Monthly Archives: June 2020

Cirque du Soleil Files for Bankruptcy Protection

We first broached the possibility of a bankruptcy for Cirque du Soleil back in April 2020, and we’re sad to report the company has done just that. Sometimes, we hate being right.

While news coverage of Cirque’s bankruptcy has focused on “immense disruption” caused by the COVID-19 crisis, Cirque du Soleil was in deep financial trouble prior to the closure of its shows, 44 in all, including six Las Vegas productions.

What kind of trouble? Roughly $1 billion in debt, largely due to leveraged loans.

Cirque du Soleil

Let’s hope the sun isn’t setting for Cirque.

Read our story to learn more about some of the WTF moves leading to Cirque du Soleil’s staggering debt.

Cirque furloughed about 3,500 employees in March 2020. Now, those employees are terminated.

The company has signed an agreement with its existing investors to take over Cirque’s liabilities and invest $300 million to keep the company afloat. A Canadian government body called Investissement Quebec will contribute $200 million in debt financing.

Yeah, it’s confusing. We just want our bendy people and creepy clowns back!

It’s expected that once Cirque’s capital is restructured, most of its Las Vegas shows will return: “O,” “Zumanity,” “Love,” “Ka,” “Mystere,” and “One.”

Insiders believe one or more Las Vegas shows won’t be back. Likely candidates are “Zumanity,” “Love” and “Ka.”

Among Cirque’s challenges, there’s no clear timeline for reopening their shows.

Here’s hoping Cirque du Soleil can get its act together. Cirque shows are as much a part of Las Vegas as roulette wheels, strip clubs and people mistakenly using an apostrophe in “Caesar’s Palace.”

Rumor Mill: Demolition Could Be in the Cards for Luxor

An iconic Las Vegas hotel, Luxor, could be facing demolition if industry chatter is to be believed.

While no official announcement has been made, a decision to bring down Luxor during a period of weak demand due to the COVID-19 crisis could make sense for the resort’s owner, MGM Resorts.

The company has long felt its hands are tied by the distinctive, but limiting, Egyptian theme.

Luxor Las Vegas

We’re inclined to think this rumor has legs.

De-theming casinos in Las Vegas has happened fairly frequently in recent years, as the perception of themes has evolved from cool to kitschy (or downright tacky) over time.

Many changes have already been made at Luxor to move away from its original theme, but it’s virtually impossible to re-imagine a massive pyramid.

The same dilemma is faced by Excalibur. Good luck tweaking a castle.

Our sources say company officials have discussed demolition of both Luxor and Excalibur for at least five years, but have been unable to proceed due to union contracts. It’s possible the COVID-19 shutdown has paved the way for what’s to come for Luxor.

Other hotels that have de-themed include Monte Carlo (now Park MGM), Treasure Island (now TI), Imperial Palace (now Linq) and MGM Grand (its “Wizard of Oz” roots are tough to spot now).

Luxor opened on October 15, 1993, 26 years ago, when Las Vegas was much more focused on attracting families.

Luxor demolition

Those who think Luxor’s time has come may have a point.

With age comes any number of challenges, and for years there have been rumors Luxor has had structural problems. Read more.

Were Luxor to be demolished, Las Vegas would lose not only one of its most distinctive hotels, but also its renowned Luxor Sky Beam, one of the strongest beams of light in the world.

It’s worth noting the beam has been dimmed in recent years to cut costs.

While Luxor may be a sentimental favorite of Las Vegas visitors, it’s probably time to call it a day, especially if it means a shiny new casino resort could take its place. Sentiment doesn’t pay the bills.

Luxor demolition

Luxor always seems happy to see us, if you get our drift.

In the meantime, it’s probably a good time to visit Luxor again. The casino reopened on June 25, 2020, after being shut down for three months.

If we hear any more Luxor demolition rumors, you’ll hear them here first.

CES 2021 Could Ban Handshakes and Offer On-Site COVID-19 Tests

The folks at CES (formerly known as the Consumer Electronics Show) sent a survey to past attendees to gauge sentiment about the January 2021 convention.

The survey is telling, and sets the stage for what conventions and meetings could look like during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond.

CES

You can totally use this graphic to promote your next convention, CES. You have enough to think about.

The CES 2021 survey went so far as to float the possibility of banning handshakes at its upcoming gathering. Ditto exchanging business cards.

The prospect of dumping these time-honored convention rituals is surreal, as they’re as much a part of CES as product demos and visits to Las Vegas strip clubs. These potential changes do makes sense, though,¬†given the crucial goal of making attendees feel more comfortable and safe.

Also in the survey, questions about the potential of limiting the overall number of CES 2021 attendees.

The survey also mentioned the prospect of open-air shuttles being used to move attendees about the convention site. This would be a disappointing turn of events, as it could take some of the wind out of the sails of the debut of Elon Musk’s new underground transportation system set to debut in time for CES 2021.

A couple of other survey items stood out.

For example, CES organizers posed a question about whether attendees would be willing to take a COVID-19 test within 72 hours of attending the conference.

Another question asked former conventioneers how they’d feel about having a COVID-19 antibody test done on-site, at CES itself. The survey specifies a “10-minute antibody test which would involve a prick of blood.”

The world is an upside down place at the moment, to say the least.

Vegas Vic mask

Who’s annoyed by the COVID-19 crisis? This guy.

CES hasn’t been shy about acknowledging the concerns of some attendees.

The official CES Web site states: “We are working closely with the Las Vegas community, including the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority and hotel venues, as they develop and implement their re-opening plans. We are also working with leading event industry associations as they develop their best practices. And we will ensure our plans follow the recommendations of public health experts and standards set by the federal, state and local governments.”

Organizers mention plans already in the works, although none as dramatic as some in the survey.

Plans include more frequent cleaning of spaces across the show venue, better enabling social distancing, issuing best practices for masks and “avoiding handshakes,” thermal temperature scanning and limiting touch points.

While all conventions are dealing with pandemic-related challenges, CES 2021 is in an especially delicate situation, as COVID-19 is suspected to have been present at CES in January 2020. At least one attendee later tested positive for antibodies, with others reporting symptoms more severe than another time-honored CES tradition, influenza (in past years referred to as the “CES flu”).

About 170,000 people attended CES in 2020, including about 100 from Wuhan, China, where the coronavirus is believed to have originated.

Elbow bumps, temperature checks and masks are likely to be the “new temporary” at conventions for the foreseeable future.¬†There’s a lot of that going around.

20 Useless But Interesting Stats From the 2019 Las Vegas Visitor Study

The LVCVA’s annual Las Vegas Visitor Profile Study is reliably unreliable, but that doesn’t mean there’s no entertainment value.

The statistically dubious 2019 Las Vegas visitor survey was just released, and we know you’re not going to read the 82-page report, so we’ve plucked out some nuggets for you.

We are a noted nugget-plucker from way back.

Las Vegas visitor study 2019

On the bright side, Statistically Dubious would make a great band name.

The LVCVA (Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority) conducted in-person interviews with 3,600 randomly selected visitors to compile this data.

Let’s see what the survey turned up before Las Vegas surveys were tainted by this whole COVID-19 mess.

1. In 2019, 76% of visitors had visited Las Vegas before, down from 82% last year. Translation: Las Vegas had more virgins in 2019.

2. Of those surveyed, 14% said they were in Las Vegas primarily to gamble, the highest proportion in the past five years. The other 86% said they were in Las Vegas primarily to complain about resort fees.

Las Vegas visitor survey

Notice how “relatives” are in a different category than “vacation.” Just saying.

3. Forty-nine percent of visitors to Las Vegas in 2019 arrived by air. Typically, in planes, although dirigibles are expected to make a comeback in 2021.

4. Forty-two percent of respondents said they had visited downtown Las Vegas on their current trip. Which means less competition for our favorite slot machines, so we’re good.

Las Vegas tourist survey downtown

We told them to get rid of the pickle tub drummers. How is annoying everyone a First Amendment right?

5. In 2019, visitors stayed an average of 3.4 nights and 4.4 days in Las Vegas. Yes, there were partial days and nights. Thanks a lot, Jagermeister.

6. Twenty-nine percent of visitors arrived in Las Vegas on a weekend. About 3% visited Las Vegas because of this video by The Weeknd.

7. Among all visitors, the average expenditure on food and drink in 2019 was $410.74, up from the past four years. In some cases, that $410.74 was spent on an individual cocktail at Mr. Coco at Palms. Just saying.

8. Eight in 10 (81%) visitors said they gambled while in Las Vegas, the highest proportion in the past five years. And by “gambled,” we trust they mean “engaged an escort who may or may not have been an undercover policeperson.”

Vegas visitor survey

There should be a question about how many people raised their voice toward an inanimate object during their stay.

9. Among those visitors who gambled while in Las Vegas, 63% gambled on average per day two hours or less. Slackers.

10. The average number of casinos visited was 6.4. That’s because a lot of people hit Ellis Island. While Ellis Island may be .4 of a casino, it’s all the best parts.

11. Among those visitors who gambled in 2019, the average trip gambling budget was $591.06. Welcome to a little something we like to call triple zero roulette.

12. Fifty-one percent of visitors attended shows during their stay. Remember when shows were a thing in Las Vegas? Those were the days.

Atomic Saloon

Ah, the days before social distancing. Mosey on back soon, “Atomic Saloon.”

13. Visitors in 2019 were likely to be married (73%). Why do you think they need to get away to Las Vegas?

14. More than one in five visitors (21%) were retired. That number looks wonky, but nobody is allowed to question the LVCVA’s study. It’s the law.

15. The average visitor’s age was 46.2. Average age they claimed to be in casino bars: 32.2.

16. Over three-quarters (77%) of 2019 visitors were white. If the LVCVA could stop randomly surveying mostly white people, that’d be great.

17. Nine percent of respondents were in Las Vegas to attend a convention, trade show or corporate meeting. Note: Please refer back to #13. They didn’t say those married people were here with their spouse. Hello, Sapphire Gentlemen’s Club.

18. About 21% of Las Vegas visitors came from California. Which explains why so many casinos are using these annoying paper straws.

19. Just 18% of visitors took taxis when traveling around Las Vegas. About 9% tried walking and really, really regretted that decision.

20. In 2019, 14% of visitors were from foreign countries, the smallest proportion over the past five years. Ditto 2020, times infinity.

We just saved you 82 pages of skimming! We trust you are expressing your appreciation to your computer or smartphone right now.

We can only imagine what these numbers are going to look like in the next annual report.

While the Las Vegas Visitor Profile Study has its faults, it’s often a way to see trends as they’re unfolding.

For example, the number of people from California visiting Las Vegas has dropped 10% over the last four years. Las Vegas casino companies need to come to grips with the fact increased competition (since the advent of legal gambling across the U.S.) is eating away at our visitation.

Visitation was in trouble even before the COVID-19 kerfuffle, yet prices continue to rise.

On the bright side, in 2019, 99% of visitors said they were satisfied with their visit to Las Vegas. That satisfaction rate was just 76% in 2017. That was the year the Cosmopolitan started charging for parking. Just saying.

If you’d like to read the entire 2019 Las Vegas Visitor Profile Study (.pdf format), the Internet is here to help. The official survey has considerably less snark. Nobody’s perfect.

Masks Now Required at All Caesars Entertainment Casinos

Caesars Entertainment, owner of several Las Vegas resorts, has announced everyone indoors at its casinos will be required to wear masks at all times, except when eating and drinking.

The new policy went into effect on June 24, 2020 at noon.

Caesars mask

We are intrigued by this “except while drinking” loophole.

Here’s a quote from the company’s CEO, Tony Rodio. “We are immediately requiring everyone in our properties to wear masks, because the scientific evidence strongly suggests that wearing masks and practicing social distancing may be the most important deterrents to spreading COVID-19 from person to person.”

According to Caesars Entertainment, anyone who refuses to wear a mask will be shown the door.

The new rule applies to all casinos operated by Caesars Entertainment across the country.

Don’t be surprised if other Las Vegas casinos follow suit, voluntarily or otherwise.

Update (6/25/20): MGM Resorts has followed suit, as expected. The actions of individual casinos is moot now, however. The Governor has mandated masks in all of Nevada whenever people leave their homes.

Circa Announces Opening Dates, First Adults-Only Casino Resort in Vegas History

There’s been a flurry of great news around Circa Las Vegas, so let’s dive in! We’ve got exclusive video, the most in-depth interview ever given by the casino’s owner, Derek Stevens, and more.

Not to make it about us, of course.

First up, Circa has announced its opening dates. Yep, there will be two dates.

The first five floors of Circa Las Vegas open Oct. 28, 2020, months ahead of schedule. The hotel opens Dec. 28, 2020.

Circa Las Vegas

Circa Las Vegas has officially been topped off.

On Oct. 28, the resort’s casino will open, as will its sports book (touted as the biggest in the world), a number of bars and the massive pool complex.

Four restaurants will open on Oct. 28, but 8 East won’t because, as Derek Stevens says, “There will be a crane going through the center of the restaurant.” Learn more about the restaurants at Circa.

As mentioned, Circa’s hotel opens Dec. 28. Reservations will be taken starting June 24, 2020.

Derek Stevens believes this is the first time in Vegas history a resort has been given an exemption so a casino can open separately from a hotel. Current regulations require a casino resort must have 200 rooms to open.

We sat down for an exclusive chat with Derek Stevens to get all the inside scoop about Circa, and there’s a lot.

Circa

Derek Stevens likes casinos so much, he made one from scratch.

Kick back and enjoy all the spilled tea, or whatever the kids are calling it now.

Are you not entertained?

Next up in our cavalcade of Circa news: The resort has announced it will be for adults only.

That’s right, Circa will be for ages 21 and older.

No Kids Quest. No strollers. No kids in the pool. No kids at all, 24/7. Ever.

This is seriously the best news in the history of Las Vegas.

Speaking of history, it’s believed this is the first time a Las Vegas casino resort has been restricted to 21-plus, ever.

Circa rendering

Circa rolled out a bunch of new renderings. Check the photo gallery for more. Sup, Vegas Vickie?

As if all this great news weren’t enough to fill your gullet, there’s more.

On June 19, 2020, Circa Las Vegas had a topping off ceremony. During the ceremony, the last beam ever placed at Circa was hoisted into place.

Circa Las Vegas final beam

Circa owner Derek Stevens was so happy to see this lifted into place. In fact, he was beaming.

We had the awesome privilege of being able to strap a GoPro to the beam, so we captured this momentous occasion for posterity.

It’s epic.

If you watched until the end, you may have noticed the steel worker putting the final beam into place.

Check out the dude’s tattoo! You’ll try to think of something more Vegas than a guy with a Las Vegas sign tattoo securing the final beam on the newest Las Vegas casino, but you will fail.

Circa topped off

Even our haters are, like, “This puts the ‘vital’ in Vital Vegas.”

Prior to the beam being lifted, Derek Stevens and his executive team signed it, along with a number of the construction workers.

Since we’re doing things for posterity, we need to mention what Derek Stevens wrote on the beam. It wasn’t publicized, but we know people.

Stevens wrote the names and initials of his wife Nicole, his parents and brother, Greg Stevens (co-owner of The D and Golden Gate), his three children (Whitney, Sammy and Sera) and the initials of the company’s first employee in Vegas, Wayne Peters.

Derek Stevens

No pressure, Derek.

There are so many stories to be told about Circa.

There’s the story about the ventilation system being used for the first time in any Las Vegas casino: The air flow will be floor to ceiling, a true game-changer.

There’s the story about how COVID-19 actually helped speed up construction because the project didn’t have to be as concerned with noise affecting neighboring hotels (they were closed).

There’s the story about how at one point, elevators at the Circa construction site went from being able to carry 20 people to only being able to carry two per trip.

There’s the story about how important it was to finish and open Circa in 2020 (hint: tax incentives).

There’s the story about why Circa will have a massive video screen facing away from The Strip, rather than toward it. (It’s all about eyeballs on the freeway.)

Circa

This video screen will be seen by one trillion people. Note: We were drinking, so we may have rounded up.

Circa is the first new casino resort in downtown Las Vegas in 40 years, and we look forward to sharing more stories from Circa Las Vegas.

Here are more photos because we know how you are.