800 people to create, and has 288 glass balls. Sorry, orbs. The sculpture is 23 feet tall and is a dazzling centerpiece of Lucky Dragon’s casino.

Lucky Dragon

They’re orbs, not balls. Please keep it classy.

It should be made clear Lucky Dragon isn’t your typical Las Vegas casino, attempting to be all things to all people. Lucky Dragon isn’t just Asian-themed, its intention is to cater primarily to Asian players.

So, you won’t find the usual mix of casino games or cuisines. Lucky Dragon’s focus is on table games like baccarat and Pai Gow, and all the restaurant offerings at Lucky Dragon feature Asian food.

First, let’s hit the casino.

Lucky Dragon’s center bar is lively and comfortable. Luckily, drinks are poured from the bottle, so unlike in many Las Vegas casinos, you know you’re getting the liquor you ordered.

The bartenders are hilarious, and provide some great entertainment for video poker players. The video poker machines feel loose, and you won’t find any automated drink monitoring systems here.

Lucky Dragon

One of the best things about our first visit was the TVs at the casino bar weren’t working yet, so no sports.

Just about the only qualm we had with Lucky Dragon’s casino (aside from there being no Top Dollar slot machines) was the fact the reflection from the dragon chandelier made it a little difficult to see the video poker screens. Not a huge deal, but we expect changes to the screen angles will be made prior to the casino’s official opening.

Lucky Dragon

You’ll see what we mean.

Everyone on staff was incredible friendly and helpful. The cocktail servers are lovely, and their uniforms are flattering and tasteful.

Lucky Dragon

Yes, some people are Asiaphiles. Don’t make it weird.

Playing at Lucky Dragon means you may have to shift your gambling priorities a bit. We found just four blackjack tables (thankfully, they pay 3-to-2, as opposed to the odds now more common on The Strip, 6-to-5), so for the first time we tried our hand at baccarat. Hey, when in Macau.

Baccarat (you don’t pronounce the “t”) is simultaneously the easiest and most confounding table game. You place a bet on “Player” or “Banker,” and your dealer does the rest. You can do the math, but in our book, math is the opposite of fun.

Lucky Dragon

The house edge is so low for baccarat, a number of Las Vegas casinos don’t offer the game at all.

Of the 37 table games at Lucky Dragon, 25 are devoted to variations of baccarat. There are four Pai Gow tables and two roulette tables. Alas, no craps tables at all, but we’ll live.

Lucky Dragon

Here are the Lucky Dragon chip designs, because we know how you are.

Slot machines take a back seat to table games at Lucky Dragon, but there’s still a solid selection. Most of the games are Asian-themed, but you can still find your favorites like Wheel of Fortune and Buffalo.

One of the brilliant aspects of Lucky Dragon is how it combines a high ceiling with the feeling you’re in a more intimate casino space. Studies have shown players gamble less in spaces with high ceilings, so Lucky Dragon’s designers wisely covered the table games with faux “ceilings.”
These structures allow guests to experience the grandeur of the place, while feeling cozy at the same time.

Lucky Dragon casino

Somebody’s been reading up on casino design. This is brilliant.

Off the main casino floor is a high limit table game area, the Emerald Room.

Lucky Dragon high limit

Much like when we have sex, we tend to last about four minutes in high limit rooms.

Players looking for an even more intimate space can hit Lucky Dragon’s six VIP gaming rooms. These tastefully appointed, Macau-style rooms feel private, but they’re open to the public, as required by Nevada gaming regulations.

Lucky Dragon VIP salon

We’re going to design our den just like this someday. As soon as we get a den.

During our first visit to Lucky Dragon, we pretty much won at every game we played, both in machines and at the tables, so maybe there’s something to this dragon thing!

As with any Las Vegas casino, it’s important to sign up for the loyalty club. At Lucky Dragon, it’s the Dragon Club. You can visit the loyalty club desk or asked for a loyalty club card at one of the gaming tables. A hundred points equals a dollar, and points can be used at Lucky Dragon’s restaurants and hotel.

Beyond its great casino, Lucky Dragon has put together a rather extraordinary collection of dining options. The first you’re likely to encounter is the 24-hour Bao Now, right on the casino floor.

The restaurant has dim sum, soups, noodles and other to-go dishes. You can tell it’s a to-go counter since there are only about 10 chairs.

Lucky Dragon Bao Now

It would be difficult for us to adore the name Bao Now more.

A majority of the food on the casino’s first floor comes from a “show kitchen” called Jewel Kitchen.

There’s a lot going on in there, and it’s a great reminder of how much we don’t know about how Asian cuisine is prepared. Lucky Dragon could sell tickets, but we don’t want to give them any ideas.

Lucky Dragon open kitchen

Careful, or you just might learn something.

Also on the first floor is Dragon’s Alley, meant to evoke the night market scene on Ghost Street in Beijing, whatever that might actually be.

Dragon’s Alley could be described as a food court, but we consider it more along the lines of a buffet. Each station has Asian delicacies, and guests choose dishes a la carte. The chefs are extremely knowledgeable, so navigating the dishes isn’t as intimidating as you’d think.

Lucky Dragon

We’re definitely getting a metric ass-ton of lanterns for our den.

Guests can choose from a wide variety of dishes, each running $5 to $11. There’s seafood and barbecue and dim sum and desserts of all kinds.

Lucky Dragon food court

Dragon’s Alley seats 325 people, and will be open “from breakfast through late evening.” Translation: We’ll see how it goes.

Unlike at other Las Vegas buffets, there’s no signage to identify the dishes, and there are also no prices posted, so you’re sort of winging it until you get to the cashier. We suspect this process will be refined prior to Lucky Dragon’s official opening.

Lucky Dragon casino

Thanks, random guy in line who let us take a photo of his food.

At Dragon’s Alley, look for the art piece fashioned from bicycles.

Lucky Dragon casino

Bicycle is “zi xing che” in Chinese. Told you there was a chance you’d learn something.

On the casino’s mezzanine level, there are the Phoenix and Pearl Ocean restaurants. We’ll definitely be back to do some damage to their menus.

Lucky Dragon Phoenix

We’re fairly sure this is Pearl’s Ocean restaurant. We were fairly well lubricated by this point in our visit. For good luck!

Roaming out of the casino and over to the Lucky Dragon’s hotel, you’ll find Cha Garden. It includes the hotel lobby and pool area, and serves as a lounge and tea garden.

Lucky Dragon Cha Garden

The walk from Lucky Dragon’s casino to its hotel takes approximately a fourth of a minute.

We are not a tea person, but the pool and lounge areas seem a great place to meet friends and enjoy yum cha. Yes, we looked that up. Yum cha are light snacks, like tapas.

The pool area isn’t large, but again, Lucky Dragon has done a lot with a little, and guests should find the space a cooling diversion, especially during Sin City’s sweltering summer months.

Lucky Dragon

We’re pretty sure the pool isn’t more than a couple of feet deep, even at the deep end, so please, no diving.

We stayed overnight in Lucky Dragon’s 203-room hotel, and found our room to be clean and comfortable.

Lucky Dragon hotel

Lucky Dragon’s standard room is 400 square feet. The 55-inch TVs seem to have more Chinese programs than the actual country of China.

That’s our first take on Lucky Dragon, the newest casino in Las Vegas. We had a completely enjoyable first visit, and it’s a must-try during your next Las Vegas visit.

Lucky Dragon seems to have a thorough understanding of its target audience, a departure from the vast majority of Strip hotels that seem to only give lip service to wanting business from Asian customers. (“Look, a lion dance! Gamble here!”)

While Lucky Dragon may have its eye on Asian guests (signs are in both Chinese and English), there’s never a moment when non-Asian guests feel out of place. Whether you prefer chopsticks or a fork, you’re going to find something to love.

Lucky Dragon

Worth noting: Not a single security guard or staff member freaked out about our taking photos at Lucky Dragon, making us a fan for life.

The north end of The Strip has proven challenging for SLS Las Vegas, but Lucky Dragon has chosen a bold strategy in wooing a niche audience. Lucky Dragon could very well end up being an unlikely success story, scooping up regulars from casinos known for being Asian-friendly, like Palace Station and Gold Coast.

Back in the day, opening a Las Vegas casino was pretty much a financial sure thing. That’s not the case today. (Especially when you open a resort without a nightclub. Another reason to love Lucky Dragon!)

With its gorgeous, exotic decor, buzz-filled casino and delicious dining, though, Lucky Dragon could very well have what it takes to get lucky in Las Vegas.

Lucky Dragon Las Vegas

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10 Craps Mistakes Made By First-Time Players

Craps is an absolute blast, and one of the most exciting games in a casino, but it can be intimidating to new players.

We’ve slapped together 10 common craps mistakes made by newbies.

googie 1. Trying to hand cash to a dealer.

Dealers aren’t allowed to take cash from your hand, so simply lay your money on the table. The dealer will give you chips, and you’re ready to stick it to the house.

googie 2. Not holding the dice over the table.

There are lots of rules in casinos, typically intended to either keep people from cheating or employees from stealing. Always keep the dice in sight of the dealers and boxman. We’d explain what a “boxman” is, but it’s not that kind of list.

hard_six_dice

Want to make $1,000 from a $1 investment? Bet a “hard six.” Hit it three times before you “seven out” and you get a grand!

googie 3. Touching the dice with two hands.

It’s exciting shooting the dice, and if you’re a craps virgin, experienced players are going to love having you shoot the dice, too. Just make sure to only use one hand to shake or throw the dice. Using two hands makes the house nervous (as some cheaters try to switch the dice for loaded ones).

googie 4. Not hitting the back wall.

Throw the dice all the way down, or the dealers will let you hear about it. This ensures each roll is truly random, and there’s no funny business (sometimes called “dice control” or “precision shooting”) going on.

Craps pyramids

Just look for these bad boys at the opposite end of the table, and hit them with the dice. No pressure.

googie 5. Not knowing the chip denomination colors.

We saw this one at a downtown casino recently, and it was adorable. Before you begin play, make sure you know the colors associated with each denomination of chip. Red chips, for example, are typically worth $5. Green are worth $25, and so on. This helps a lot when a helpful dealer says, “If you’d like to bet on 6 and 8, I’ll need $12.” Otherwise, chaos.

googie 6. Holding a drink over the table.

Yes, people sometimes drink when they gamble. That leads to spills, and the felt on table games is especially vulnerable. So, take a sip and place your drink on the special “rail” down below (and don’t forget to tip your waitress). The chip rail is on top, by the way, with ample room for your winnings.

Craps the hook

See the drink rail? It’ll keep your cocktail out of harm’s way.

googie 7. Dangling hands over the table.

Seasoned gamblers are very superstitious, especially craps players. Avoid their hard stares by keeping your hands out of the way of the dice. Hands are better put to use clapping in support of hot shooters.

googie 8. Shouting out late bets.

“Get your bets in early!” is a common saying among dealers. Waiting until the last minute to make a bet can cause confusion and delays at the table. Make your bets when the dice are in the middle of the table, before they’re pushed to the shooter.

googie 9. Mistaking dealer placed bets for self-serve.

Some craps bets are made directly by players, and others are made by the dealers. For the most part, anything within arm’s reach is your responsibility. Otherwise, set your chips in the middle of the table (the area marked “Come” is a good spot), and tell the dealer your bet. If you’re confused about which bets are which, just watch and ask questions. You’ll find other players and dealers are very helpful. Note: It’s best not to ask lots of questions during a hot roll. You’ll mess with the mojo.

craps mistakes

Craps tip: Don’t bet the Big 6 and 8. The same bet pays more if you “place” those numbers with the dealer. You’re welcome.

googie 10. Saying “seven” at the table.

Speaking of mojo, this is one of the worst transgressions a new craps player can make. Don’t say the word “seven” out loud at the craps table. Our hands are actually shaking just typing that word. Part of the fun of craps is learning the rituals of the game, the jargon, the ridiculous rules and superstitions. This isn’t one of the ridiculous ones, by the way. Don’t say “seven”! Just trust us, we are a Las Vegas blog.

Now that you know some of the gaffs new craps players make, you can avoid them and take part in one of the most thrilling casino games, ever.

Remember to have fun stick to the basics of the game when you’re first starting out.

Catch a hot roll and you could reach legend status in a mere three to four hours. Actual results may vary.

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Venetian Sticks It to Players with Triple Zero Sands Roulette

It appears all bets are off when it comes to casinos coming up with clever ways to increase profits. Venetian Las Vegas recently introduced Sands Roulette, a game almost identical to traditional roulette, but with an insidious twist, a triple zero.

Most roulette tables in the U.S. have a zero and double zero. Those games have a house advantage of 5.2%. Not the worst game in a casino, but fairly hefty when compared to games like blackjack and baccarat.

Occasionally, you can find a European roulette table, with just a zero, and the house edge
dips down to 2.7%. In Las Vegas, those tables tend to be reserved for high rollers.

Sands Roulette at Venetian, with 0-00-000, means there are more ways for a player to lose,
and the house advantage jumps up to 7.7% (7.69% to be exact, but let’s not get bogged
down in details).

We’d love to show you a photo of the Sands Roulette table layout, but photography is
strictly forbidden at live tables in the Venetian. Therefore, we aren’t able to share the
photo below.

Triple Zero Sands Roulette

Sadly, this isn’t Photoshopped. It actually exists.

Yes, the bean counters are at it again.

While a 2.5% increase in the house edge may not seem like a lot at first glance, it
amounts to a huge windfall for the casino over the course of thousands, or hundreds of thousands, of spins.

The frustrating part about this particular revenue enhancement strategy is it’s
implemented in a way that seems underhanded. You won’t see a triple zero on the table, but
rather the triple zero is represented with an “S” and the Sands logo. The Venetian is owned by Las Vegas Sands Corp.

Sands Roulette intentionally takes advantage of less experienced players. One Venetian
staffer even said, aloud, “Tourists and conventioneers don’t really care.”

That opinion seemed to be confirmed by the fact the Sands Roulette table (there’s only one
in the casino at this point) was packed during our visit.

That same floor person admitted, “We try new table games for 90 days and evaluate the
results. If it tanks, it’ll go away.” Good to know, although much like 6-to-5 blackjack
(for many years, the game payed 3-to-2), sometimes such “innovations” never go away.

The Venetian staffer followed up with something rather ominous. He said, “If it increases
the drop, they’ll probably try adding another space.”

We’ll let that particular brand of WTF sink in for a moment.

Triple zero Sands Roulette

Sorry, we can’t show you this photo, either. Our hands are tied!

That’s right. Not only is the Venetian exploring new ways to stick it to us, they’re open to upping the ante. Let’s do this until we see what the pain point is, they seem to be saying.

Deep breaths.

Look, we don’t begrudge casinos the ability to increase profits. They’re doing it with paid parking and reduced liquor pour sizes and comp drink monitoring systems.

But is it too much to ask to not muck with a timeless, iconic casino table game? Seriously, WWJBS? (What would James Bond say?)

As mentioned, there’s currently only one triple zero table at Venetian, and we’re not
aware of any others in Las Vegas. It would surprise no one if triple zero games started
popping up at competing casinos in the very near future.

The Sands Roulette table had a $10 minimum, while all the other roulette tables had a $15 limit. One could make the argument the triple zero is a “surcharge” for the “lower” table minimum. Or not.

Will the average Las Vegas visitor realize they’re being dinged when they play the triple
zero Sands Roulette? Will knowing about it keep them from playing? We suspect not. Recreational gamblers don’t obsess over things like odds. These are the same folks playing the Big Six wheel, with one of the biggest house edges in a casino (as much as 24%, the mind reels).

Taken alone, Sands Roulette’s triple zero at Venetian Las Vegas isn’t the end of the world. But it does feel like another symbol of how casinos seem to be jeopardizing long-term trust and loyalty for short-term gain. With each new fee or detrimental change to a game, casinos run the risk of damaging the public perception of Las Vegas as a value-driven destination.

The opining about this state of affairs isn’t limited to us, of course. Our friend Sam Novak at VegasBright.com has a few thoughts well worth a look.

Ultimately, we decide what games succeed or fail. So, choose wisely.

Thanks to Marc Meltzer of EdgeVegas.com and the eagle-eyed folks at the Wizard of Vegas
forum for tipping us off to the unfortunate existence of Sands Roulette at Venetian Las Vegas.

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Caesars Entertainment Rolls Out Comp Drink Monitoring System to All Its Las Vegas Resorts

Las Vegas observers predicted this was coming, and now its here. Caesars Entertainment, which operates nine Sin City resorts, has rolled out its “Red Light, Green Light” (our term, not theirs) comp drink monitoring system to all its Las Vegas casinos.

The color-coded light system, installed on the back of video poker machines at casino and sports book bars, tells bartenders when a guest’s play warrants a free, or “comped,” drink.

Caesars Entertainment red light green light

Now, at Caesars Entertainment casinos, you have to get lit to get lit.

Las Vegas casinos have experimented with a variety of comp drink monitoring systems, the first being a voucher system at Mirage. The voucher system is now used in the lobby bar at MGM Grand as well.

Then, the Red Light, Green Light system appeared at the sports book bar at Caesars Palace.

Most recently, Cosmopolitan Las Vegas became the first Strip resort to implement a voucher system across all its casino bars, including its remodeled Chandelier bar.

The move by Caesars Entertainment to implement its comp drink monitoring system is a huge development in Las Vegas because the company owns so many casinos. Drink monitoring systems will now be the norm, and a company-wide roll-out at MGM Resorts resorts are sure to follow.

Caesars comp drink system

Today’s thing that looks like a face can also be a friend when you’re looking for a free drink.

We personally verified the comped drink system is in place at these Caesars Entertainment resorts: Bally’s (including Sully’s bar and Casino Bar), Cromwell (Lobby Bar), Linq (includes Tag Sports Bar, Catalyst and 3535 Bar), Flamingo (including X Bar and Bugsy’s, pictured below) and Harrah’s.

Our alert readers have confirmed that the system is in place at Rio, Caesars Palace, Paris and Planet Hollywood.

Remarkably, the Red Light, Green Light monitoring system seems to have been installed at all these Caesars Entertainment resorts within just a two-week window.

Bugsy's Bar Flamingo Las Vegas

Yes, the new system is in full effect at Bugsy’s Bar at Flamingo. One has to wonder what “Bugsy” Siegel (he hated that nickname, by the way) would think of the whole Red Light, Green Light thing. Oh, there would be whacking.

So, here’s how the system works, as best we can decipher, anyway. See, Caesars Entertainment hasn’t made any official announcements about the details of the monitoring system. Implementing the new system under-the-radar was a strategic decision to avoid potential backlash, as one bartender confirmed.

When you sit down at a video poker machine at a sports book or casino bar in a Caesars Entertainment resort, and put $20 into the machine, a blue light comes on. That signals to the bartender that you’ve “activated” the machine. Yes, there are guests who sit at these machines and put a dollar in and expect free drinks. They’re the ones this system is trying to address.

Once you choose your game, and begin play, you’ll need to play “max bet” for 4-5 hands (in most cases, $1.25 a pop, or five times 25 cents), then a green light comes on. That green light means you get a comped drink. Good times.

Las Vegas drink lights

Get the red, a dry spell’s ahead.™

As long as your green light is on, you’re good for comped drinks. This requires consistent play at max bet. There doesn’t appear to be a time requirement. You play, your light stays green, you’re hammered.

If you don’t play max bet, or if you play too slowly, you’ll get the red light. That signals to the bartender you no longer “qualify” for a free drink. You’ll need to meet the qualifications again before the liquor flows freely again.

That’s about it. Simple, but effective.

When we first learned of systems like this, we railed against them, but our position has evolved as we’ve learned more.

In essence, bartenders have always been the comped drink monitoring system. They watched the level and frequency of play and determined who earned a free drink. Now, it’s
automated.

When these systems first hit the casinos, bartenders weren’t thrilled. They felt it impeded their ability to give good customer service, and it also decreased their tips.

When asked during our most recent visit, one Bally’s bartender said, “They’re a blessing.” Now, the pressure is off the bartenders, and an automated system creates an environment where players know what’s expected, and the freeloaders know they can’t get away with scamming casinos for free drinks without a reasonable amount of play.

It’s worth noting bartenders say they have some discretion to veer from the rigidity of the Red Light, Green Light system for Seven Stars and Diamond tier loyalty club members. Those are some of Caesars Entertainment’s most lucrative customers, and it’s unlikely they’d nickel and dime them over cocktails that have a hard cost of mere pennies.

Caesars comp drink system

Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because you’re in Vegas.

At the moment, the light system at Caesars Entertainment resorts can’t easily be seen by customers. They’re installed on the back of video poker machines, and most players don’t even realize they’re there. If you want to know which of your lights are showing, you can place your hand behind the light display to see the color reflected, or use your smartphone’s selfie mode to take a look. Or just ask your bartender. They’re not secretive about it at all.

One bartender suggested the lights should be clearly visible to players so guests could easily tell if they’ve earned another free drink. That suggestion, however, didn’t go over well with management due to concerns about the potential of a negative customer response.

The customers we’ve chatted with, though, understand the fundamental purpose of the comped drink system, and figure the only people it will impact are those who expect something for nothing. That arrangement has never actually existed in Las Vegas, despite many who mistakenly believe it did. They just didn’t understand how Vegas worked. Casino revenue has always paid for the free rooms, buffets and show tickets. People did the comping, not machines.

Cromwell comp drink system

Yep, even the Cromwell. At this point, we recommend just paying for your cocktail. It’s likely to be less expensive than feeding a machine in the hopes of earning a comped one.

The implementation of the Red Light, Green Light comped drink monitoring system at all Caesars Entertainment resorts in Las Vegas marks a dramatic turning point in the culture and business of Las Vegas casinos.

It means we’re going to see similar monitoring systems in all Las Vegas casino bars and, in time, on all slot machines across the entire casino floor.

These changes, along with downsized liquor pours and paid parking, have sparked heated discussion among Las Vegas visitors, many contending Las Vegas casinos are compromising the destination’s perceived value for short-term financial gain.

Ultimately, though, painful as they may seem, the changes are smart business, and casinos
are for-profit businesses. Always have been, always will be.

Update (9/27/16): Caesars Entertainment has confirmed that the comp drink monitoring system has been implemented at all its Nevada casinos. A statement reads: “Caesars Entertainment has implemented the comp validation system statewide throughout our Nevada resorts. This system enables us to offer complimentary beverages to those gamers who choose max play at our video poker bar top units.” See more on this story from our friends at KTNV.

It ain’t glitzy, but it is the reality, so play on.

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Transformation of The California Continues With Opening of Sports Book Bar

There’s been a steady stream of changes and renovations at downtown’s California casino,
including the unveiling of a new sports book bar.

Emphasis on bar.

California hotel sports book bar

A new place for dog players, futures, exotics, chalk eaters and other terms we don’t know the meaning of.

The new sports book bar includes a relocation of The Cal’s, wait for it, sports book. The sports
book was previously on the casino’s second floor, and it was sad. The former sports book is
expected to become additional meeting and banquet space.

The just-revealed sports book is shiny and new and happy, and is just inches away from a new casino bar, complete with eight video poker machines, comfy seating and hooch.

California sports book bar

It’s like the den you’d have if you had an uncle named Sheldon.

The Cal’s new sports book lounge has 18 video screens, with wiring telegraphing plans for two
more.

The new sports book bar is easily accessible, right on the casino floor.

We’re putting this among the best sports books downtown, right up there with Golden Nugget’s. Despite the fact we don’t do sports. Hey, nobody’s perfect.

The Cal sports book bar lounge

We are not keeping track of all the remotes.

The new sports book bar is part of a major overhaul of the California, which opened in
1975. Estimates of the hotel’s renovations put the investment in the $40 million range. The Cal cost $10 million to build.

The sports book bar follows the opening of another casino bar, the Holo Holo Bar, in the
space previously occupied by the San Francisco Pub.

Holo Holo Bar at California

Holo Holo means “to go out and have adventures” in Hawaiian. About 80% of guests at The Cal are from Hawaii.

The Cal’s entire casino has undergone a renovation over the last year or so. Read more
about the “mystery pillar” that no longer qualifies as a mystery.

The casino has gotten a serious facelift, including new carpeting, new lighting fixtures,
new detailing and paint. The whole place, described as “Hawaiian colonial,” looks brighter
and more modern.

This is where the transformation of The Cal’s casino began.

California casino renovation

Out with the old, in with the colonial.

Upstairs at the California, Aloha Specialties restaurant also got a refresh.

Aloha Specialties

Nothing too flashy, but new is new.

The hotel’s Redwood Bar & Grill, pictured below, has closed for a renovation, too.

Redwood Bar & Grill

Only in Vegas do we renovate things that don’t really need renovating.

Signs on the Redwood Bar & Grill encourage guests to visit a temporary home, at the Pullman
Grille inside Main Street Station. We haven’t tried it, but we have tried a relatively new restaurant at The Cal, California Noodle House, which gets ridiculously high praise from us, so save yourself some walking.

California Noodle House

We’ve yet to find anything we don’t like at California Noodle House, and we hate everything.

Chances are if you haven’t been to the California in awhile, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the breadth of the changes.

The Cal is one block north of Fremont Street Experience. (Full disclosure: We work in marketing for Fremont Street Experience, and The Cal is one of its partner casinos. Our opinions are our own. Except for the ones we got from 1990s sitcoms. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

Prices for food and drink at The Cal are downright cheap, even by downtown standards, so with all the newness, it’s a great time to stop by and check it out.

California hotel casino Las Vegas

Bonus: No resort fees. Unless you’re into the kind of thing.

While you’re there, of course, don’t forget to grab a cone at Lappert’s Ice Cream on the second
floor. Yes, they recently cut their ice cream selection in half (our beloved chocolate chip fell victim to the downsizing), but what’s left is still some of the best ice cream in Las Vegas.

Lappert's Ice Cream

If only [bring back] subliminal messages [our damned chocolate] worked [chip].

If you drop by The Cal, we’d love to hear what you think. Leave a comment, Tweet us or send a message via carrier pigeon. Note: We only mentioned that last thing to confuse the Millennials.

California Newness

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