Gird Your Loins: Year-End Las Vegas Predictions Past and Future

It’s that time again! It’s time time to reflect upon last year’s predictions for this year, and to make new predictions about 2017. Most of all it’s time to pour some Captain Morgan, break out the crystal ball and revel in all the Las Vegas WTF.

First, let’s roll around naked in our 2016 prediction successes. You can read our full list of 2016 predictions here.

What’d we get right last time around? Well, the results aren’t yet about whether Cosmopolitan had its first profitable year, but we’re betting they did it.

Chandelier Bar at Cosmopolitan

A revamp of the Cosmo’s Chandelier Bar is just one element of the newness, with more to come in 2017.

While our prediction Las Vegas would have its first professional sports team in 2016 seems like a no-brainer now, back in 2015, it was anything but a sure thing. You go, Las Vegas Golden Knights.

Alon not only sputtered as we predicted, it outright expired. Executives with the proposed resort still cling to the hope they can find financing, but the writing’s on the wall.

Alon Las Vegas

Alon is a French word meaning, “This definitely isn’t a French word.”

We nailed the prediction about Las Vegas taxi ridership plummeting thanks to Lyft and Uber. Ridership tanked 19% year-over-year as of November 2016.

On the festival front, we nailed the fact Rock in Rio USA won’t be back. The behind-the-scenes drama with this music festival are the stuff of Las Vegas legend now.

We were more optimistic about the return of Life is Beautiful, and correctly predicted its return. Reduced costs make it more likely this year’s event won’t be the last, but official numbers have yet to be released.

Life is Beautiful

Life is Beautiful still has a heart on for Las Vegas.

Our prediction “Multiple Strip Shows Will Close” wasn’t just correct, it turned out to be the understatement of the year. A whopping 30 Las Vegas shows closed in 2016.

But enough with 2016, “The Year of the Giant Sucking Noise,” it’s time to look ahead and make 10 uncannily accurate Las Vegas predictions for 2017.

2017 will be:

1. The Year of Bankruptcy Protections

Sorry to start things off with a buzzkill, but this one’s coming and you’d better hold on tight. Due to tectonic changes in China, Las Vegas Sands Corp. will file for bankruptcy protection in 2017. But that’s not all. So will Wynn Resorts. Think we’re kidding? Bajillionaire Sheldon Adelson (owner of Las Vegas Sands Corp.) recently lost $3 billion in 30 minutes. While this prediction may seem outlandish, we’ve heard bankruptcy discussions are already in the works, including the involvement of a high-power New York attorney handling the case for one of the casino companies. So, look forward to hearing more about “The Year of Debt Restructuring.” (For some perspective: Wynn, MGM Resorts, Las Vegas Sands and Caesars Ent. have about $39 billion in long-term debt.) The good news is Caesars Entertainment will finally get clear of its bankruptcy, but the possibility of other Vegas players filing means announced projects like Wynn Paradise Park (pictured below) may be put on hold indefinitely. Time will tell.

Wynn Paradise Park

We can wait.

2. The Year of Gridlock on The Strip

During 2016, lots of new offerings have made their debut on The Strip, like T-Mobile Arena, The Park and Park Theater. MGM Resorts has gone to great lengths to deal with traffic and parking issues, but The Strip simply can’t handle the influx of vehicles. Add NHL games, and it’s going to be a doozy. Yes, that’s the technical term.

3. The Year of Free Parking Promotions

Yes, 2016 was the year pretty much every Las Vegas hotel started charging for parking. In 2017, everyone will jump on the bandwagon and we’ll see a new twist. Free parking promotions. Casinos will start using free parking as a perk, as if paid parking were always a thing, and now getting it free is something customers should get excited about. Suck it, Capitalism.

4. The Year of Awkwardly Wooing Millennials

Yeah, the millennial thing isn’t going away any time soon. Las Vegas casinos are fumbling awkwardly in the dark in an effort to win over millennials with social spaces and skill-based games. Hint: They’re doing it wrong. In 2017, skill-based games will prove to be a flop and eSports will be seen as the false hope it is (not the pursuit itself, but as a profit source for casinos, any more than conventions are). If you want to woo millennials, institute lower table minimums, be generous with comps and stop awkwardly using terms like “on fleek” in your social media marketing.

Gold Spike Las Vegas

Every casino executive in Vegas has visited downtown’s Gold Spike, the Holy Grail of millennial wrangling.

5. The Year of Show Openings

Yes, there’s good news in 2017. Having 30 shows close in one year means there’s a lot of space to be filled. We predict about half that number of shows (15, in case you’re as drunk as we are) will open in Las Vegas during 2017. A fan favorite, “Jersey Boys,” will be back, too, mark our words. “Tournament of Kings,” sadly, will close in 2017 as we first reported in 2016, despite the vehement denials of The Man. Ditto “Baz.” Don’t hate.

6. The Year of Still No Resorts World

Hopes are high the Resorts World project will kick into high gear in 2017, but alas, it’s not going to happen. Blame China. (Oh, and 2017 will also be the year Fontainebleau won’t be sold, but we don’t want this story to be too much of a downer, so we won’t mention it.)

7. The Year of Chick-fil-A

In possibly the best news ever, no fewer than three Chick-fil-A locations will open in or near Las Vegas (a couple in Henderson) in 2017. Other exciting news will include an official announcement of a White Castle on Fremont Street, and In-N-Out at Linq promenade will become the chain’s top earning location in the history of the company.

Chick-fil-A Las Vegas

Get in our belly.

8. The Year of No Resort Fees

In 2015, we predicted resort fees would be legislated out of existence. That didn’t happen, but there were signs of hope. It’s time for legislators and the FTC to deal with this asshattery once and for all.

9. The Year of Las Vegas Taxi Companies Getting a Clue

While it’s been gratifying to see taxi companies taking it in the trunk from ridesharing services, we predict the Las Vegas taxi industry will get a clue in 2017 and clean up its act. Not because it’s the right thing to do, but because the threat of extinction is a great motivator.

10. The Year of T&A

With the loss of the classic “Jubilee” and fleeting “Cherry Boom Boom,” 2016 wasn’t the best year for toplessness in Las Vegas. In 2017, though, disrobement will make a serious comeback. There’s a new flesh-filled show in the works for Bally’s (the former home of “Jubilee”), and at least two male revues will make their debut. “Men of the Strip” is rumored to be landing at The Stratosphere (“Pin Up” may be out, but let’s keep our eyes on the prize) and Channing Tatum’s “Magic Mike Live Las Vegas” will open at Hard Rock casino starting in March 2017. Let’s toast to the return of T&A in Vegas!

Cherry Boom Boom

Keep doing you, Vegas.

11. The Year Casinos Stopped Being Open 24/7

This one’s a late entry, but it occurs to us that as Las Vegas casinos explore ways to save money (and by extension make more money), they’ve gotten all the low-hanging fruit, but have failed to go after one long-standing practice that may not make sense forever. Casinos have always been open 24 hours a day, but it could be cheaper to close in the early morning hours. Don’t be surprised if this one pops its head up in 2017.

12. The Year Casinos Stop Giving Comped Drinks

Our final prediction is the most bleak. For years, we’ve known the casinos are scrutinizing the tradition of providing comped drinks to slot machine players. In 2016, casinos in Las Vegas downsized their liquor pours and rolled out comp monitoring systems as casino bars. It’s quite possible 2017 is the year some brave Las Vegas casino or casino company decides the era of “free” drinks has come to an end. Sounds crazy, but a year ago, people thought free parking at Las Vegas casinos would last forever. Once a casino pulls this trigger, all the rest will fall, too.

So, what do you think? What will 2017 hold for Las Vegas? Who will be the winners and losers? What lies ahead for Sin City during the next year and beyond? Your guess is as good as ours.

And possibly much better given our current alcohol level. Just saying.

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  • mike__ch

    I think you just don’t get the millennial thing. No matter how I try to dissuade them, I hear people demanding skill based games. I point out that I’d rather a game that gave me a 1% chance of winning a jackpot than a 0.1% chance that becomes 1% if I complete a stage of Super Mario, but nobody listens.

    And eSports is basically a proven thing because there’s already eSports gambling happening all over the world. Some of it’s pretty brazenly illegal, others are aimed at Europeans etc, But, much like the Poker thing of 2002-2010, there’s already an established market set up before the casinos get their hands in it.

    • Scott Roeben

      You’re right I don’t entirely get it! I’ll defer to you on the appeal of those games, but I’m not convinced most millennials are interested in gambling–it seems unlikely the kind of game will move the needle too much. I guess we’ll see! Thanks for mentioning eSports, too. I should be clear I understand it’s a social phenomenon, I just don’t see the potential for casinos to generate revenue from it–at least not in a way that’s different from any other convention. I went back and clarified that in the post, so appreciate it.

  • Bouldersteve

    Will 2017 be the year Derek Stevens starts construction on the old Vegas Club..Hope it doesn’t take as long a Resorts World to complete.

    • Scott Roeben

      Not sure construction will begin, but demolition of the one tower will. I think the target for open is some time in 2018.

  • Photoncounter

    I find it strange that some clever lawyer hasn’t found a group to file a class action lawsuit against the casinos over the resort fees. When booking rooms it is very difficult to get fair price comparisons.

    Prediction: the electrical fires continue at Rio and spread to other Caesar’s properties. Deferred inspections, lack of preventive maintenance and incompetent Engineering will keep running these properties down. Thankfully Clark County does a decent job enforcing the Fire Codes.

  • Mako10

    Wow, #1 is a doooooozy. Fingers crossed though, couldnt happen to a more deserving bunch like Wynn and Adelson, maybe then they’ll learn not to rip off their customers.

    I’ll add, now that Alon is rightfully kaput, Resorts World joins them and the stadium gets built on that combined site.

  • Martin Veneroso

    It just struck me, looking at this list, but I wonder if items #3 and #8 are related. The grifters who run these joints saw their “resort fee” well drying up, and decided to dig new ones, in the parking lots. Coincidence? I think not!

  • William Wingo

    Your 2016 prediction #20, “All Las Vegas Casinos Will Have 6-to-5 Blackjack,” was only partially fulfilled. Certainly that’s now true on the strip and downtown, but I believe many of the off-strip “locals” casinos still have 3-2.

    I have never played 6-5 and never will, so most Las Vegas gaming is now irrelevant to me. I haven’t even entered any strip casino in several years. And then they started charging for parking.

    Here is my Las Vegas prediction for 2017 and beyond. It’s the same as last year. The corporate bean counters will continue to dismantle the attractive parts of the Las Vegas experience; incidental prices and fees will continue to rise; and the city will continue to lose customers to alternate gaming destinations. More and more people will decide to stay home rather than drive hundreds of miles for the degraded and overpriced Las Vegas experience. At some point this will impact the bottom line, and the bean counters will wonder what went wrong.

    I went to Las Vegas several times a year for over 30 years. Since the turn of the century, my Las Vegas visits have dropped to once or twice a year, and one of those is the WSOP. I predict that this trend will also continue, for me and for many others.

    Until then, maybe I’ll see you in Laughlin.

  • Craig Peet

    is there a bigger fraud on the strip than Resorts World?, the north end continues to be a graveyard of flops!

  • Kevin Rackley

    I predict I will be in Vegas for the Final Four (it’s a sports thing, Scott). I will go further out on the limb and predict I’ll be buzzed most of that time.

  • Funkhouser_1

    12. The Year Casinos Stop Giving Comped Drinks – I think this is still a bit out there to move to reality. The whole bar comp drink thing is still being evaluated. This past trip I got to talk to a few bartenders at VP bartops around Vegas. The message was the same, while the freeloaders have been sent along their way. Loyal players in the casino card systems have been vocalizing their displeasure, a few bartenders told me they had been given discretion to comp high tier card players. Recently on the casino floor at CET property I would have to pay 2.50 for a redbull, as soon as I identified myself as a Diamond player the fee was magically gone. I think the casinos are walking a fine line here and won’t be ready to alienate a segment of their customer base. I expect they will tighten on what gets comp’d and charging for certain mixers, but loyal players will continue to see the booze flow freely in 2017.