Monthly Archives: July 2017

18 Fremont Update: Vegas Vickie Relocates, Last Hurrah at Mermaids and Las Vegas Club, Demolition News

There’s a lot going on at downtown’s 18 Fremont block, and we’ve got all the latest scoop you won’t find anywhere else.

The 18 Fremont block is home to the closed Las Vegas Club, Mermaids casino and Glitter Gulch. The entire block is being demolished to build a new casino-resort.

First up, the iconic Vegas Vickie sign was removed from the infamous Glitter Gulch strip club facade.

Vegas Vickie removal

We trust those feelings you’re having are nostalgia. Freak.

Vegas Vickie was installed in 1980, the brainchild of Las Vegas character Bob Stupak. She was the counterpart to another great neon sign, Vegas Vic. The duo were symbolically “married” in a ceremony in 1994 to mark the construction of the Fremont Street Experience.

While Vickie’s name has been spelled in a variety of ways over the years (Vicky, Vicki), Vickie is, indeed, the proper spelling.

Vegas Vickie

Seriously, what is wrong with you?

It’s been widely misreported Vegas Vickie was originally called Sassy Sally. First, the Sassy Sally’s casino was half-a-block away (where Mermaids now sits) from Vickie’s perch. Second, Vickie was installed a year before the Sundance West casino became Sassy Sally’s.

Vegas Vickie’s suffered a good deal of damage over the years, so it looked like she might be demolished with the surrounding buildings. The new owners of the sign, Derek and Greg Stevens, decided to invest in safely removing her, anyway.

Removal of Vegas Vickie alone is said to have cost in the range of $11,000.

The plan is to keep Vegas Vickie in storage so she can be restored and mounted again, all due respect.

Vegas Vickie's leg

Vegas Vickie’s once-kicking leg left on its own truck. The leg stopped kicking about six months after she was installed. It was never repaired.

We’ve heard estimates for Vegas Vickie’s restoration are around $125,000.

One of the biggest mysteries has been where Vegas Vickie will ultimately end up.

Early in the design process of the 18 Fremont project, it was thought Vegas Vickie might be integrated into the resort. Her imposing size, 25 feet tall, made that impractical.

Vegas Vickie

‘Til we meet again.

One of the options considered was the site of a “Welcome to Fabulous Downtown Las Vegas” sign that was destroyed by a reckless driver. That location, at South Fourth Street and Las Vegas Boulevard North, is a fairly crappy one and would make for a poor, and potentially dangerous, photo op.

Here’s a look at Vegas Vickie as she rides off into the sunset. For now, anyway.

Any number of entities have shown interest in Vegas Vickie, but we’re hearing the most likely scenario is she’ll return to Fremont Street.

We’ve got exclusive renderings of where Vegas Vickie is most likely to end up, on a landing platform for the SlotZilla zipline, just a few feet from the new resort at 18 Fremont.

Vegas Vickie

This is one of two possible positions for Vegas Vickie when she makes her return to Fremont Street. The new resort will be in the direction her leg is pointing.

In another rendering, we can see how Vegas Vickie will look if she’s positioned to jut out over Main Street.

Vegas Vickie

Vegas Vickie will soon be back, alive and kicking, at least metaphorically.

There’s no timeline for when Vegas Vickie might be back, but casino executives are working with the City of Las Vegas and Bob Stupak’s son, Nevada Stupak, to bring her back to Fremont.

As for the other classic signs on the site, like the Golden Goose and Glitter Gulch signs, their fate will lie in the hands of the demolition company. They will ultimately decide if the signs can be salvaged, and can give them away or sell them at their discretion.

It’s believed the facades of these buildings will stay up throughout the demolition process. They’ll keep the street from looking like a construction site, as well as helping to block dust from the demolition.

18 Fremont demolition

Dibs on an egg.

See the photo gallery at the bottom of this story for more photos of Vegas Vickie’s removal.

While Vegas Vickie has grabbed much of the spotlight at 18 Fremont lately, there’s a lot more going on.

While the Las Vegas Club and Mermaids casinos closed back in June 2016, a quirky gaming license regulation resulted in them opening up again recently. For eight hours each.

Las Vegas Club temporary casino

Eight hours of casino is better than zero hours of casino.

That’s right, both Las Vegas Club and Mermaids opened for a few hours on June 27 and June 28, 2017.

To satisfy the gaming regulation, and maintain the gaming licenses for the sites, the casino hired a third party vendor, United Coin Machine, to set up 16 slot machines inside the physical footprint of each casino.

Las Vegas Club temporary casino

Enjoy. It’s the last time you’ll get to see inside the Las Vegas Club.

It’s hugely expensive for a casino to go through this silly exercise (think five times more than it took to remove Vegas Vickie), but rules is rules.

Ironically, despite the cost, the owners of the casino don’t get to keep the revenue generated by the “pop-up” casinos. It doesn’t amount to much, but still.

Mermaids temporary casino

Ditto Mermaids.

We had to try our luck at each of the pop-up casinos, of course, and are pleased to report we bucked the odds and hit four-of-a-kind at the Las Vegas Club.

Las Vegas Club four of a kind

Mojo is mojo, no matter how brief.

In the words of our attendant, “You’re the last person to ever win money at the Las Vegas Club.” Immortality ensured. (Although, it was arguably already ensured when we had the very last deep fried Oreos ever served at Mermaids.)

If you’re a Las Vegas casino nerd, you’ll be interested to know the temporary casinos don’t use a TITO (ticket in, ticket out) system, but rather accept cash and pay jackpots in cash.

Mermaids temporary casino

Our last fling at Mermaids.

This practice of temporary casinos is a time-honored, masturbatory ritual in Las Vegas. It’s sort of like smog checks. Everyone knows it’s a racket, but nobody seems to know how to make it stop.

Up next at 18 Fremont: Demolition.

We recently laid out the way the demolition will happen, in phases, with the entire block eventually being leveled, including the Las Vegas Club’s two hotel towers.

18 Fremont demolition

Destruction will take place in this order: 1. Granite Gaming office. 2. Mermaids, Glitter Gulch. 3. Las Vegas Club casino. 4. Parking structure. 5. Old tower. 6. New tower.

The first building to be demolished in this phase of the process is the former office of Granite Gaming (see below), the previous owner of Mermaids and Glitter Gulch. That demolition begins July 17, 2017.

Preparation for the demolition has been in the works for months, including a key step recently, as utilities were capped off. You can see traces of that work on the street between Binion’s and the Granite Gaming building.

Bid farewell to that little building on the upper right.

Demolition of the block actually began back in February 2017, but now the project begins in earnest.

In case you missed it in the photo caption above, each building on the 18 Fremont block will be meticulously taken down, with Mermaids and Glitter Gulch next (late July), then the Las Vegas Club’s casino (early August), the parking garage (late August), then the two hotel towers (starting in early September). It’s expected the demolition will be complete by the end of 2017.

Sorry, no implosions. All the structures will be taken down with demolition equipment, including the largest crane of its kind in the world.

Update (7/17/17): Demolition crews wasted no time in taking down the Granite Gaming building.

18 Fremont demolition

Given the time it took for this building to disappear, we predict this demolition is going to be way ahead of schedule.

Here’s a better view of the demolition on July 17, 2017.

Update (7/19/17): Crews appear to be ahead of schedule, as Glitter Gulch has already bitten the dust.

Glitter Gulch demolition

The demolition of Glitter Gulch strip club is the Silkwood shower we’ve all been looking forward to.

While we’re in the neighborhood, it’s probably a good time to check in on the expansion at Golden Gate, just across Fremont Street.

Golden Gate has announced the expansion to its casino, in the former La Bayou footprint, will debut on August 25, 2017.

Golden Gate expansion

The expansion at Golden Gate will blend seamlessly with the existing building, the oldest hotel in Las Vegas.

We’ve heard some juicy details about the Golden Gate expansion, including the fact the new space will feature a chandelier made up of dozens of video screens.

(Update 7/20/17): Here’s a first look at what the Golden Gate’s new facade will look like, including a peek at the video chandelier.

Golden Gate casino expansion rendering

Golden Gate is going to need to hire someone just to keep track of all the remotes.

The first floor of the expanded space will add another 100 slots to the casino. Golden Gate currently has 361 slots. The second floor of the expansion will be used for storage and distribution of liquor to the casino, expected to save the casino about $100,000 a year.

Golden Gate expansion

You thought we were going to do this entire story without a security breach? Do you know this blog at all?

There’s a metric hell-ton going on downtown, and the demolition and construction of the new resort at 18 Fremont will be fun to watch.

And watch we will.

Check this blog often for all the latest news. It’s not like you’re all that into your job, anyway.

Vegas Vickie Relocated, More at 18 Fremont

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Wynn Las Vegas, Encore to Begin Paid Parking Aug. 7, 2017

Two of the few remaining Las Vegas Strip resorts without paid parking, Wynn Las Vegas and Encore, will begin charging on Aug. 7, 2017.

Customers will have to pay for parking whether they use valet or self-park.

There’s been a charge for valet parking for several months. Valet fees are going up. Valet will cost $15 for up to four hours, $20 for 4-24 hours and $20 for each additional 24 hours. (Those rates are $2 higher than when they were first announced in Nov. 2016.)

Now, brace yourself.

Fees for self-parking will be: $7 for 1-2 hours, $12 for 2-4 hours, $15 for 4-24 hours and $15 for each additional 24 hours.

While there are no specifics yet, certain levels of play in the Wynn and Encore Red Card loyalty program will warrant free parking, a common practice at Las Vegas casino resorts on The Strip. Wynn has officially said, “Parking is validated for Red Card members under certain circumstances.”

Wynn Encore paid parking

Hey, Wynn and Encore held out longer than most, so there’s that.

The start of paid parking at Wynn and Encore has been anticipated for some time.

The first major Strip company to “break the seal” of charging parking fees, traditionally free at Las Vegas casino resorts, was MGM Resorts back in 2016.

The other major casino company in Las Vegas to institute paid parking was Caesars Entertainment, in early 2017.

Cosmopolitan began its paid parking program in June 2017.

While the list of Las Vegas Strip casinos with free parking continues to dwindle, you can still park free at Stratosphere, SLS Las Vegas, Circus Circus, Venetian and Palazzo, Treasure Island and Tropicana.

The major shopping malls on The Strip (often adjoining resorts) also continue to offer free parking, including Fashion Show Mall, The Shops at Crystals and The Shoppes at Mandalay Place.

Las Vegas Monopoly

You knew we’d share this classic again. Read the full story.

Fees for paid parking have resulted in a windfall for Las Vegas casinos which, remarkably, had not turned a profit for eight consecutive years prior to 2016 when they broke their losing streak.

While paid parking isn’t a welcome cultural shift in Las Vegas, revenue from gambling isn’t what it used to be (gambling once paid for perks like free parking), so we have to collectively help pay for all the shiny, pretty things in the most exciting city in the world.

Update (7/14/17): Wynn Las Vegas has confirmed our story. See the FAQ on the official Wynn Web site.

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Double Murderer O.J. Simpson’s Las Vegas Crime Scene Is Being Demolished at Palace Station

One of the proudest moments in Nevada history was when a Las Vegas judge and jury put double murderer O.J. Simpson behind bars.

While the court system failed in 1995, it was redeemed in 2008. Exactly 13 years, to the day, after Simson was acquitted of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman’s murders, he was sentenced by a Las Vegas judge to nine-to-33 years for being a world-class asshat.

Well, that and 10 other charges including kidnapping, armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon.

Now, the hotel room where Simpson’s crimes took place, at Palace Station in Las Vegas, is being demolished.

The demolition is part of a larger project at Palace Station, and we’ve got all the demolition porn you could possibly ever want.

Palace Station demolition

Las Vegas is always making new things. It often makes a mess first.

An entire swath of Palace Station is being leveled.

Palace Station demolition

This whole area used to be a thing. Now, not so much.

The extensive Palace Station demolition includes the resort’s Courtyard Rooms.

It was in room 1203 in Palace Station’s courtyard complex that O.J. Simpson and his six bumbling cohorts confronted two sports memorabilia dealers, leading to Simpson’s arrest, conviction and incarceration in the Lovelock Correctional Center in Lovelock, Nevada.

Palace Station demolition

The stories those headboards could tell.

Here’s a look at where room 1203 resides. But not for long.

Palace Station demolition

It’s time to bid farewell to a Las Vegas landmark. We trust that giant red arrow will be demolished as well.

Here’s a handy map of the former Courtyard Rooms at Palace Station in case you’re a Las Vegas nerd.

Room 1203 became inexorably linked to Simpson’s downfall when jurors made a secret field trip to Palace Station in September 2008. Judge Jackie Glass apparently felt it was important for the jurors to see the site of Simpson’s misdeeds.

For a time, Palace Station kept room 1203 off-limits to guests. Over time, though, guests could stay in the infamous room.

O.J. Simpson’s crimes weren’t limited to the murders of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman, of course. He is responsible for the rise to fame of the Kardashian family, also an unforgivable transgression.

The demolition of its Courtyard Rooms (ah, the irony) is part of a multi-million-dollar renovation project at the 41-year-old, off-Strip casino.

If you look closely, you can see the remnants of the resort’s train theme. The theme is being phased out as part of the overhaul.

The renovations have already resulted in a new valet area and bingo room, among other changes.

O.J. Simpson has a parole hearing on July 20, 2017, and we can only hope his being a model prisoner will have no impact on the decision to let him continue to rot in jail. The former athlete has served nine years to-date.

Palace Station demolition

We are not cleaning this up.

Big thanks to eagle-eyed reader Troy S. for bringing this story to our attention.

Here’s a plethora of photos from the Palace Station demolition.

Demolition at Palace Station

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Rideshare Drivers Reap Windfall From Legalized Weed

Vegas can’t help but be Vegas, so it’s perhaps no surprise Lyft and Uber drivers are getting some of the perks of their taxi-driving counterparts.

It’s an integral part of Las Vegas culture for cabbies to get kick-backs from places like strip clubs. Drop off customers, get cash from the strip club. (This is why it’s smart, by the way, to tell cashiers at strip clubs you’re a Las Vegas local or that you arrived in your personal vehicle. When they don’t pay the kick-back, your cost of entry is lower.)

Now, that time-honored Las Vegas custom is creating a windfall for Lyft and Uber drivers.

We’ve learned marijuana dispensaries are handing out hefty cash perks for drivers who deliver customers to their doors. Recreational marijuana became legal in Nevada on July 1, 2017, and demand has been high ever since. We’ll wait.

While we don’t know the exact dollar amount for Uber drivers, a Lyft driver confirmed they get $25 for any customer they deliver to a dispensary. The driver gets $15 for each additional passenger.

Uber Lyft sign

Las Vegas strip clubs pay taxi drivers as much as $120 for each passenger they deliver. Step up your game, weed dispensaries.

Our source says that on certain days, as many as 20% of his customers ask to be dropped at a marijuana dispensary.

The dispensaries pay the kick-backs in cash at the time of drop-off, often from a stand outside the establishment.

That’s a pretty sweet incentive to steer customers to a given dispensary, especially when you consider the average Lyft fare is about $12. The average fare for an Uber driver hovers around $16.

We’re not aware of any prohibition of such practices by the rideshare companies.

20 dollar bill

Not gonna lie, somebody’s being super judgmental right now.

We trust cabbies are getting a piece of the action as well, but have yet to hear a first-hand account along those lines.

Rideshare services have changed the transportation game in Las Vegas in a variety of ways, and getting financial perks from marijuana dispensaries has been an unexpected boost for this budding industry.

Sorry, burgeoning. We probably meant burgeoning.

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Glee, Skepticism Battle It Out at Resorts World

New signs of life at the long-delayed Resorts World project site have been received with cautious optimism by Las Vegas observers.

Resorts World recently erected its first construction crane, sparking hope the project is moving forward as promised by the Malaysia-based Genting Group behind the $4 billion resort.

Resorts World crane

Well, hello, sexy.

Resorts World sits on the site of the abandoned Echelon Place project. Before that, it was home to the Stardust.

Before the economic downturn, cranes dotted the Las Vegas skyline. Now, not so much.

Let’s take another look at this bad boy.

Resorts World crane

Quite tall, but suited to light work. We’ll take it.

Genting officials had promised cranes this summer to start on the casino’s “podium” and hotel towers. It’s expected 1,000 construction workers will be on-site in 2018.

The company also claims a good deal of work has been done at the site already, including installing utility lines and building a parking garage.

Resorts World crane

Here’s a look at the site from the Circus Circus side. It’s full of not a lot happening.

Resorts World is still shooting for a 2020 opening, but that date has been pushed back several times, causing concern Resorts World might fall victim to the same financing challenges that killed the Alon project and continue to plague the All Net Resort and Arena.

Genting Group has a long track record of successful projects, and was founded back in 1965. The company hired a casino veteran to help the project, Edward Farrell, president of Resorts World Las Vegas. Farrell helped open the Mirage in 1989.

The Resorts World Las Vegas team works out of Genting’s offices in Miami, Florida.

Resorts World crane

Let’s just think of this as the “before” photo. It’s more fun that way. Here’s a bigger version.

Some decorative flourishes have appeared recently on one of the Resorts World towers.

Check them out.

Resorts World

We have no idea what those are, but that’s beside the point. They’re new.

Let’s get in close, already.

Resorts World

We figure these facade pieces are like sample paint patches, a way of giving the colors a try before you commit.

Resorts World will have two hotel towers, one with 1,800 rooms and one with 1,400. When it broke ground back in May 2015, the resort was supposed to have 5,000 rooms.

The resort’s theme will be “modern Chinese,” another change from what was originally announced. At first, the resort was going to have a more traditional, Forbidden City-style, Asian theme.

Whatever it ends up being, we’re just glad to see Resorts World becoming something.

We’re ready to once again set aside our skepticism because of our deep and abiding love for shiny new things.

As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts.

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Free Downtown Loop Shuttle Service Launches

There’s a new way to get around downtown Las Vegas, and it’s free.

The Downtown Loop shuttle service is a six-month pilot program paid for by the City of Las Vegas.

The service runs daily, and bumps uglies (probably not the official term) with seven stops in downtown Las Vegas.

Downtown Loop Las Vegas

The folks at Pawn Plaza and the Mob Museum must know a guy.

The Downtown Loop stops at Bonneville Transit Center, The Arts District, Pawn Plaza, Fremont East (on Las Vegas Boulevard, south of Fremont Street), the Mob Museum, Fremont Street Experience (Main Street, south of Fremont) and Las Vegas North Premium Outlets.

The free shuttle runs from 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday, 3:00 p.m. to midnight on Friday and Saturday and 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Sundays. The 19-passenger buses hit their stops about every 20 minutes.

The new shuttle is a great way to explore parts of downtown you might not otherwise venture to, especially Fremont East, the Mob Museum and Pawn Plaza.

The shuttle costs a pretty penny, $550,000 ($275,000 for the first six months with an option to extend), but would likely be continued if deemed successful, based upon ridership and economic impact.

It remains to be seen what the interest level is. It’s likely the City of Las Vegas will want businesses benefiting from the shuttles to pay for them if they become a permanent offering.

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