Monthly Archives: January 2021

Plaza Podcast Quickly Becomes Essential Listening

There are quite a few Las Vegas podcasts, but there’s one that’s quickly become one of our favorites, and from a surprising source: Downtown’s Plaza casino.

The show, On the Corner of Main Street, just released its 30th episode, and the show has already had some fascinating guests, including its most fascinating, us.

Plaza podcast

Yes, we talked to them about the name. Apparently, “we are not the boss of them.”

There are several reasons Plaza’s podcast is so good.

First, the casino’s CEO, Jonathan Jossel, is one of the co-hosts.

The other co-hosts are Plaza staffers Lisa Melmed (Marketing Manager) and Gary Vickery (Director of Hotel Operations). Russell Aaron also co-hosted several early episodes.

Jossel can obviously share insights into the world of Las Vegas others can’t, but he also knows a lot of people and that pull means the show’s guests are top notch. Our appearance notwithstanding.

The eclectic line-up of guests have included Ross Mollison, producer of “Absinthe” and other hit shows; Clark County Metro Sheriff Joseph Lombardo; El Cortez CEO Mike Nolan; Circa owner Derek Stevens; Neon Museum CEO Rob McCoy; South Point General Manager Ryan Growney; Mob Museum CEO Jonathan Ullman, former Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman (pictured below) and the list goes on and on.

Plaza Back to the Future

Oscar Goodman at left, Jonathan Jossel right, in the “Back to the Future” vest. Long story.

Our episode was #10, in case you’re suffering from insomnia.

Plaza’s podcast doesn’t balk at inviting “competitors” on. Can you imagine MGM Resorts or Caesars Entertainment inviting representatives from the other company on their podcasts?

Of course you can’t. They don’t have podcasts. Because they’re missing the boat.

Well, Plaza is rocking the boat, and other casinos had better pay attention.

Another reason Plaza’s podcast is awesome is it’s honest. The hosts, and especially Jonathan Jossel, don’t dance around sensitive subjects. Anything awkward, about Plaza or Las Vegas, is approached head-on.

The show avoids many of the traps corporate podcasts make. Primarily, the show isn’t selling anything.

This is the art of marketing without marketing, and it’s the future. Provide value and people will reward your efforts with their business and loyalty.

Plaza Las Vegas

People don’t trust advertising anymore, they trust podcasts and blogs. People are awesome.

Each episode of the Plaza’s podcast is a treasure trove of Las Vegas trivia, insights into the casino business and a deep dive into the buzz about downtown Las Vegas.

Every episode is filled with absolute gold you won’t hear anywhere else, like the fact Plaza wanted to be the home of “Puppetry of the Penis.”

In episode 28, guest Patrick McNeil of Faile, shares insider gems about how Plaza ended up with its big-ass murals.

Another sweet tidbit (episode 27): Prior to the sale of Las Vegas Club (owned by the same company that owns Plaza, Tamares Group), there was a plan to create a Spiegelworld Hotel & Casino on the Las Vegas Club site. Spiegelworld is the company that produces the aforementioned “Absinthe,” as well as “Atomic Saloon” and “Opium.”

What might have been.

Las Vegas Club demolition

That time during the Las Vegas Club demolition when there was an explosion of cheerleader uniforms.

We also learned (episode 25) the Greyhound station at Plaza has consistently been the biggest source of Metro calls in all of Clark County and Jonathan Jossel can’t wait to give them the boot.

Guest Mike Nolan (episode 23) shared a story about how El Cortez owner Jackie Gaughan used to keep gas and jumper cables in his car to assist guests in need.

Another recent guest (episode 29), Michael Parks of CBRE (a real estate company involved with all the biggest Las Vegas casino sales), shared the latest about trying to sell Tropicana. Parks also says leaks about casino sales are tricky and confidentiality is “vital.” We are so proud our scoop is one of the causes of such discomfort.

Also in that episode, Jossel shares there was a plan to convert the Las Vegas Club into residential and retail. The plan included a CVS, which presumably inspired Derek Stevens to buy the hotel to make way for his recently-opened casino, Circa Las Vegas.

The show’s co-hosts have spoken candidly about the challenges of the pandemic, and a wide range of other topics other (lesser) corporate podcasts would avoid or gloss over.

Plaza’s podcast doesn’t have to dodge anything or run its content through some P.R. filter. The CEO is on the flipping show, and he says what’s on his mind. (The accent is mostly British, by the way. Jossel grew up in the U.K.)

Pop Up Pizza Plaza

Random shout-out to Pop Up Pizza at Plaza, a hidden gem.

The revelations are seemingly endless, and every new installment brings new jaw-droppers. The conversations are lively, often funny and always entertaining.

Plaza’s podcast joins our list of favorites, including 360 Vegas Podcast, Tipping the Odds Las Vegas, Vegas Never Sleeps and others.

Vegas podcasts are a great way to stay connected to Las Vegas even when you’re not in Las Vegas, so tune into Plaza’s “On the Corner of Main Street” podcast. Find it on the Apples and elsewhere. Or download or stream or whatever weird thing you’re into. Trust us, “tuning in” used to be a thing.

Just go earbud something, already!

Caesars Rewards App Helps Escorts and Drunk Guests Locate Rooms

Oh, like you would’ve read this story if the headline didn’t include the words “drunk” and “escorts.” We know how you are.

So, the Caesars Rewards app (Caesars Rewards is the Caesars Entertainment player loyalty club) has rolled out a new enhancement: “Find My Room.”

The “Find My Room” tool helps hotel guests, and presumably their guests (not just escorts), find rooms in the often sprawling expanses of Las Vegas resorts.

Caesars Palace map

Caesars feels your pain. When you’re feeling no pain.

We gave the new functionality a test drive so you’ll know how to find your room the next time you’re blitzed at a Caesars Entertainment hotel. Sorry, the next time you’re responsibly imbibing at a Caesars Entertainment hotel. Because lawyers.

Once you download the Caesars Rewards app (it’s free, of course), you’ll want to connect it to your Caesars Rewards account if you haven’t already done so. If you aren’t a member, become one. Casino loyalty clubs are the best way to get more perks in Las Vegas.

Caesars app

In app parlance, this is called the “splash screen.” Irony alert. Because it’s a pool. Please try and keep up.

The Caesars Rewards app is a convenient way to check your Reward Credits and Tier Credits, if you’re into that kind of thing.

At the bottom of the app, click the red “Caesars Rewards” button. It’s a little more burgundy than red, but we are a blog, not a Pantone color book.

Next, in the upper right, click on “My Account,” then “Find My Room.”

Caesars app

Imagine how great life would be if there were giant red arrows pointing things out.

On this screen, you’ll enter the hotel, the “wing” or tower and your room number.

We just entered random room numbers for our test. The rooms have to actually exist for the function to work, otherwise you get an error message.

Caesars app

Please don’t pester the people in this room. It’s for illustrative purposes only.

From what we could tell, no matter which hotel you’re staying in, the app then shows you directions to your tower starting from the hotel’s front desk.

Flamingo directions

The directions are animated, so there’s that.

Depending upon the kind of person you are, you’ll either experience unbridled joy or crushing disappointment.

Resort maps are very useful, but there are some missed opportunities here.

To make the map useful, you have to find the starting point, the hotel’s registration desk.

This is not particularly helpful if you’re drunk or an escort. If you’re drunk, good luck finding anything. Wasn’t that the point of the new functionality in the first place?

If you’re an escort, repeatedly visiting the registration area, with its heightened security presence, isn’t ideal.

On the bright side, if the app just shows people where a hotel’s towers are, escorts have that down cold, so no big loss.

Caesars app Find My Room

In case you ever decide to stay where parts of “The Hangover” were filmed.

We aren’t entirely sure why you’re so obsessed with how this app functionality will impact escorts, but we aren’t going to judge.

We tried rooms at Flamingo and Caesars Palace, and the maps did provide some simple guidance about how to navigate the resorts.

We sort of expected the app would be more specific, somehow using GPS to guide us from wherever we are to where we need to be, but Google Maps has spoiled everyone and we’re not even sure how that would work with vertical movement between floors.

Note: It’s possible Google Maps “have” spoiled everyone. We are not entirely sure because we attended public school.

One of our biggest gripes when staying at hotels is remembering our room number. It seems so simple, but nobody’s writing their room number on a room key card (that’s not safe if you lose the key) or carrying around that little card folder thingy they write the room number on. So, you take a photo of the card folder thingy. That seems very 2008.

In the Caesars Rewards app, once you’re on the map screen, your room number goes away. Come on, Caesars Rewards app. Please think this through. The room number should be on the screen along with the directions to the tower. Hitting the back button is definitely very 2008.

Anyway, quibbles aside, it’s clear Caesars Entertainment is listening to customers and trying to make their app as useful as possible.

These casino apps can provide simple access to things like room reservations, show tickets (the app connects customers with Ticketmaster), deals and discounts, win/loss statements, casino credit options and a magical item called “marketing preferences.” There, you can choose which amenities you’d like to be pestered most about.

Thanks to our pal and Vegas watcher Marc Meltzer for pointing us toward this handy new addition to the Caesars app.

If you’re a Caesars Rewards member or Caesars Entertainment customer, you’ll find something of use on the Caesars Rewards app. Here’s more.

The new “Find My Room” function may save you some headaches. Not the real kind, of course. You’re drunk. You’re getting those whether you have the app or not. Hydrate, already.

New Strip Location of Pinball Hall of Fame in Jeopardy Due to Pandemic

A beloved attraction in Las Vegas, the Pinball Hall of Fame, has hit a financial snag in its plans for a new Strip location due to the pandemic.

Pinball Hall of Fame is asking for financial assistance, via a GoFundMe page, so construction of its new building can be completed.

Pinball Hall of Fame Vegas

We can’t let these pinball machines become homeless.

The new Pinball Hall of Fame will be located at 4915 S. Las Vegas Boulevard, not far from the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign.

The project to construct a new home for the Pinball Hall of Fame was underway prior to COVID-19. Financial projections were turned upside down due to a dramatic decrease in Las Vegas
visitors.

Fewer visitors has meant fewer quarters in the pinball machines, resulting in a $500,000 loss of revenue.

While the new Las Vegas Pinball Hall of Fame building is 96% complete, there’s a chance the revenue shortfall could result in the attraction being without a home.

According to Tim Arnold, there’s a very real possibility the Hall of Fame will be given the boot from its current Tropicana location on May 6, 2021. If construction of the new building
isn’t completed, it will leave the Pinball Hall of Fame in limbo with an uncertain future. Which may be the definition of “limbo.” Please stop scrutinizing every word we write, it’s a lot of pressure.

“We can’t cut staff costs, as we are all volunteers,” says Arnold. “We have sold off dozens of donated machines and have limited new machine purchases to a minimum, just enough to keep our local customers coming back.”

Tim Arnold Pinball Hall of Fame

Tim Arnold is trying to bring us magic. The pandemic isn’t helping.

Fans of the Pinball Hall of Fame have risen to the occasion, donating $82,000 of the $200,000 needed to complete the project, but the 27,000-square-foot attraction isn’t out of the woods
yet.

Throughout the financial struggles, Tim Arnold has managed to keep his sense of humor.

In a video to pinball fans and supporters, he says, “Tell your friends, link and share and whatever you kids do with those computer things you have.”

Here’s a look at the lovable pinball nerd leading the charge for the new Pinball Hall of Fame.

The Pinball Hall of Fame originally opened in 2009. The attraction currently has about 250 vintage pinball machines, not just for display but also for play. The new location will have more than 700 pinball machines and arcade games.

Many of the games slated for the new location have been in storage for 30 years.

Riviera pinball machines

Fun fact: The Pinball Hall of Fame once had an “annex” at the Riviera.

As Arnold mentioned, the Pinball Hall of Fame is staffed entirely by volunteers, and as a non-profit organization, the museum often donates proceeds to charity, including the Salvation Army.

Here’s how the new Pinball Hall of Fame looked the last time we stopped by.

We talked with Tim Arnold on our podcast.

We caught up with Arnold again recently to learn more about the attraction’s financial challenges.

Let’s see if we can help flip this situation and help save the Las Vegas Pinball Hall of Fame. We donated $50 and it takes a lot for us to part with funds that might otherwise have gone into a Wheel of Fortune machine.

Take a listen to our chat with Tim Arnold about the precarious predicament the Pinball Hall of Fame finds itself in.

Neon Museum Hosts Free Virtual Guide to Historic Signs

The endlessly awesome Neon Museum is hosting a virtual presentation highlighting the history of a number of Las Vegas neon signs.

The free Zoom event, “Beyond the Boneyard: Restored Roadside Relics,” takes place Feb. 4, 2021 from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Participants can register online.

Neon Museum relics

It’s the Neon Boneyard, not “graveyard.” They’re at little touchy about that.

Space for the virtual event is limited. Zoom allows 100 participants, but we’re hoping Neon Museum is springing for the 1,000-participant Large Meeting add-on.

Because neon.

Binion's Horseshoe sign

Binion’s Horseshoe lost its horseshoe when the casino was purchased by Harrah’s Entertainment (now Caesars Entertainment) in 2004. There will be a quiz.

The Neon Museum online event will feature nine restored signs frequent Vegas visitors will immediately recognize.

Here are the nine restored neon signs to be discussed:

googie Binion’s Horseshoe
googie Silver Slipper
googie Bow & Arrow Motel
googie Society Cleaners
googie Normandie Motel
googie Lucky Cuss Motel
googie Hacienda Horse and Rider
googie 5th Street Liquor
googie Landmark Hotel

The Neon Museum put together a map in case you’re feeling adventurous and want to check out these signs on your own.

Neon Museum

Just a heads up: Best not to try and walk this tour. Don’t make it awkward.

During the online presentation, experts will share insights into the history of the signs, as well as what’s involved in restoring and preserving neon signs.

The museum also says, “Archival images, postcards and other primary sources will fuel your curiosity for the significant signs from bygone businesses.”

We don’t know what all that means, but here’s our take: These signs kick ass and we’re craving more scoop like a conventioneer craves lap dances.

Society cleaners neon sign

Not all the signs are from casinos. Nobody’s perfect.

All the signs in the presentation have been restored and put on display in public spaces by the Neon Museum. Many of the signs can be seen in downtown Las Vegas, not far from the Neon Museum itself.

The Neon Museum has faced many of the same challenges other venues are during the pandemic, although it has the benefit of being an outdoor attraction.

Even if you can’t make the Feb. 4 Zoom presentation, the Neon Musem offers a virtual tour for $10. It’s not as cool as seeing the signs up close, but it’ll do for now.

The Neon Museum is a national treasure, and we hope to see the place packed with guests again soon.

Godiva to Close Three Stores in Las Vegas

Yes, it’s a slow news day.

Three pricey Godiva chocolate shops in Las Vegas are set to close by the end of March 2021.

The three closures in Las Vegas are part of a much larger move by Godiva. The company is shuttering 128 brick-and-mortar stores in the U.S.

We have learned exclusively not all of them are actually constructed from bricks and mortar. You heard it here first!

Godgifu

We figured a topless icon would’ve thrived in Las Vegas. Alas, not.

In Las Vegas, Godiva has retail shops at Fashion Show Mall, the Grand Canal Shoppes at Venetian and Las Vegas North Premium Outlets.

We’ve been told the three Las Vegas locations are already starting to clear out stock with big discounts.

Before the withdrawal symptoms start kicking in, Godiva fans should know they can still get their fix online and at grocery stores.

Godiva retail stores will continue to operate in Europe, the Middle East and Greater China. Once again, Lesser China gets screwed, but that is neither here nor there.

The reason given for the closures is officially “acceleration of changes in consumers’ shopping behavior.”

Translation: Who the hell pays that much for “luxury chocolates” anymore?

On a more serious note, Godiva’s reliance on mall traffic has been seriously affected by the pandemic.

Thankfully, even with the loss of these Godiva shops, Las Vegas has ample options for overpaying for things.

For example, a bottle of “luxury (Fiji) water” at Aria costs $21.95. And water won’t make you gain weight or get cavities!

See? There’s a bright side to everything.

Gaming Today Magazine Sold, Print Publication to Cease

A Las Vegas-based sports betting publication, Gaming Today, has been sold to i15 Media.

While the Gaming Today Web site will continue under new ownership, the print publication will cease Feb. 10, 2021, following the magazine’s Super Bowl edition.

Gaming Today has been in print for more than 45 years.

It’s distributed in about 150 casinos, card rooms, race tracks and other venues across the country.

Gaming Today magazine sold

Not to be mistaken for Gaming Late Tomorrow Afternoon magazine. Hey, that could be a thing.

Gaming Today has been hard-hit by the effects of the pandemic, as many of its advertisers are casino companies.

Bill Paulos, the current owner of Gaming Today, said, “While we are saddened the print publication will no longer be found across The Strip, we are grateful the Gaming Today brand will live on within the i15 Media digital family.”

I15 Media manages a large network of gambling-focused news and affiliate sites including Bonus.com and Michigansharp.com, among others.

Paulos acquired Gaming Today in Aug. 2018. Paulos was co-founder and owner of Cannery Casinos. He sold Cannery to Boyd Gaming in 2016 for $230 million.

Gaming Today was founded by Chuck and Eileen Di Rocco in 1976. The magazine was originally called Sports Form.

To mark the end of the publication’s 45-year run, Gaming Today will donate 50 percent of the ad revenue from its final print edition to Three Square Food Bank, Southern Nevada’s largest hunger relief organization.

The move to an all-digital format seems a natural evolution for Gaming Today, but given it has been a fixture at many casinos for decades, the print version will surely be missed by sports bettors and gamblers of all stripes.

It should be noted we have never actually witnessed a striped gambler, but we mostly see them with clothes on.