Nevada Dumps 25-Foot “Moat” Rule for Shows, It’s a Big Deal

State officials have nixed a ridiculous rule that required a 25-foot “moat” between performers and audience members at Las Vegas shows.

The rule meant dozens of shows couldn’t break even, especially coupled with extreme capacity rules.

Reversal of this rule opens the floodgates for Las Vegas shows to return.

Atomic Saloon

Lots of mid-sized shows like “Atomic Saloon” are expected to return now. They should offer tickets for $69.

In other fairly common sense changes, the minimum distance between masked performers has been reduced to six feet. If performers are unmasked, they must be at least 12 feet apart.

These changes are effective immediately, or as it’s known in entertainment circles, “a substantial number of months later than they should’ve been in effect.”

A majority of Las Vegas shows have been closed for a year, a painful irony given Las Vegas is often touted as being the “Entertainment Capital of the World.”

Even prior to the latest rule changes, several shows returned to the stage, with more planned,  but removal of the 25-foot rule should spark a new wave of reopenings.

And if you’ve ever tried to spark a wave, you know how difficult that can be.

A year of downtime has been tough for performers, producers, technicians and myriad others involved with Las Vegas shows. It’ll be great to see them doing their thing again, and we may even hold off on writing bad reviews for awhile just to give them a minute to regain their footing.

Emphasis on “might.” Looking at you, Gordie Brown.

Cheffini’s Hot Dogs Closes at Downtown Container Park, Simply Pure to Follow

A beloved hot dog spot, Cheffini’s Hot Dogs, has closed at Downtown Container Park.

A vegan restaurant in the same modular shopping center, Simply Pure, will close March 31, 2021.

Simply Pure served up one of the best lasagnas in Las Vegas, vegan or otherwise, for seven years.

Simply Pure lasagna

Now, where will we get our guilt-free lasagna?

Cheffini’s Hot Dogs says it will continue to operate its hot dog cart outside El Cortez.

Fans of the dogs can check out Cheffini’s Facebook page.

Cheffini’s opened in 2014, in the short-lived Pork & Beans space.

Container Park mantis

The Downtown Container Park is located downtown. Oh, like you even read these photo captions.

The owner of Simply Pure, Stacey Dougan, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal “she will continue cooking, with an emphasis on catering, personal meal prep and meal delivery services.”

These restaurant closures are concerning as they could signal challenges on the horizon for Downtown Container Park.

The pandemic has been tough enough, but the untimely passing of visionary Tony Hsieh raises lots of questions about Downtown Container Park and downtown overall. Downtown Container Park is managed by Downtown Project (now called DTP), and Tony Hsieh’s vision and financial support were integral to the creation, and some would say survival, of the shopping center.

Downtown Container Park

The times they are a’changin’ downtown.

Tony Hsieh’s family recently made it known a whopping 90 of his downtown properties are up for sale, including Downtown Container Park, Fergusons Downtown and the headquarters of online retailer Zappos.

Tony Hsieh was the glue that held these developments and innumerable small businesses together, and now many are left to fend for themselves. Expect more changes in the weeks and months to come.

Venetian, Palazzo and Sands Expo Sold for $6.25 Billion

Las Vegas Sands Corp. has sold Venetian, Palazzo and Sands Expo and Convention Center for $6.25 billion.

The buyers are Apollo Global Management and Vici Property.

Venetian Las Vegas gondola

“Iconic” gets thrown around a lot, but we can’t think of a better way to describe Venetian.

The sale follows the recent death of casino mogul Sheldon Adelson.

With this sale, Las Vegas Sands is effectively out of the casino business in Las Vegas.

In layperson’s terms: “Just wow.” Or possibly, “Just wow, bro.” Take your pick.

Las Vegas Sands will now turn its attention to Asia, where the company derives most of its revenue.

Venetian and Palazzo will keep their names.

Rumors about a Venetian sale have been swirling since Oct. 2020, including those related to who the potential buyer could be. We should know, we swirled a good number of them.

Venetian sale

Sharing news first is like gambling. You only share the winners.

The ultimate winner of quest to acquire Venetian and Palazzo went to Apollo and Vici, and this was no “everything must go” sale. The price tag was $6.5 billion, or 13x pre-pandemic EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization), which industry experts agree was a strong vote of confidence about a Las Vegas rebound, especially in the area of conventions.

In the deal, Vici gets the resort for $4 billion. Apollo gets the operations of the Venetian for $2.25 billion.

This kind of deal has become common in Las Vegas, and is not unlike the joint venture between MGM Growth Properties and Blackstone. MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay and others have a similar ownership/management arrangement.

Apollo will pay $250 million a year in rent to Vici.

Venetian

Inny.

Apollo and Vici are familiar entities to Vegas watchers.

Private equity firms Apollo and TPG Capital owned Caesars Entertainment for a decade. Let’s just say it wasn’t all smooth sailing.

Among the highlights: Creditors claimed Apollo and TPG stripped Caesars of billions of dollars of assets prior to the casino company filing for Chapter 11 in January 2015. Read more about the glorious drama.

Vici Properties is a real estate investment trust, a spin-off of Caesars Entertainment. At last count, Vici owns 28 casinos. Those casinos include Caesars Palace and Harrah’s, as well as many other much less interesting casinos because, well, they aren’t in Las Vegas.

The Dorsey Venetian

This is the waitstaff at The Dorsey. It’s at Venetian, so it’s totally relevant to this story.

All the confounding financial aspects aside, the real question is: How will this affect your next visit to Venetian and Palazzo?

The answer: It probably won’t.

We could’ve just said that earlier, but this story would only be two paragraphs long and you’d just end up getting into trouble with all that additional free time. You’re welcome.

The focus for Apollo and Vici will be conventions, as was the case with Las Vegas Sands.

While convention business took a massive hit during the pandemic, Apollo and Vici are positioned to take advantage of what’s expected to be a convention boom in the months to come. Las Vegas Sands was less optimistic about how quickly conventions will return, but a lot of hopes are resting upon midweek business coming back stronger than ever as the pandemic recedes.

Sands Expo Las Vegas

The Sands Expo was built in 1990. The Venetian sits on the site of the former Sands Hotel.

It’s surreal to think about the Las Vegas Strip without Sheldon Adelson and Las Vegas Sands.

The Las Vegas Sands headquarters is expected to stay in Las Vegas, but Venetian and Palazzo being sold is a symbolic end of an era.

Venetian and Palazzo are two of our favorite Las Vegas casinos, for their sheer beauty, variety of restaurants and bars, as well as their outstanding service levels.

Here’s hoping Apollo and Vici will continue to keep Venetian and Palazzo the extraordinary destinations they are.

First item of business. Fix this wrap! Long story.

Venetian torn wrap

There was hope Venetian might finish St. Regis tower. Now, not so much.

While the sale of Venetian and Palazzo made headlines, it’s worth noting the Las Vegas Review-Journal, owned by Sheldon Adelson’s News + Media Capital Group, seems likely to change hands soon as well.

Whoever said “May you live in interesting times” wasn’t kidding.

Caesars Entertainment Pulls Plug On Its Blog, Formerly Pulse of Vegas

Caesars Entertainment has unceremoniously killed off its Total Vegas blog with zero fanfare. We’re pretty sure “unceremoniously” and “zero fanfare” mean the same thing, but we are emotionally distraught right now, so give us a break.

In 2012, the Caesars Entertainment blog—called the Pulse of Vegas blog at that time—was named the best corporate blog in the entire country.

We should know, we were the one who did the Pulse of Vegas blog.

Yes, that’s what the kids call a “humblebrag.” But sort of without the “humble” part.

Pulse of Vegas blog

It’s the end of an era all over again.

The Caesars Entertainment blog launched as Pulse of Vegas in 2009, then was redesigned in 2014 and rebranded to Total Vegas.

Over time, the Total Vegas blog became largely a repository for news releases and one-note promotional content. We honestly can’t recall the last time we saw someone sharing a story from the blog.

Basically, we suspect the Caesars blog ended without fanfare because it had so few fans.

The site’s old address results in a dreaded 404 error.

Caesars blog

All links to the former Caesars blog now redirect to the company’s main Web site. Because they want to see us openly weep.

A little inside baseball: Corporate blogs often experience a vicious cycle. Too few resources are devoted to content marketing, and if you don’t have the right people involved in oversight and execution (driven by passion, as the best blogs are), returns can be perceived as small. You also have to know how to measure results, as they aren’t always dollars.

When executives don’t see a return (content marketing isn’t really in their wheelhouse), they trim the budget further and a blog starts to take a back seat to other, more pressing, matters. The corporate blog becomes less relevant, reach and engagement wane and it doesn’t take an M.B.A. to see the writing on the wall.

It’s possible the demise of the Caesars blog was also the result of new ownership of the company. This move may have been one of those “synergies” (code for “cost-cutting”) Eldorado Resorts has talked about.

Total Vegas blog

There were some talented writers at the Total Vegas blog, but their talents were wasted. A lack of vision will do that.

While the Caesars Entertainment blog dropped off the map in recent years, we still have great memories of some content nobody else has floated, before or since.

One item that leaps to mind was an April Fools’ story about Caesars Entertainment purchasing the Grand Canyon. We were shocked the then-CEO of Caesars, Gary Loveman, signed on and even approved a quote for the story.

That was followed up by stories with the headlines “Flamingo Pool Shark Startles Some Hotel Guests” and “Las Vegas Casinos Will Enforce High-Five Ban.”

We also did a story about alternative ways of using your hotel shower cap. Not your typical casino marketing, to say the least.

Those were the days.

Mac King shower cap

We love you, Mac King. No goldfish or magicians were harmed in the taking of this photo.

The Pulse of Vegas blog was a noble experiment, but the fact is Caesars Entertainment didn’t quite know what to make of it. The tone was snarky, and while many companies embrace humor in their social media channels, Caesars not so much.

Because we suspected Caesars might balk at the blog’s unconventional voice, we wrote 100 posts before it ever went live. We figured at that point, it would be tough to justify trying to water down the irreverent tone.

The Pulse of Vegas blog also broke ground in that it veered away from overtly selling anything. The focus was on providing value and entertaining readers.

One of the biggest mistakes companies make in social marketing is constantly talking about themselves. (For example, the “Total Vegas” blog name was disingenuous because the blog wasn’t about Las Vegas, it was almost exclusively about Caesars Entertainment. They were doing “total” wrong.)

In that vein, we once wrote a blog post congratulating the Circus Circus steakhouse on its anniversary. It was an SEO (search engine optimization) strategy to lure visitors searching for information about the best Las Vegas steakhouses. The problem: Circus Circus and its steakhouse aren’t owned by Caesars Entertainment. In one meeting, we thought someone’s head might actually explode.

The Pulse of Vegas blog may have been a tad ahead of its time.

Don’t get us started about how much search traffic Caesars Entertainment is losing by removing its blog content—hundreds of search term rich articles and thousands of photos—entirely.

Our time at the helm of the Caesars Entertainment blog ended in July 2013. Let’s chalk it up to “creative differences.”

O'Sheas Lucky

We feel like Lucky when O’Sheas closed.

We will always have memories of the crazy stories and resulting buzz. We’ll always have fond memories of the small band of troublemakers who handled the site’s technical side and design. They were our biggest cheerleaders and truly understood what blogging could and did do, at least for a time.

While the blog is no longer accessible on the Caesars Entertainment Web site, there’s always the Wayback Machine. It’s fugly, but at least our precious words haven’t just disappeared into the ether.

Just search “http://blog.totalrewards.com.”

For posterity, the final Tweet from the Total Vegas Blog was Dec. 16, 2020. The blog’s last Facebook post was Dec. 20, 2020. They didn’t even bid us “adios.”

On the bright side, without the Caesars Entertainment blog, there probably wouldn’t be a Vital Vegas blog, as that’s where we discovered our love of both blogging and stirring up shit.

The rise and fall of the Caesars Entertainment blog could serve as a blueprint for what can go right and wrong with a corporate blog.

Blogs can humanize a giant company, raise brand awareness and keep existing customers engaged while attracting new ones.

If done right, corporate blogs can drive the online conversation and create a community rather than treating people like “market segments.” They can help a company to stand out, to swim past the breakers in a tsunami of digital marketing froth. No wonder we’ve won so many awards, humblebragwise.

Corporate blogs are the art of marketing without marketing.

POV blog Caesars

For one brief shining moment there was nonsense.

We’re saying all this because so many Las Vegas casinos are missing the boat. They treat social media, including blogging, like advertising. Even worse, like public relations. There’s little interest in sparking conversation or providing entertaining content that gets people excited about their resorts or amenities.

At one time, the Caesars Entertainment blog was seen as a breath of fresh air, and all these years later, Vegas casinos still haven’t figured out content marketing isn’t what’s next, it’s already here. It’s just happening without them.

It’s bittersweet saying goodbye to the Caesars Entertainment blog. Not so much because of what it had become, but because of what it could have been.

15 Wildly Useless Facts About Casino Chips

We love casino chips! Here’s a hastily slapped-together collection of chip facts to stuff into your Vegas-hungry brain.

1. Chips are also called “checks” or “cheques.”

2. Nevada regulations say casino chips must be 1.55 inches in diameter (for chips used in games other than baccarat). Baccarat chips can be 1.55 inches or 1.6875 inches.

3. Regulations require Las Vegas casino chips to be .130 inch thick.

4. Gaming regulations also specify chips must be “disk-shaped.”

casino chips

Imagine the shapes we’d see if round wasn’t mandated. And we know what you’re thinking. Please grow up.

5. Chips are made from sand, chalk and clay, similar to the materials used in kitty litter.

6. One of the reasons casino chips are used is players gamble more with chips than cash. It’s not money, it’s chips!

7. Each casino’s chips have a unique design.

Strat new chips

Some of our favorite casino chips in Las Vegas.

8. Chip colors represent the chip’s value. Common colors are white ($1), red ($5), green ($25) and black ($100).

9. Chip denominations often have nicknames based upon their color. A purple $500 chip is called a “Barney.” Yellow chips, worth $1,000, are “bananas” or “canaries” or “bumblebees” (some casinos use orange, they’re “pumpkins”). A $5,000 chip is a “flag” (red, white and blue). “Melons” are worth $25,000. At Bellagio, they’re “cranberries.”

10. After a casino closes, customers have 120 days to redeem their chips. After that, they’re SOL.

11. Chip collectors grade the quality of chips with these designations: New (N), Slightly Used (SU), Average (A), Well Used (WU), Poor (P), Canceled or Modified (Can/Mod) and Damaged (Dam).

Casino chip design

Casino chips sometimes serve as snark delivery devices.

12. Casino chip collecting falls under the category of “numismatics,” the study or collection of currency (coins, tokens, paper money and related objects). To get even more specific, chip collecting is considered “exonumia,” the area of numismatics that focuses on items that are not
legal tender.

13. In the late 1800s, higher value chips were blue. That’s where we get the term “blue chip stocks.”

14. One of the security measures used in casino chips is RFID technology. Embedded RFID tags (most often used in high value chips) broadcast unique identifiers over radio frequencies. RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification. RFID tags allow casinos to keep track of chips, monitor play and even thwart thieves. For example, when an asshat robbed Bellagio, his $1.5 million in chips were rendered worthless when the casino turned off the RFID chips.

15. Adding chips to your bet after an outcome (such as the ball landing in a pocket at roulette) is a method of cheating called “capping.” Removing chips is called “pinching.” It’s also known as “not very smart.”

Bonus chip trivia: A chip made famous by the Game Show Network series “Catch 21” is called the “Power Chip.” We should know. We were on the show and won five grand.

Catch 21

Yes, that’s Carlton. No, we didn’t do the dance.

The advent of electronic games has eliminated chips in some games, but there’s still nothing quite like the feel of chips when you’re in the middle of an epic craps roll.

Roll to Win Craps Las Vegas

Craps with dice is like Kanye without Kim. Yes, we consume pop culture. It’s not always about Las Vegas, you know.

The sound of clicking chips is so intertwined with casinos, it simply wouldn’t be the same without them.

The COVID-19 crisis has inspired casinos to clean their chips much more frequently, a practice that should continue into the future as some had not cleaned their chips since the Carter administration.

When people think of Las Vegas things, casino chips are often at the top of the list. Right after stripper poles.

If you’re into casino paraphernalia, you’ll want to check out 11 Casino Dice Security Measures to Keep Players From Cheating.

Virgin Las Vegas Confirms Free Parking, Free WiFi, No Resort Fees

Virgin Las Vegas resort, opening March 25, 2021, has confirmed it will have free Wi-Fi, no parking fees and (wait for it) no resort fees.

The company has reiterated its brand-wide “No Nickel-and-Diming” policy, and has even said it will have “street priced” minibars (the drinks and snacks in your hotel room).

What? No $21 bottles of Fiji water? The audacity! (Looking at you, Aria.)

Virgin shout

Break out the cutlets, Virgin guests will have something to shout about: No resort fees.

That’s pretty much the most shocking news of 2021 so far, and we are a little concerned some Las Vegas visitors might go into shock due to the sheer lack of gouging.

We’ve been ranting about the nickel-and-diming thing for ages, and it was only a matter of time before a Las Vegas resort got a clue and dumped these annoying fees.

It’s a great marketing hook and, as the kids say, “market differentiator.” Hey, the kids are really dank with the marketing.

Now, more than ever, resorts need to make Las Vegas a value again.

We floated this wishlist awhile back, and it’s refreshing to see Virgin Las Vegas embracing this concept.

make Vegas a value

Sometimes, wishes come true.

While there have been one-off promotions touting no resort fees, very few Las Vegas casino hotels avoid them altogether. Four Queens and Hotel Apache (Binion’s) downtown, as well as Casino Royale on The Strip, spring to mind. Sadly, it’s not hard to memorize the list.

Some Vegas watchers may be wondering if Virgin’s no resort fees policy will stick, as they recall the Caesars Entertainment “Angry Showgirls” no resort fees fiasco. The company paraded showgirls down the Las Vegas Strip, but later jumped on the resort fees bandwagon. It was awkward.

No resort fees rally

Ah, no resort fees. Those were the good old minute.

The “Angry Showgirls” debacle topped our list of 10 Regrettable Las Vegas Mistakes.

In the case of Virgin Las Vegas, though, as we mentioned, the “No Nickel-and-Diming” policy is brand-wide. It’s sort of baked into the Virgin Hotels ethos, so it’s doubtful the resort would backtrack down the road.

Of course, fees don’t just magically disappear, and the room rates at Virgin will probably just have the resort fee folded in. It’s never really been about the actual cost of resort fees. Even with resort fees, Las Vegas has some of the most reasonable rates of any major destination in the world. It’s about transparency. Many travelers are just over fees they perceive as deceptive or “hidden.”

Virgin is done with that ridiculousness.

Virgin hotel Las Vegas

Tagline idea: “Resort fees suck like a Roomba on oysters.” You’re welcome, Virgin Las Vegas.

Free parking wasn’t unexpected, as Hard Rock had free parking, but it’s still a great selling point. At the moment, MGM Resorts casinos have free parking, but that’s expected to be temporary.

Free Wi-Fi, of course, will be a hit, especially if the promise is fulfilled with decent download speeds.

Kudos to Virgin for taking a stand on the issue of annoying fees. Other Las Vegas casinos need to pay heed.

Here’s what’s in store at Virgin. See a larger version on the Virgin Web site (.pdf format). You’re welcome.

We love Virgin’s commitment to “No Nickel-and-Diming” so much, we might even start referring to their rooms as “chambers.”

Wow, you totally fell for that. Do you know this blog at all?