Category Archives: Las Vegas Casinos

15 Las Vegas Casinos Once Named Something Else

In the grand scheme of things, Las Vegas hasn’t been around that long. It has managed to cover a lot of ground when it comes to the names of its casinos, though.

Casinos are bought, sold, rebranded, imploded and rebuilt. Along the way, they often change names.

Here, then, are a hastily slapped-together batch of Las Vegas casinos formerly named something else. And in some cases, several something elses.

1. Planet Hollywood Was Tally Ho

That’s right, Planet Hollywood was originally the Tally Ho. After that, the hotel was called King’s Crown, then the more familiar Aladdin Resort & Casino. Are we having fun yet, we asked, rhetorically?

Planet Hollywood

We get the weird feeling we mainly wrote this blog post to show off some of our casino photos.

2. Westgate Was the International

The hotel we now know as Westgate opened in 1969 as the International Hotel. For years, it was known as the Las Vegas Hilton. For a minute, it was LVH, or Las Vegas Hotel and Casino. Hey, naming things is hard.

Westgate

We were there the day the LVH’s letters came down and the Westgate sign went up.

3. SLS Las Vegas Was Sahara

SLS Las Vegas is a relatively recent development. For nearly 60 years, 1952 to 2011, it was the Sahara Hotel and Casino. You’ll never guess which we like more, “hotel” or “casino.”

Sahara

Some days we sort of miss the Sahara’s fancy porte-cochere.

4. Harrah’s Was Holiday Casino

Never heard of Holiday Casino? Well, you’re in good company. The Holiday Casino came to be in 1973, thanks to Shelby and Claudine Williams, former owners of a classic Vegas casino, the Silver Slipper. Harrah’s got its name in 1992.

Harrah's Las Vegas

The Holiday casino had a riverboat theme, while Harrah’s has a Mardi Gras theme. Someday, we hope to do a story about themes that were formerly other themes.

5. MGM Grand Was Marina Hotel

What’s now on big-ass hotel, MGM Grand, got its start as the Marina Hotel and Casino. The Marina opened in 1975. Later, the hotel was called the MGM-Marina Hotel. The Marina closed in 1990, but still exists as the west wing of the MGM Grand.

MGM Grand

MGM Grand is the largest hotel in the United States. If you slept in all 5,044 of the rooms at MGM Grand, all in one night, you would have both multiple restraining orders and severe chafing.

6. The D Was Sundance Hotel

Lots of folks know downtown’s D Las Vegas was previously a casino called Fitzgerald’s. Before that, though, it was the Sundance Hotel. The Sundance opened in 1980 on land owned by a mobster named Moe Dalitz. Later, Sundance became The Fitz, and eventually it was owned by Don Barden, the first African-American casino owner in Las Vegas.

Fitzgerald's

How weird is it we appear to have never taken a photo of the exterior of Fitzgerald’s, but we somehow have a photo of the carpet?

7. Stratosphere Was Vegas World

Las Vegas eccentric Bob Stupak whipped up the idea of the Stratosphere as an addition to his Vegas World casino. At first, he wanted the Strat to look like the Eiffel Tower, but the site was too narrow. While impressive, the Stratosphere was designed to be much taller. The FAA got their undies in a bunch, so the height was decreased to its current 1,149 feet.

Stratosphere

You sort of can’t miss it.

8. Bally’s Was MGM Grand

Stay with us, now. The site where Bally’s sits was, at first, Three Coins Motel. Then, it was the Bonanza Hotel and Casino and later, New Bonanza Hotel and Casino. MGM Grand opened on the site in 1973. The hotel was sold to Bally Manufacturing in 1986, hence the name. It’s now owned by Caesars Entertainment.

Ballys

Bally’s, back when it had some bling.

9. Cromwell Was Barbary Coast

Caesars Entertainment owns the Cromwell, too. Way back when, a place called Empey’s Desert Villa sat on the land. In 1979, Barbary Coast came to be, it later became Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall and Saloon. Before the Cromwell name was finalized, the casino was going to be called Gansevoort. That name was tanked when regulators discovered connections between a Gansevoort Hotels investor, Arik Kislin, and the Russian mob. Good times.

Cromwell

Barbary Coast cleaned up real nice.

10. The Linq Hotel & Casino Was Flamingo Capri Motel

That’s right. At its inception, what’s now the Linq was the Flamingo Capri. In time, the resort became the Imperial Palace. It was named The Quad from 2012 to 2014. Funny story, mainly involving the word “oopsie.”

Linq hotel las vegas

The Linq swallowed the former O’Sheas. O’Sheas was originally called, well, O’Sheas. One less thing to memorize.

11. Golden Gate Was Hotel Nevada

Golden Gate, in downtown Las Vegas, is about as far back as Vegas goes. Its address is One Fremont Street, in fact. In 1906, it opened as Hotel Nevada, then became Sal Sagev Hotel and Casino. That’s Las Vegas spelled backwards. Told you naming things is hard. It got the name Golden Gate in 1955.

Golden Gate Las Vegas

Warned you about the showing off thing.

12. Casino Royale Was Nob Hill

Technically, the casino’s current name is Best Western Plus Casino Royale. Say that five times fast. From 1979-1992, the place was called Nob Hill. It closed in 1990, and Casino Royale opened in 1992, becoming a favorite Strip destination for value-seeking low rollers.

Casino Royale

Casino Royale isn’t your typical Strip casino. The words “White Castle” spring to mind.

13. Delano Was THEhotel

God, how we despise that affectation, THEhotel. Mandalay Bay’s sister hotel isn’t technically a “casino,” but we sure weren’t going to create a list with just 14 things on it, so there you have it.

TheHotel

It seems like they were screaming the wrong part.

14. Downtown Grand Was Lady Luck

Downtown Grand was, at first, the Lady Luck Hotel & Casino. Against all odds, Downtown Grand opened on Oct. 27, 2013.

Downtown Grand

We were there as Lady Luck transformed into Downtown Grand. We have clearly been around.

15. Hooters Casino Hotel Was Howard Johnson Hotel

If there were an award for “Casinos Previously Named Something Else,” Hooters would need a bigger mantle. What began as Howard Johnson Hotel eventually became Paradise Hotel, 20th Century, the Treasury, Pacifica and Polynesian. At the end of that run, it was renamed Hotel San Remo, and that one stuck, at least for awhile (1989 to 2006).

Hooters

The Hooters rewards club is called Rewards Club. Told you naming things is hard.

Sin City’s collection of casinos previously called something else continues to grow. Sometime in 2017, for example, Monte Carlo will be called Park MGM. The now-closed Las Vegas Club will get a new name, too.

Serious fans of Las Vegas have to keep on their toes. Or have access to the Internet. Whichever.

Share some Vegas. Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someone

Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority Unveils New (Wait for It) Parking Lot

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) recently sent out a news release where it excitedly announced the unveiling of a new parking lot. No, really.

The LVCVA’s new Diamond Lot, of course, is better known to Las Vegas fans as the site of the former Riviera casino.

This is what the lot looked like in May 2016.

Riviera Las Vegas

Riviera resort, just before it went on an aggressive weight loss program.

Months of work and a dozen dismantled and imploded buildings later, here’s a look at what “progress” has wrought.

Riviera demolition

It wasn’t paradise, but it’s definitely been paved to put up a parking lot.

Yep, it’s a parking lot all right. A parking lot with 3,100 spaces, to be specific.

The new lot is more than just a parking lot, of course. It’s also an outdoor exhibition space, and part of a larger, much-needed expansion to the Las Vegas Convention Center. Officials say the convention center expansion will “increase economic activity in our community.”

We get all that. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take a few minutes to remember the Riv.

With that in mind, we’ve culled highlights from our somewhat obsessive coverage of the Riviera demolition to create the ultimate Riviera demolition timeline.

So, time moves on, and Las Vegas continues its evolution.

It would take a lot to convince us a parking lot is more valuable than even a fading casino like Riviera. All due respect, LVCVA.

Share some Vegas. Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someone

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.

Share some Vegas. Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someone

Margaritaville Casino at Flamingo May Have the Best Happy Hour Deal in Las Vegas

Given all the happy hour deals to be found in Las Vegas, it takes a lot to get our attention. Margaritaville Casino at Flamingo Las Vegas just did.

Margaritaville Casino, a casino-within-a-casino, is currently offering five-cent beers each day at its 5 O’Clock Somewhere Bar, 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Margaritaville casino happy hour

Once thought to be extinct, a genuine casino loss leader has been spotted at Flamingo.

The happy hour deal has no small print, caveats or asterisks, so drink up.

While you’re there, you may also want to take advantage of the newly-unfurled beer pong tables. Just about every casino on The Strip is trying to lure younger customers, and beer pong seems an effective, low-cost way to do that. Social games for the win!

Margaritaville Casino beer pong

If you’re unfamiliar with beer pong, it’s just an excuse to drink a lot. You know, like having children.

There’s also a DJ at Margaritaville Casino, but don’t let that deter you from going.

The beer pong and music marketing strategy has worked wonders at O’Sheas inside the Linq hotel, right next door to Flamingo. The lively spot is the most profitable area in the entire Linq casino.

We’re always on the lookout for great deals on The Strip, especially when they’re hooch-related, so send your favorites our way.

Share some Vegas. Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someone

Hooters Jumps on Paid Parking News With Jab at Megaresorts and Free Beer

Hooters Casino knows a good PR opportunity when it sees one, and the off-Strip casino is taking full advantage of recent news Caesars Entertainment and Wynn Las Vegas will soon charge for parking.

The folks at Hooters claim their valet and self-parking will not only remain free, but guests who take advantage of the casino’s free parking will also get a free beer.

To qualify for the free beer, guests are asked to either present a receipt from another Strip parking garage or post a photo of their car in the Hooters lot on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #IParkedForFree.

Guests can make their way to the Hooters lobby bar to redeem the free beer offer.

Hooters Las Vegas

We are not a beer person, but this almost makes us want to visit Hooters. Bonus: Hooters.

Kudos to Hooters for acting quickly to ride the wave of publicity resulting from the chatter about paid parking in Las Vegas. We also appreciate the fact they read our blog, since their news release started with the sentence, “Monopoly isn’t the only place to find free parking!” We’re right there with you, Hooters.

Hooters hasn’t said when the free beer offer expires, but let’s hope it’s not when the casino later has to reverse its position on paid parking, because other casinos have tried similar marketing strategies in the past, sometimes with less-than-ideal results.

In 2011, Caesars Entertainment touted the fact its resorts didn’t charge a resort fee. The company (where we worked at the time, incidentally) went so far as to create an ad campaign featuring “angry showgirls,” presumably to illustrate how frustrated guests were about these infuriating fees.

Angry showgirls

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

In March 2013, Caesars Entertainment caved to market pressure and began charging resort fees, resulting in a level of awkwardness that continues to inspire face-palming to this day.

Hang in there, Hooters. Sometimes risks pay off, sometimes they don’t. Vegas was built on that premise, come to think of it.

Share some Vegas. Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someone

Here’s What MGM Grand Has In Store at Level Up Lounge

It was recently announced MGM Grand will join the growing list of Las Vegas casino desperately scrambling to woo millennials, younger guests who don’t seem to enjoy traditional forms of gambling all that much.

A new millennial-oriented lounge, Level Up Las Vegas, will soon open at MGM Grand in the space formerly occupied by the Rainforest Cafe (which moved to Harmon Corner).

Rainforest Cafe MGM Grand

Rainforest Cafe closed at MGM Grand in August 2015. Millennial translation: A bajillion years ago.

Level Up will be managed by Hakkasan Group, the nightclub people responsible for hugely successful clubs like Hakkasan at MGM Grand, Omnia at Caesars Palace and others.

Hakkasan

Seven of the 10 best-earning nightclubs in the world are in Las Vegas, and Hakkasan consistently dominates the revenue rankings.

A third party recruiter for MGM Grand has tipped its hand about what’s in store for Level Up, sending out a job posting that provides what’s sure to be a polarizing peek into both Level Up and potentially the future of casinos.

“We need very little experience dealing but you must be an entertainer,” says the call for job applications. “We are looking for people that are outgoing, bubbly and can really entertain.”

Hold onto your participation trophy, because this video is the inspiration for Level Up.

If you think this hybrid of nightclub, stadium-style gambling and trying-much-too-hard are a special kind of Hell on Earth, guess what—you’re not who it’s for!

Casinos are convinced millennials will enjoy gambling more if they can figure out how to take as much of the gambling out of it as possible. It’s more about the interactivity, the music, the party.

Level Up appears to be what middle-aged white guys in suits think millennials want, based upon reading white papers and attending panel discussions at gaming expos.  Which is definitely a recipe for success.

As for the dealer jobs, the posting continues, “The pay is a guaranteed $25/hour. You will not share in the tokes of the MGM dealers. You will receive the tokes given to you in this pit though.”

“Tokes,” by the way, are tips.

So, the dealers aren’t traditional dealers. It’s not about the dealing, you see. They’re more “dealertainers,” a term once reserved for the performing dealers at Imperial Palace, a position quickly killed off when the Imperial Palace became The Linq.

Dealertainer

Brownie points if you even know what we’re pining for.

The Level Up job posting concludes, “If you consider yourself to be an emcee type of personality then this will be a great job for you.”

If we ever create a list of people we least want to spend time with, those who consider themselves “emcee types” are likely to sit comfortably at the top.

Millennial casino

The future of Las Vegas casinos. Over our dead body.

Then again, we are not a millennial, and casinos have to try something to wrangle these confounding millennials. Downtown Grand went with eSports. Encore tried its Encore Player’s Club. And just about everyone in town has tried cornhole.

It remains to be seen if younger casino customers will respond to Level Up’s special kind of WTF. Apparently, it’s easier for casinos to provide noise, feigned enthusiasm and skill-based games than outmoded things like value and customer service and actual fun.

Since we’re admittedly not the target audience for Level Up, we’ll share a couple of thoughts from our always-insightful commenters.

Guillaume says, “I live in Montreal and I love The Zone at the casino, super excited to see it’s in store for Las Vegas. The Zone is always full on weekends, the party is fun and the minimums are way lower than at tables (3:2 black jack with good enough rules for 5$, can’t beat that). I really believe it’s going to be successful in Vegas too and can’t wait to see it!”

Commenter Mike adds, “It does look kind of fun to me, I’d definitely try it out. I know as a resident I’m spoiled because the usual Vegas is ho-hum regular, but the part of me that loved the SpaceQuest casino at the ex-Hilton would give this a whirl. If you don’t like it, there’s literally the largest casino floor in the United States right outside the door. And it’s got those same amber lights, those same red carpets, and that same damn Bruno Mars song playing that you can find everywhere else.”

We’d love to hear what you think. Of course, you’ll get a ribbon for leaving a comment.

Share some Vegas. Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someone