Monthly Archives: March 2018

Hard Rock Las Vegas Sale Finally Officially Confirmed

After months of us sounding like a crazy person, the sale of Hard Rock Las Vegas has been confirmed.

A news conference was held at the Hard Rock in conjunction with the long-awaited announcement. Watch it.

The Hard Rock was purchased by Richard Branson’s Virgin Hotels in partnership with a group led by Juniper Capital Partners and Fengate Real Asset Investments along with their partners Dream, Cowie Capital Partners and other private investors.

The sale closed March 30, 2018.

How much did the Hard Rock Las Vegas resort sell for? About $500 million.

Virgin Hotels

It’s about time you showed up!

In attendance at the news conference were Richard Branson (described as a “partner” in the deal), new CEO Richard “Boz” Bosworth, Virgin Hotels CEO Raul Leal and a number of young women dancing around in bikinis.

We first got wind of the Hard Rock sale back in March 2017, then reported the involvement of Richard Branson’s Virgin Hotels earlier this year. We love when a plan comes together, no matter how long it takes.

Virgin Las Vegas

It’s officially official.

During the news conference, it was announced Hard Rock will continue to operate under its current name through 2018.

A major renovation of the resort will happen in 2019. Changes will be “phased in” according to Virgin Hotels, and the resort will officially become a Virgin Hotel in late 2019.

We’re pleased about this news as it allows us to share this rendering we made. Because chastity belts. And virgins.

Virgin Las Vegas rebrand

Hey, you keep something under wraps this long, we’re going to fill in the gaps.

“We’re going to spend hundreds of millions in transforming this property,” said Richard Bosworth of Bosworth Hospitality.

According to a news release, “The hotel will feature 1504 well-appointed Chambers, Grand Chamber Suites and Penthouse Suites; a 60,000 square foot, fully-renovated casino, multiple pools over five acres, world-class restaurants, lounges and bars, including new nightlife venues and the brand’s flagship space, the Commons Club, as well as numerous meeting and convention spaces.”

We trust “chambers” are like rooms, only more “Virginy.”

Here’s more about the sale of Hard Rock Las Vegas and its transition to Virgin Hotel.

At the news conference, as if it needed asking, one reporter asked, “Why Las Vegas?” Richard Branson said, “Virgin’s all about fun, entertainment and not taking ourselves too seriously.”

Richard Branson passed on giving specifics of the cost of Hard Rock.

While Branson didn’t get into details about the sale at the news conference, when asked about rebranding the hotel’s entertainment venues, he said, “The Joint’s got a fun name.”

Virgin Hotel Las Vegas will continue to have a casino, thankfully. A gaming partner will be announced at a later time, per Virgen Hotels CEO Raul Leal.

As for the Hard Rock’s memorabilia, it’s staying.

Richard Branson has been quoted as saying, “You’re not going to walk into slot machines the moment you walk into a Virgin Hotel like you do the Hard Rock, but we’ll be tasteful, fun, and we’ll get the right balance there. I come from the rock ‘n’ roll business, and the memorabilia is something that fortunately comes with the hotel. So it’s incredible for me to suddenly have this collection of wonderful rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia.”

Hard Rock Las Vegas

Dibs on this sign.

It’s been a tough slog for the Hard Rock recently, and this sale will breathe some much-needed new life into the resort.

Richard Branson said, “It’s been allowed to get a bit tired over the years, but it’s got fantastic staff and that’s the absolute key.”

Virgin Hotels is an intriguing brand that’s been described as “disruptive,” and Las Vegas loves disruption as much as we do.

It was fun while it lasted, Hard Rock, and welcome to Las Vegas, Virgin Hotels.

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Triple Zero Roulette Debuts at Planet Hollywood and New York-New York and Everything Is Ruined

Triple zero roulette has been introduced at two casinos in Las Vegas, Planet Hollywood and New York-New York.

Venetian got the first triple zero roulette table (two, actually) on The Strip back in Oct. 2016, and it seemed inevitable the much-reviled game would proliferate.

That it has.

Here’s a look at the triple zero roulette table at Planet Hollywood.

Triple zero roulette

On the bright side, one of the “fun facts” about roulette stays the same: The numbers on a roulette table add up to 666.

“What is triple zero roulette?” you ask.

Well, a typical roulette table in U.S. casinos has two zeros.

On a table with two zeros, the house edge is 5.26%. That’s one of the highest house advantages in the casino.

On a triple zero roulette table, the house edge jumps up to 7.69%.

See, that’s what makes a much-reviled game so reviled.

Given the odds are worse on a triple zero table, why would people play it? You ask great questions!

Typically, the minimum bet on a triple zero roulette table is lower than on a double zero table.

Yes, there are some single zero tables in Las Vegas casinos, but they tend to be reserved for big spenders. An exception is the single zero table at Cromwell. There’s a premium to be paid for the better odds, of course. The minimum bet at Cromwell is $25.

Cromwell single zero roulette

The house edge in a single zero roulette game is 2.7%. You go, Cromwell.

How did we know more triple zero games would make their way to Las Vegas casinos? Another excellent question!

We knew because players at Venetian’s triple zero roulette table (see below) didn’t care at all about the less favorable odds.

Venetian roulette

Triple zero roulette tables are often packed when double zero tables are empty.

It was the same at Planet Hollywood during our visit.

Planet Hollywood has eight roulette tables. Seven have a $15 minimum, one has a $10 minimum. The lower table minimum is more than enough to entice recreational gamblers, and casinos couldn’t be happier about it.

Before you start calling triple zero roulette players stupid, consider this: They’re not gambling to make money. They’re playing to have fun.

And here’s a confession: We had fun playing triple zero roulette at Planet Hollywood, too. And we won money to boot.

We even made money on one of the bets you’ll only find at a triple zero roulette table. It’s a bet on any of the zeros, and it pays 11-to-1.

Triple zero roulette

Big thanks to Planet Hollywood for not asking security to Taser us for taking photos.

Oh, and while we’re at it, here’s another counter-intuitive fact about triple zero roulette: It can actually make your money last longer.

It’s true!

Despite disadvantageous odds, the lower table minimum at triple zero roulette means a typical player (assuming they make the minimum bet) will lose less over time than someone betting more at a double zero roulette table.

That’ll teach you to be less judgy.

So, no, not everything is ruined. But that doesn’t mean we have to like triple zero roulette.

Triple zero roulette is a symbol of an evolution taking place in Las Vegas casinos. As gambling revenue declines, casinos have to find new and clever ways of bolstering their bottom lines.

If guests play games with a higher house edge, casinos will continue to find ways to raise them even higher.

Angry showgirl

Just about sums it up.

The irony, of course, is gambling revenue is declining because the perceived value of gambling has declined. Casinos tighten their slots, so players play slots less. Casinos change 3-to-2 blackjack games to 6-to-5, so fewer play the game. It’s a vicious cycle.

Our strategy is to play the games where we have the most fun. That way, we can spend our time being entertained rather than doing math.

We’d love to hear your thoughts. Do you care about the number of zeros on your roulette table?

Thanks to our friends at the You Can Bet on That podcast for alerting us to the triple zero roulette table at Planet Hollywood.

Updated (4/26/18): Park MGM has also introduced triple zero roulette.

 

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Wynn Boston Harbor to Rebrand as Encore Boston Harbor

We have a long-standing policy of not writing stories about places other than Las Vegas, but scoop is scoop.

Word is Steve Wynn’s name will be stripped from the Wynn Boston Harbor project.

The $2.4 billion resort will be rebranded Encore Boston Harbor, according to a reliable source.

Encore Boston Harbor

We’ve never said Wynn Resorts doesn’t make pretty things.

Reportedly, promotional videos and other marketing materials for Encore Boston Harbor are already in the works.

Wynn Resorts executives have confirmed a rebrand is coming, but have not yet officially said the resort will be Encore Boston Harbor. That’s why you have us.

The change of course with Encore Boston Harbor follows an avalanche of sexual misconduct allegations against Steve Wynn who recently stepped down as CEO of Wynn Resorts. Wynn has also been accused of rape.

Wynn sold all his stock in the company as well. Yeah, it’s big deal.

Why are we expending precious keystrokes on a resort that’s not even in Las Vegas, making it 95% less interesting?

Well, here’s why: Wynn Resorts clearly understands its brand has been tainted by the Steve Wynn scandal and is making moves to control the damage.

We say there’s a very real chance Wynn Las Vegas will also rebrand as the fallout continues. Wynn executives claim otherwise, but it’s becoming increasingly clear some executives at Wynn Resorts are full of what industry insiders refer to as “horse manure.”

Another shift in branding is the Wynn Paradise Park project, which is currently being referred to as just Paradise Park.

The latest word is Paradise Park will be completed before whatever Wynn West turns out to be, a flip from previous reports.

The odds of the hotel announced for the former Alon site has a roughly zero percent chance of being called by its original name, Wynn West.

We were the first to report the Alon site sale, as well as the fact a new resort would be built on the site. Oh, like we weren’t going to mention that.

Alon site

Here’s the former Alon site today. There’s a bit of work to be done.

Wynn Resorts finds itself in a maelstrom at the moment. The only imaginable way Wynn stays on the side of Wynn Las Vegas is if Steve Wynn’s ex-wife, Elaine Wynn, takes the reins and there’s a purge of the company’s board.

Rumors inside Wynn Resorts abound that this scenario is possible if not probable. Elaine Wynn has a 9.26% stake in the company.

It’s time to come clean and hold those who covered up decades of bad behavior accountable. Read more about the Steve Wynn allegations and enjoy your Silkwood shower.

Update (3/30/18): The Boston Herald confirmed Wynn Resorts has registered multiple domain names based upon Encore Boston Harbor.

Update (4/27/18): Wynn Resorts has confirmed its plans to rename Wynn Boston Harbor to Encore Boston Harbor.

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Here’s What’s Really Happening at Resorts World

Resorts World. It’s an enigma.

The Asian-themed resort from Genting Group is being built on the bones of the abandoned Echelon Place project.

Resorts World broke ground on May 5, 2015. Since then, progress on the bajillion-dollar resort has been agonizingly slow.

Here’s a look at Resorts World today.

Resorts World Las Vegas

Resorts World seems to be perpetually preparing for something to happen.

Oh, yes, there are cranes.

They showed up in late 2017, creating a warmth in our loin we had not experienced in some time given the repeated delays in construction of the $4 billion, 3,000-room hotel-casino.

The arrival of the cranes at Resorts World followed on the heels of hoopla about a construction manager being hired, as well as word Genting had finalized $400 million in contracts with vendors.

Anticipation was at an all-time high that Resorts World would actually be a thing.

Then came months and months of not a whole lot.

Resorts World has said publicly there are 400 workers on the site now.

Resorts World Las Vegas

It was on the Internet, it must be true.

From our observations, Resorts World either has a counting problem or a lying problem. Since casinos never lie, we’ll just assume the official Resorts World abacus is in the shop.

Here’s a look at the Resorts World site.

Four hundred constructions workers? The over/under was about a dozen during our most recent visit.

Resorts World claimed it would have 1,000 construction workers on-site by early 2018. Yeah, not so much.

Unless the construction workers at Resorts World are wearing cloaks of invisibility, it appears the only thing Resorts World is building at the moment is an exemplary record of horseshittery.

Still, there are some symbolic things happening at Resorts World. Beyond the crane theater, that is.

For the most part, those things are orange.

Resorts World Las Vegas

It’s happening at a sloth’s pace, but Resorts World appears to be increasing the size of its erection.

We are not a construction expert, but it appears concrete is being poured at various parts of the Resorts World hotel tower.

Here’s another orange thing.

Resorts World Las Vegas

This is undeniably a thing.

And let’s not forget this orange thing on the Strip-facing wall of the structure.

Resorts World Las Vegas

Most concrete mixes reach 70% of specified compressive strength after seven days, whatever that might actually mean.

Update (3/28/18): A rep of Forming Concepts, Inc. has informed us those orange things are the company’s “formwork,” specifically, “elevator core forms and shear wall lifters.” The forms represent 39 truckloads of equipment. We look forward to learning more!

Another area of progress is what’s been described as a “swatch” on the exterior of the Resorts World tower. We should know because we’re the one who described it that way. You can see it on the lower left of the photo above.

The “swatch” is a test of what the exterior of the hotel could look like, we assume.

Here’s how it looked in July 2017.

Resorts World Las Vegas

We got really excited about this at the time.

Now, here’s what the exterior samples looked like in Sep. 2017.

Resorts World Las Vegas

This reflective version of the exterior would’ve been very helpful for shaving.

Here’s what the exterior test looks like today.

Resorts World Las Vegas

Yes, we have issues, we’re not saying we don’t have issues.

Somebody’s taking a lot of time considering materials and color combinations to determine what Resorts World will ultimately look like.

As we’re rooting for Resorts World to become a reality, we’re going to go with “slow and steady wins the race” as Genting’s construction philosophy.

An alternative philosophy might be, “We’re not opening until we’re sure this puppy is going to make a profit.”

Resorts World Las Vegas

Hey, the crane guy wants to feel like he’s doing something, so just play along.

Resorts World sits at the north end of The Strip, so it could very well be waiting for the Las Vegas Convention Center expansion, the opening of The Drew (formerly Fountainebleau), the opening of Paradise Park (formerly Wynn Paradise Park), a renovation for The Strat (formerly Stratosphere), a new direction for SLS Las Vegas (formerly Sahara) and the sale of Lucky Dragon (formerly not in bankruptcy).

That’s right, it could very well be Resorts World is biding its time until there’s critical mass at the north end of The Strip. That’s what we’d do.

If we were building a $4 billion Las Vegas resort. With all our mountains of blog money.

Resorts World Las Vegas

Baby steps are still steps.

Ultimately, progress is progress, even if it isn’t readily discernible to the naked eye.

Here’s hoping “slow and steady” gives way to “a metric hell-ton of construction activity” in the months to come.

We can’t bear any more heartbreak at the former home of our beloved Stardust.

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Las Vegas North Premium Outlets to Charge for Parking

Yes, we even break Las Vegas shopping mall news.

The Las Vegas North Premium Outlets mall will begin charging for parking on March 27, 2018.

Las Vegas North Outlet Malls paid parking

Remember guys, don’t tell your significant other you hate shopping. Tell them you’re taking a stand against paid parking policies!

The move follows in the footsteps of Las Vegas casinos, despite people actually being interested in casinos.

Here’s a letter from the mall’s management company, Simon Property Group, that spells out some of the details of the new paid parking policies at Las Vegas North Premium Outlets.

North Premium Outlets Las Vegas paid parking

Tenants be like, “How is this helping me, again?”

Nevada residents will continue to park free, as will employees of the mall and tour buses.

The cost of parking will be flat $5.

The 40-acre Las Vegas North Premium Outlets has about 175 designer and name-brand outlet stores. The mall touts the fact the stores offer savings of 25% to 65% off. Notable outlets include Coach, Kate Spade New York, Michael Kors, Neiman Marcus Last Call Studio, Nike, Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th, Tory Burch and others.

The mall opened in August 2003.

For better or worse, the dam has broken in Las Vegas when it comes to paid parking. And, by that, we mean “worse,” of course.

It’s likely Las Vegas North Premium Outlets is testing the waters with its new paid parking policy, with an eye toward evaluating the impact on tenants.

We continue to hold out hope that if businesses are negatively impacted by charging for parking, they’ll roll those fees back.

We’re delusional like that.

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Venue Fees: The Newest Ways Las Vegas Nightclubs Are Screwing You

We’ve long railed against insidious, often deceptive, CNF charges (or “concession fees”) at Las Vegas restaurants.

It seems Las Vegas nightclubs are getting in on the customer screwing action with a snaky new revenue-generating surcharge we haven’t seen before: Venue fees.

An alert tipster informed us about a 7% “venue fee” tacked onto all bills at XS Nightclub at Wynn Las Vegas.

XS Nightclub venue fee

By the way, those numbers on the right are in U.S. dollars. The mind reels.

One of the reasons we haven’t seen this fee before, and why we can’t definitively say it’s new, is we would rather dive headlong into a pool full of piranha while wearing bacon manties than set foot in a Las Vegas nightclub.

So, what’s a “venue fee”?

We’d say it’s a resort fee for nightclubs, but with resort fees, hotels at least pretend you’re getting something in return for your money.

Venue fees, like CNF charges, get you absolutely nothing as far as we can tell. Nightclubs charge it because they can, plain and simple.

The 7% venue fee at XS Nightclub may not sound like a lot until you see the prices at the club, then it really starts to sting.

A 7% venue fee on an $8,000 table is $560. For nothing, as far as we can tell. Even for a lower tier table (the closer you are to the dance floor, the higher the cost), the venue fee for a $4,000 table is $280.

XS Nightclub

Las Vegas has a never-ending supply of WTF.

We tried computing the venue fee on the cost of table and a $300,000 bottle of Ace of Spades Champagne, but our calculator melted.

Learn more surprising things about Las Vegas nightclubs.

The great news, of course, is nightclubs are still free for groups of attractive young women. So, there’s that. Do expect to be asked by a club promoter for photos of you and your girls before you get your comped table, and expect you’ll be joined later by male customers with deep pockets.

Chances are you visit nightclubs a lot more often than we do, so we’d love to hear if you’ve seen this new venue fee elsewhere. We suspect XS isn’t the only offender.

XS Nightclub

Somebody has to pay for all the untz.

We’ve seen mentions of venue fees in reference to Tao, Hakkasan and Omnia.

Club-goers don’t seem deterred by the price of tables or venue fees, so we’ll add it to our list of “Things We Don’t Get About Las Vegas.”

You know, like Criss Angel, eSports and the ban on lotteries.

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