Monthly Archives: May 2020

Vital Vegas Podcast, Ep. 110: Let’s Vegas Again

Let’s talk about the reopening of Vegas, finally!

There’s so much good news, we’re going to have our podcast let out. What does that even mean? Who the hell knows? The bottom line: We get to gamble again!

In this episode, we chat with Derek Stevens, owner of The D and Golden Gate, about giving away 2,000 free flights to Las Vegas.

Derek Stevens

Thanks to Derek Stevens for being on our podcast and sorry about the parts where we talk.

We also get a sneak preview of plans for Ahern Hotel, formerly the Lucky Dragon.

Chef Marc Sgrizzi talks about his new restaurant, Chef Marc’s Italian Steakhouse, and also tells us how to pronounce his name.

Chef Marc's Italian Steakhouse

Ahern Hotel has some sexy stuff in store.

We’ve got all the latest scoop you won’t hear anywhere else, and some scoop we heard elsewhere but changed just enough to avoid getting into too much trouble.

Don’t miss our hastily slapped-together listicle, “11 Things We’re Doing on June 4.” Hint: They all involve gambling and drinking. Shocker.

It’s the podcast your mother would’ve warned you about if she weren’t so busy reading your diary.

Take a listen!

Rumor: Boyd Gaming Buying Fiesta Rancho and Fiesta Henderson

Ever since Station Casinos announced it wouldn’t reopen four of its Las Vegas casinos immediately after the COVID-19 shutdown, there’s been buzz about the casinos being sold.

Now, we hear two of the locals casinos may have been purchased by Boyd Gaming. They are Fiesta Rancho and Fiesta Henderson.

Fiesta

“Fiesta” is Spanish for “Do not believe everything you read in photo captions.”

This rumor hasn’t been confirmed, but those are the only ones worth sharing, really.

The other two casinos in limbo are Texas Station and Palms. The folks at @WeKnowVegas floated the rumor Texas Station would go to the owners of Dotty’s, a chain of slot parlors. Which is rude, because we hate when anyone knows anything before we do.

Station Casinos has said Palms isn’t for sale, but we’ve heard otherwise.

While Boyd Gaming doesn’t confirm or deny rumors, it’s interesting timing for this chatter to surface as the company recently raised $600 million, for what that’s worth.

Boyd Gaming already has a number of popular locals casinos in Las Vegas, but the more the merrier.

Station Casinos was already in a tough spot prior to the COVID-19 crisis as Palms and Palace Station had massive investments with disappointing returns.

As always, we’ll watch to see if this rumor pans out. If it does, we’ll say our crystal ball never fails. If not, we were drunk, which gives us plausible deniability for pretty much everything.

Peek Inside Allegiant Stadium Reveals Sense of Humor and Memorial Torch

Exclusive photos from inside Allegiant Stadium show a nod to legends of both Las Vegas and
football.

First, the Vegas legend.

A quirky piece of artwork pays homage to none other than Wayne Newton.

Wayne Newton

Wayne Newton’s immortality is assured.

The recently-installed art is signed by Michael Godard. His work often showcases the artist’s imagination and humor.

In other Las Vegas Raiders stadium news, a larger-than-life memorial torch is being tested.

Allegiant Stadium

The stadium is set to cost $1.8 billion. That view of The Strip doesn’t come cheap.

The Al Davis Memorial Torch is 85 feet tall, and is inscribed with a quote: “The fire that
burns the brightest in the Raiders organization is the will to win.”

Allegiant memorial torch

Yes, this forced us to look up Al Davis. Thanks a lot, exclusive photo.

Al Davis was principal owner and general manager of the Oakland Raiders for 39 years, from 1972 until his death in 2011.

Construction of the new home of the Las Vegas Raiders has continued throughout the COVID-19 shutdown.

It’s expected the Raiders stadium will open at the end of July 2020. It remains to be seen if there will be fans in the stands during the upcoming NFL season.

All Fremont Street Casinos Open June 4, Fremont Street Experience on June 3

All the casinos along Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas have confirmed they’ll open on June 4, 2020.

That sound you hear is this blog becoming fully engorged.

Fremont Street

Let’s Fremont again.

The casinos along Fremont Street are The D, Golden Gate, Plaza, Golden Nugget, Fremont, Binion’s and Four Queens.

Just-off-Fremont Downtown Grand and The Cal will also open on June 4.

In the case of some casinos, not all dining options or other amenities will be available upon reopening. The casinos and bars are really the important things, anyway.

As for the Fremont Street Experience pedestrian mall, officials say they’ll be open on June 3 at 9:00 a.m.

Fun fact: Virtually no one has ever gotten up early enough to see Fremont Street Experience at 9:00 a.m. If they have, they’re doing Vegas wrong.

Fremont Street closed

There’s a light at the end of the sad.

At the moment, the newly-renovated Viva Vision video screen, is playing a countdown to the reopening of casinos downtown and on The Strip. Specifically, June 4 at 12:01 a.m.

While the Fremont Street Experience mall opens June 3, it will do so without its signature live bands. Announcement of the venue’s free summer concert series was derailed by the COVID-19 crisis, and there’s been no word as to whether any of the planned concerts will happen this year.

In related news, the SlotZilla zipline will reopen on June 4 at 4:00 p.m.

SlotZilla Las Vegas

Time flies when you’re in lockdown. Welcome back, SlotZilla.

Demand is expected to be strong downtown (including ours) upon reopening. The buzz is hotels both downtown and on The Strip are receiving unexpected levels of room bookings, despite the fact hotels and casinos are currently limited to 50% occupancy.

Downtown Las Vegas is much less reliant on conventions and Asian visitors than The Strip, so it’s expected downtown could recover more quickly than other destinations.

We are personally going to leave our stimulus money in a variety of slot machines and bars along Fremont the minute they reopen. You know, to support Las Vegas. We’re selfless like that.

Casino Owner Gives Away 2,000 Free Flights to Las Vegas

Derek Stevens, owner of The D, Golden Gate and the under-construction Circa Las Vegas, gave away 2,000 flights to Las Vegas to help kick-start visitation and support airline travel following the COVID-19 shutdown.

Las Vegas casinos have been closed since March 18, but many will reopen on June 4, 2020.

Stevens initially offered up 1,000 free flights on May 27, 2020, but those were snatched up within a couple of hours. Another 1,000 flights were made available later in the day. Travelers grabbed those almost immediately as well.

Derek Stevens

Derek Stevens just sort of gets it.

Derek Stevens made it clear those who took advantage of the free flights did not have to stay at his Las Vegas casinos, although many booked rooms at The D and Golden Gate.

Reservation lines were overwhelmed, and many folks on the company’s player development team (VIP hosts) took to the phones to assist reservations staff. They still couldn’t keep up with the demand.

Demand, of course, has been a big question of late. Casinos across the country have seen record revenue since they’ve reopening, but some have questioned how quickly Las Vegas visitation will recover, or if it will at all.

Given our own level of pent up demand, we suspect Vegas will see a healthy level of visitation right out of the gate. Hotels, casinos and restaurants will be limited to 50% capacity, however.

Here’s one last look at an empty Longbar at The D. Let’s hope we never see this again.

Longbar empty

The end of the sadness is near. Or “nigh,” if you’re fancy.

We did a complete walk-through of The D’s empty casino, so check it out.

While our usually reliable contacts at The D aren’t talking, we’re putting the over/under for the 2,000 one-way flights giveaway at $250,000.

As for the nearby Circa Las Vegas resort, it’s looking gorgeous.

Circa Golden Gate

Downtown’s oldest casino, Golden Gate, blends seamlessly with Circa, the newest. Bottom line: We should win far more awards for this blog.

Construction of Circa, set to cost in the neighborhood of $1.2 billion, has continued throughout the shutdown, so the new resort is on pace to open as planned in December 2020.

Circa’s floors are about two thirds built out, and it’s already the tallest structure in downtown Las Vegas.

Circa Las Vegas

Our future home away from home, Circa.

It now appears the majority of casinos in downtown Las Vegas will open June 4, 2020.

The D’s hotel will open June 3, with the casino opening one minute after they’re allowed to, per Derek Stevens.

We’ll see you at Longbar one minute after that.

Nevada Moves to Phase 2 of Reopening on May 29, Casinos Reopen June 4

Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak announced the state is moving into “Phase 2” of the state’s reopening plan on May 29, 2020.

Las Vegas casinos are still on track to reopen on June 4, 2020 (although not all will, as some will wait until demand returns).

In Phase 2, bars can reopen. That’s really the most important part, but here’s a handy chart that includes everything.

Nevada phase 2 reopening


Please don’t poke fun at the phase names. That’s our job.

Basically, Phase 2 means just about everything can reopen, but with restrictions like social distancing and capacity limits.

It’s worth noting salons and businesses that provide aesthetic services can open. So, what the Governor’s saying is everyone can get facials in Las Vegas again.

We’ll wait.

The things that can’t open in Phase 2? Nightclubs and dayclubs, adult entertainment establishments (strip clubs) and brothels.

Sheri's Ranch Las Vegas Brothel

Hold on, Sheri’s Ranch. Hold on.

Gatherings of 50 people or more rules out live sporting event venues, live performance venues and many of the best orgies.

As happened with restaurants on May 9, other Las Vegas businesses are now put in the position of having very little time to reopen, so expect many to wait until they can get their ducks in a row.

The process of reopening casinos on June 4 will be especially complicated, and guests will encounter a number of safety measures in place when they return. They include:

googie Temperature checks at the entrances of casinos, some taken by thermal scanners (100.4 is the temp to beat for entry)
googie Employees wearing masks, recommendations guests do as well
googie Capacity limited to 50% at casinos and restaurants
googie Social distancing everywhere, including fewer spots at table games
googie Four passenger limits in elevators
googie Increased cleaning procedures, especially slot machines
googie Casino employees will discourage guests from congregating
googie A metric hell-ton of hand sanitizer dispensers

Here’s a video showing some of the changes at Wynn Las Vegas.

Wynn safety

The “new temporary” is going to be awkward.

On the bright side, life will finally start to get back to normal in Phase 2. From hardcore gamblers to locals going stir crazy during the shutdown, we should see Las Vegas spring back to life in no time. Pent up demand is going to ensure a strong start, and from there we collectively make the best of an awful situation nobody could’ve predicted. Except Bill Gates. But pretty much nobody.

We’ve never been more excited to just sit in a bar and banter with a bartender about plastic versus paper straws. To see a movie. To get a massage. To laugh at people going into gyms and art galleries. To get a nipple piercing. Mostly the bar thing.

You can see the official Phase 2 announcement in the official news release (.pdf format).

Let’s Vegas again.