Monthly Archives: September 2020

Caesars Entertainment Buys William Hill Sportsbooks

Casino giant Caesars Entertainment has made its first big move since merging with Eldorado Resorts. The company has acquired William Hill, the sports book folks.

Caesars is purchasing William Hill for $3.7 billion, and the deal is expected to close in the second half of 2021.

William Hill Caesars

For each share held, William Hill shareholders will get 272 pence. We have no idea what those are, but they sound adorable.

Sports betting has taken off in recent years, despite our best efforts, and it’s clear Caesars Entertainment wanted a bigger piece of the action.

The purchase of William Hill wasn’t without some drama, of course. Apollo Global Management was also interested, but Caesars made it clear if Apollo won the bidding war, Caesars would pull the plug on its deal with William Hill.

William Hill has an existing partnership with Caesars Entertainment, running its sports book operations at Caesars casinos in 16 states across the U.S.

It sounds like Caesars will sell off William Hill’s overseas assets, including in the U.K., where William Hill is based.

As we are not a sports person, we’re sort of baffled by the Caesars Entertainment purchase of William Hill.

Caesars has about $8.8 billion in debt already, and this seems a hefty investment in a part of the casino business that brings in relatively little revenue.

Sports books tend to be an amenity for players, like salons and poker rooms.

Sports book

Yes, this is exactly what everyone at every sports book looks like.

For example, in August 2020, Nevada casinos made $17 million from sports betting. That’s all Nevada casinos, combined. Before taxes and expenses.

While $475 million was wagered, the “hold” was a mere 3.58 percent.

We keep hearing people talking about the “fast-growing legal sports betting industry in the U.S.,” so we’re probably missing something.

Casino companies are obviously betting big on the potential future growth of online sports wagering, and online gambling in general.

Ultimately, such acquisitions tend to be about data. Yours, specifically. Each of these companies have valuable databases, and now they get to share.

It’s unlikely sports bettors will see many changes to their favorite sports books resulting from this deal.

Opinions vary widely about William Hill, with approximately one percent of its customers kvetching 24/7, but the company pretty much owns the sports book realm in Las Vegas.

William Hill Tropicana

Yes, we accidentally took a photo of the sports book at Tropicana. We were drunk.

Sports, in general, is taking up more Las Vegas bandwidth, given its new big league teams, the Vegas Golden Knights and Las Vegas Raiders.

The bottom line: Good luck finding a Las Vegas bar or restaurant without sports on.

You can read more about “compelling strategic rationale” of the purchase of William Hill by Caesars Entertainment in the news release.

Or just read our superficial and clueless take on this “historic acquisition” again. You do you.

Busted Vegas Myth: Flamingo Wasn’t Named After Bugsy’s Girlfriend

Las Vegas myths come and go, but this one has legs.

The myth is the Flamingo casino got its name from Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel’s girlfriend, Virginia Hill. Hill reportedly had long, thin legs, so her nickname was “Flamingo.” Another theory says she got her name because when she drank, her cheeks got pink.

The story about the naming of Flamingo after a long-legged “mob queen” is very dramatic and makes perfect sense until you realize this whimsical tale isn’t actually true.

Bugsy's Bar Flamingo Las Vegas

Bugsy’s alive and well at Flamingo, hoochwise.

While the flamboyant “Bugsy” Siegel is often credited with building Flamingo, the casino was actually the brainchild of Billy Wilkerson, founder of the Hollywood Reporter.

Wilkerson’s the one who gave the Flamingo its name, before “Bugsy” ever entered the picture.

In 1945, a friend of Wilkerson suggested that rather than just gambling in casinos, he should build one. Wilkerson made his way to Las Vegas and found a 33-acre site he purchased for $84,000.

Wilkerson named his project the Flamingo Club.

He ran out of funds in 1946, and sought help from east coast mobster Meyer Lansky, a decision that always works out well for everyone involved.

Flamingo neon

Iconic AF.

Financial backing from organized crime involves hands-on oversight by mob associates, and in this case the hands belonged to “Bugsy” Siegel and his cohorts Gus Greenbaum and Moe Sedway.

Eventually, Siegel took over the reins of Flamingo and when it opened on Dec. 26, 1946, the resort tanked to the tune of about $500,000 in losses over its first few days.

Flamingo closed and did better upon reopening, but Siegel’s mobster friends suspected he was stealing from them. What could possibly go wrong?

Flamingo is considered the first modern resort in Las Vegas, but Siegel wouldn’t be around to enjoy its success or witness its longevity.

Siegel was whacked on June 20, 1947, but his place in Vegas history lives on. The case remains officially unsolved.

The latest homage to “Bugsy” Siegel, as well as Meyer Lansky, can be found at today’s Flamingo. The resort recently opened a new restaurant, Bugsy & Meyer’s Steakhouse.

Bugsy & Meyer's Flamingo

As fronts go, this is a tasty one.

The restaurant is awesome, and a fitting nod to these colorful characters, immortalized in Las Vegas lore.

Now, you know!

Here’s the Scoop on Planet Hollywood’s Reopening Plans

Planet Hollywood has announced it will reopen Oct. 8, 2020, following a months-long closure due to the pandemic.

As has been the pattern of late, Planet Hollywood is taking things slowly, and says its hotel will operate Thursday through Sunday only.

The most important part of Planet Hollywood, the casino, will operate seven days a week.

Planet Hollywood

So many memories. And so many partial memories, which are the best kind, actually.

Dining options will open selectively when Planet Hollywood does.

Guests can seek out sustenance at Gordon Ramsay Burger (formerly BurGR), Strip House, Cafe Hollywood, Earl of Sandwich, Starbucks and, just outside, Chick-fil-A.

Burger Planet Hollywood

One cannot live by burgers alone. The Oreo shake at Burger is a must-try.

Koi will remain temporarily closed, as will P.F. Chang’s, Yolo’s Mexican Grill and the Ringer sports bar.

Our beloved Spice Market Buffet won’t be reopening, and it remains unclear if it ever will.

Spice Market Buffet

We miss our visits to Gluttony Central.

Planet Hollywood’s two popular lounges, Heart Bar and Extra Lounge, will reopen Oct. 8 as well.

The resort’s freshly-rebranded William Hill sports book will be open, along with the resort’s spa.

The adjoining Miracle Mile Shops mall has been open since June 9, 2020.

Worth noting: Self-parking at Planet Hollywood is free, as was the case prior to the shutdown.

Now, all Caesars Entertainment casinos have free parking on The Strip, and we couldn’t be happier typing that sentence.

Crazy Girls statue

“Crazy Girls” may not be back yet, but the butts are, so there’s that.

The reopening of Planet Hollywood is a welcome turn of events. Rumors have been ongoing about a potential sale of Planet Hollywood, with the Seminoles (Hard Rock) being an often-cited suitor.

We’ve also shared industry chatter Twin River has kicked the tires at Planet Hollywood, too.

The announcement by Caesars Entertainment seems to put to bed any uncertainty about whether Planet Hollywood would reopen again under its current ownership. We’d have lost money on that bet.

Planet Hollywood

Welcome back, you beauty.

The reopening of Planet Hollywood is also welcome because the Strip-side walkway that runs along the resort has become a tad sketchy since cleaning crews and security became scarce during the closure.

The general rule: More foot traffic, less WTF.

When Planet Hollywood reopens, we’ll be another step closer to feeling some normalcy in Las Vegas again. The resort is a fixture on The Strip, and it was painful seeing it shuttered.

Let’s Planet Hollywood again.

Virgin Hotel Las Vegas Set to Open Jan. 15, 2021

Virgin Hotel Las Vegas (technically, “Hotels,” though there’s only one) has announced its opening date: Jan. 15, 2021.

The resort, undergoing a major renovation from its previous incarnation, Hard Rock, was supposed to open in Nov. 2020, but COVID has ruined everything.

Channel 13 chastity belt

It’s hard to overstate the gloriousness of Channel 13 using our Photoshopped rendering of Virgin Las Vegas, complete with chastity belt. Because Virgin.

Hard Rock closed Feb. 4, 2020.

Hard Rock was purchased by JC Hospitality and bajillionaire Richard Branson on March 30, 2018.

The launch of Virgin Las Vegas is estimated to be costing in the neighborhood of $200 million.

In case you wondered, the push-back of an opening date for Virgin had everything with the business climate in Las Vegas due to COVID-19, not the financial state of Richard Branson or his Virgin Atlantic or Virgin Group.

Virgin recently showed off some renderings of its rooms (which the resort refers to as “chambers,” despite our best efforts), so let’s take a look.

Virgin Richard's Flat

This room is called Richard’s Flat. It refers to Richard Branson, but may also be a nod to the resort’s CEO, Richard Bosworth. Sly.

Here’s the living room for Richard’s Flat.

Virgin Vegas hotel rooms

Yes, we zoomed in on the liquor. No labels!

Virgin will have three towers: Opal, Canyon and the all-suite  Ruby Tower.

Virgin Vegas rooms

Oxymoron of the day: Canyon Tower.

Here’s the Opal tower room.

Virgin Hotel rooms

This is the Opal Tower. If you’re getting a feminine vibe, it’s because Virgin is known for appealing to female business travelers, among others.

Virgin will be part of Hilton Honors, the guest loyalty program boasting 108 million members.

It’s worth noting, Virgin announced it will be rebranding its popular showroom, The Joint.

There’s a good amount of anticipation building about Virgin Hotel Las Vegas, including ours.

We’ve got a solid stretch of newness in the works, from Circa (Oct. 28, 2020) to Virgin (Jan. 15, 2021) and Resorts World (summer 2021), and we look forward to gambling and drinking and debauching our way through each one.

Not necessarily in that order.

Scaled Back Tropicana Reopens on The Strip

Tropicana was down, but it’s definitely not out. The classic casino reopened on Sep. 17, 2020.

Tropicana has been closed since the Las Vegas casino shutdown on March 17. Most casinos reopened June 4, 2020, but Trop choose to remain closed to gauge demand.

The old girl is back, although she’s been trimmed down a bit, so expectations should be adjusted accordingly.

Tropicana Las Vegas

Trop has some of the sexiest glass in town.

Tropicana’s showroom is dark, obviously, and dining options are few at the moment.

The resort’s best dining options are closed temporarily, including Robert Irvine’s Public House, Bacio, Lotus Asian Kitchen and one of our go-to steakhouses on The Strip, Oakville.

Trop reopening

Give it a minute.

The beverage situation is in flux as well, with Trago Lounge out of commission so far.

Guests can still get snacks and drinks at venues like Trop & Go, Starbucks and the Chill’m Bar just off the casino floor.

Trop

This is where they store the brain freezes.

The casino is taking things slowly as well, with fewer table games, but when it comes to gambling, something is always better than nothing.

There were rumors Tropicana might not open again under the current ownership as Penn National Gaming has said it’s up for sale, but we were happy to see Trop return while a sale is being sorted out.

Technically, Trop is owned by Gaming & Leisure Properties, Penn’s REIT (real estate investment trust). Long story.

Tropicana

Tropicana’s had its ups and downs, but it’s hard to imagine The Strip without her.

A temporarily streamlined Tropicana is still a great time, and there’s an ample selection of slot machines, or as we like to call them, “Retirement Windfall Delivery Devices.” (Actual results may vary.)

While Trop’s amenities may be limited for now (no valet), the resort’s pool and spa are open.

As is the case with lots of Strip hotels, Trop has some excellent deals at the moment, so you’ll want to take a look. Midweek rates are $39. That’s not great news for Tropicana, but it’s spectacular news for visitors.

We enjoyed our first visit to Trop since it reopened, although we did miss Trago and Oakville.

Trop

Same back at you, Tropicana.

Cautious optimism is probably wise at this juncture, but there are signs Las Vegas is ready to spring back to life, especially now that bars have reopened.

Tropicana has been a fixture on The Strip since 1957, and you’ll want to add it to your list of stops when you’re in town, even if you’re just checking out the casino’s glorious, 4,000-square-foot stained-glass ceiling.

Resorts World Announces Hotel-Within-a-Hotel, Crockfords Las Vegas

Resorts World Las Vegas has revealed details of its hotel-within-a-hotel, Crockfords Las Vegas. Which you probably already knew because you read headlines.

As with Nobu at Caesars Palace or Four Seasons at Mandalay Bay, Crockfords Las Vegas will be a distinct experience at Resorts World, according to the news release.

Mostly, we like pretty renderings, so let’s go.

Crockfords Las Vegas lobby

If the first thing you thought of when you heard “Crockfords” was shoes, you are not invited.

The $4.3 billion Resorts World is slated to open in summer 2021, and when it does, Crockfords Las Vegas will account for 230 rooms of the resort’s overall 3,500.

Crockfords Las Vegas is part of LXR Hotels & Resorts, Hilton’s newest luxury brand. Although, it’s owned by Genting Group, owners of Resorts World. Resorts World will also feature two more Hilton brands, Hilton Hotels & Resorts and Conrad.¬†There will be a quiz. Read more and please explain it to us when you have time, thanks.

Crockfords Las Vegas

A gloriously twerk-free pool area at Crockfords.

Crockfords will have its own entrance, lobby and check-in at Resorts World, and each guest will receive a foot rub from visionary Elon Musk.

Just had to check to see if you’re still reading.

Crockfords Las Vegas lobby

Crockfords’ lobby sets the stage for all the fancy in store.

Here’s a peek at the Crockfords rooms and suites. The three-bedroom suites range between 1,100 and 3,000 square feet.

Crockfords superior king

This is the superior king room, complete with a variety of sturdy furniture.

The one bedroom is pretty swanky.

Each of the rooms will have a “water closet.” You know it’s a upscale hotel when there’s a special closet to keep your water.

Crockfords one bedroom

Guestrooms feature taupe and nude tones. Fun fact: The Nude Tones were one of our favorite band in the ’80s.

Crockfords will also have two Presidential Suites, two Villas and three Palaces.

Crockfords Villa room

Those blue things are called bed scarves, or runners. Yes, we have far too much free time.

Each Villa and Palace will have its own outdoor garden and terrace.

Topping the list of places we won’t be able to afford is the Chairman’s Villa. It’s 6,000-square-feet of luxury, a show kitchen, private karaoke room and badass views of The Strip.

Crockfords Villa

We were going to comment about the ethereal color palette of the Villa, then realized we would have to look up “ethereal” and possibly “palette.”

Here’s another rendering of a Villa at Crockfords.

Crockfords Vegas

We are currently experiencing Villa envy.

While the whole hotel-within-a-hotel concept is a little baffling to us laypersons, there’s no denying the renderings of Crockfords are bound to get the attention of guests who might otherwise have overlooked Resorts World.

One of the marketing challenges for Resorts World will be pulling guests from the two established powerhouses on The Strip, Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts.

It won’t hurt that Crockfords Las Vegas will be part of the Hilton Honors guest loyalty program. Hilton Honors has 108 million members. Yes, we counted.

Crockfords Las Vegas

Behold the Palace suite at Crockfords. Now would be a great time for you to get an inheritance of some sort.

According to the news release, Crockfords was founded in London’s fashionable St. James district more than a century ago. The brand has locations in Cairo, Singapore and Malaysia.

We’re adding Crockfords Las Vegas to the ever-expanding list of reasons we’re watching Resorts World’s opening closely and with growing anticipation.

Yes, that’s our anticipation growing. Don’t make it awkward.

It’s comforting to have a sprawling resort with that new casino smell to look forward to on The Strip in 2021 after all the WTF Las Vegas has endured in 2020.

Resorts World is going to mean a world of new and shiny in Vegas, and we can’t wait to see what’s next.