Monthly Archives: May 2021

Podcast Ep. 123: Maskless May, Piff at Flamingo and Omega Mart Revisited

Turn off your good judgment, pour yourself a Captain and diet and luxuriate in the unrelenting WTF of the newest installment of the Vital Vegas Podcast!

In this episode, we celebrate “Maskless May,” as vaccinated guests are no longer required to don masks in Las Vegas casinos.

We take the opportunity to chat with one of the first performers to return to the stage after months of no live entertainment: John Van Der Put, better known as Piff the Magic Dragon.

The Flamingo headliner talks about the challenges of navigating pandemic-related restrictions, and what it’s like to make people laugh and feel a sense of wonder again.

Piff

Comedy, magic, flair and a pup. Piff’s show has it all.

We also revisit one of our top Las Vegas attraction picks, Omega Mart at Area 15.

Our guest is Spencer Olsen, Director of Meow Wolf Las Vegas. Meow Wolf is the company behind the stunningly original and mind-bending Omega Mart.

Omega Mart is a little bit art exhibit, with a twist of twisted grocery store, a pinch of Gary Larson
cartoon, a smidge of immersive storytelling and a lot of “What the hell did I just see?”

We’ve also slapped together a listicle, “10 Things to Do With Your Old Masks,” plus all the news you need to become a master mansplainer about Las Vegas in just 90 minutes.

We know if we suggest you listen to our podcast, you’ll probably ignore the advice. So, do these two things: 1) Find a therapist to address your oppositional defiant disorder. 2) Listen, anyway. There might be pie.

Source: Laurel Lounges Won’t Return to Caesars Entertainment Casinos

It’s been a lingering question: When will Laurel Lounges reopen at Caesars Entertainment resorts in Las Vegas?

Thanks for asking. The answer is: Don’t be surprised if they don’t.

Our high-level source at Caesars Entertainment says Laurel Lounges in Las Vegas won’t be back. As in permanently closed.

Note: This hasn’t been officially announced or confirmed, so there’s always hope, but it’s fading fast. Casinos are returning to 100% capacity, mask requirements are done, but still no peep about Lauren Lounges. Now, you know why.

Change happens. Caesars Rewards were once Total Rewards.

Here’s the backstory.

Laurel Lounges used to be called Diamond Lounges.

Those who attained Diamond tier or above in the Caesars Entertainment loyalty club could hang out in these lounges, get free drinks and snacks.

Laurel Lounges closed during the pandemic, presumably because the snacks were served buffet-style, but many assumed they’d be back.

Caesars started giving guests drink coupons to tide them over, and it now seems these coupons are set to replace Laurel Lounges altogether.

Diamond Plus and Diamond Elite members get four coupons for free drinks a day (the value of each drink can’t exceed $20). In addition, Seven Stars tier members also receive a food coupon valued up to $10. See more.

Fun fact: To be a Seven Stars member, you have to earn 150,000 tier credits in a calendar year.  You earn one tier credit for every $5 played on a slot machine, for example. That’s $750,000 a year in slot play (not losses, necessarily, just play). Enjoy your $10 food coupon as a thank-you for your “optimal player participation”! We kid. They get other perks, too.

In regard to casinos feeding players for free, Caesars CEO Tom Reeg said, “God forbid they stop at McDonald’s on the way home.” We are not making this up.

While Caesars hasn’t confirmed the elimination of Laurel Lounges, or what might replace them, our source says the lounge at Paris will become a Vanderpump Lounge, an offshoot of the one at Caesars Palace.

Elimination of Laurel Lounges is part of an overall cost-saving effort following the merger of Caesars Entertainment and Eldorado Resorts.

The company is scrutinizing any element of the business that isn’t directly making money, and cutting, including on the live entertainment front.

Just days ago, it was announced several venues will close, leaving a number of long-running shows, including “Chippendales” and “Crazy Girls,” without a home.

It’s also believed a number of money-losing buffets will not reopen, although Bacchanal at Caesars Palace will.

Recent decisions by Caesars Entertainment fly in the face of Las Vegas trends over the last decade.

MGM Resorts even went so far as to create an entire campaign to shift its public image from that of a casino company to an entertainment company.

Player perks and live entertainment have been considered drivers of “non-gaming revenue,” a direction born of necessity as profits from gambling have declined every year.

The bottom line is Caesars Entertainment has a huge amount of debt, and prior to the merger said it was going to trim the fat. As a Bloomberg story said, ” the moves are part of a strategy to create a leaner casino operator that’s focused on the core gambling business rather than costly forays into other areas.

Whether nixing Laurel Lounges, a beloved perk of its best and most profitable players, helps or hurts the company’s “core gambling business” remains to be seen.

Vince Neil’s Tatuado Eat Drink Party Closes at Circus Circus

Vince Neil’s Tatuado Eat Drink Party restaurant and bar has closed at Circus Circus.

The restaurant opened on Nov. 9, 2013. We were probably there.

The venue replaced Rock & Rita’s, and yet another concept is in the works for the space, according to Circus Circus.

Vince restaurant closed

Vince Neil has folded up his tent at Circus Circus.

Another Vince Neil restaurant effort, Tatuado at Westgate, closed in 2014.

In response to our Tweet about the closure of the restaurant, Circus Circus said on Twitter, “Food will be a component of the outlet, but not the main entertainment. Stay tuned for Memorial Weekend opening.”

We’re thinking family-friendly lap dances, but that’s unconfirmed.

Concepts come and go, but the Rock & Rita’s bus remains.

We didn’t hear much about Vince Neil’s restaurant in recent years, even prior to the pandemic.

The venue was probably best known for its distinctive drink vessels.

If you have one, it’s a collectors item. Put it on eBay, you’ll be flush with cash.

Circus Circus was sold to TI owner Phil Ruffin in 2019. Yes, we broke the story. Do you know this blog at all?

It doesn’t appear Ruffin has made any capital investment in Circus Circus to-date, but we’re promised there are unspecified projects in the works.

We enjoyed parts of our recent visit to Circus Circus, as The Steakhouse is reliably good.
The table games area and midway have funky hours at the moment, so plan ahead. The midway closes at 9:30 p.m. midweek, midnight on the weekends.

Signage says several new dining options are in the works, replacing the shuttered buffet. The new offerings include Pick Up Stix, DQ, Einstein Bros. Bagels and Popeyes fried chicken.

Please do not ask us why there is no apostrophe in “Popeyes.” We are a blog, not a grammarian.

Circus Circus food court

Each restaurant in the new Circus Circus food court will represent one of the four food groups.

While we were at Circus Circus, we grabbed a photo of something you’ve never seen a photo of before. The cage. Yes, we risked being back-roomed because we love these clowns so much.

Circus Circus

If we get 86’d because you had to see a photo of the cage clowns, we’re going to be very upset.

Circus Circus has better up its game, as a shiny new neighbor, Resorts World, opens June 24, 2021.

We trust the customers of these resorts won’t overlap too much, but Circus Circus could still benefit by having more humans in the general vicinity.

We look forward to sharing more news from Circus Circus. The old girl could use some love, and is a true throwback for those who love an old-school vibe and visiting the casino featured in “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.”

Although, in the movie, the carousel on the casino floor actually worked. No pressure, Circus Circus.

Caesars Entertainment Slashes Live Entertainment

We’ve been tossing out red flags for some time about changes coming to Caesars Entertainment following the merger with Eldorado, and now we’re seeing the repercussions of the shift in the company’s direction.

Live entertainment is being hit hard across town, with a number of venues being closed along with announcements their shows and entertainers will have to seek new theaters.

Among the venues closing are Cleopatra’s Barge at Caesars Palace, the Chippendales Theater at Rio and Anthony Cools Experience Theater at Paris, per a statement from Caesars.

“X Rocks” at Bally’s has also been shown the door, as well as the Bronx Wanderers and “John Caparulo’s Mad Cap Comedy” at Harrah’s.

X Rocks closed

“X Rocks” has been stripped of its theater.

That means acts like Wayne Newton, “Chippendales,” the hilarious hypnotist Anthony Cools and shows like “Friends, The Musical Parody” and “Sex Tips for Straight Women from a Gay Man” are homeless.

Just like that, one of the best male revues in the history of Las Vegas, “Chippendales,” has closed at Rio.

Chippendales

So many hearts broken right now.

Also closing are “Crazy Girls” and “Tenors of Rock” at Planet Hollywood.

The changes don’t stop there, however, as we’re hearing numerous live bands and lounge acts are going away, too.

We’ve heard unconfirmed rumors other entertainment venues will feel the effects of this new direction, including the end of bands and elimination of the stage at Carnaval Court outside Harrah’s.

Ditto the stage inside O’Sheas at Linq casino.

Yes, that’s Flippy at Carnaval Court, but you’re supposed to be reading our incredibly prescient words. Ahem.

The cuts in live entertainment seem to track with statements by Caesars Entertainment that the company’s focus is returning to gambling, as opposed to restaurants and entertainment.

The move by Caesars Entertainment is strange because it would appear a cost-cutting move, but these shows are four-wall deals. The shows pay for production costs and marketing themselves, so with its decisions Caesars is not only eliminating revenue from “rent,” it’s turning away customers who might visit the casino or take advantage of other amenities before or after a show.

That’s right, Caesars Entertainment is taking the “entertainment” out of “Entertainment,” a tectonic shift given gambling revenues have continued to decline over the past few years. MGM Resorts even launched a campaign to distance itself from the perception of being a “casino company,” preferring to portray itself as an “entertainment company.”

If you’re worried your favorite shows are in danger, you should be.

We hear the shake-up isn’t done, and it extends beyond entertainment.

A number of strategic moves in Las Vegas are being made right now, under cover of the COVID crisis. Gird your loins!

For example, our source says Laurel Lounges at Caesars Entertainment resorts will be eliminated. Again, not confirmed, but we hear reliably these VIP lounges are done, and the one at Paris will be replaced with a Vanderpump Lounge.

All these moves are made all the more fascinating by the timing, as casinos move to 100% capacity and masks are no longer mandatory for vaccinated guests.

Demand is high for mid-level shows, and we’re curious to see what Caesars Entertainment does next.

Masks No Longer Required in Las Vegas Casinos for Vaccinated Guests

There’s been a lot of great news in Las Vegas lately, but this one may top the list: Vaccinated guests are no longer required to wear masks in Las Vegas casinos.

We can only think of one sentence that might be better: “Sir, your visit to our brothel is on the house.”

This amazing news comes on the heels of the CDC updating its mask usage guidance. The CDC now says fully vaccinated people can lose their masks indoors or outdoors, and they can even skip social distancing.

The only thing more annoying than masks on people has been masks on statues.

Governor Steve Sisolak said Nevada would follow that guidance, and the state’s Gaming Control Board said they’d follow the Governor’s lead, so here we are.

Mask-free.

In casinos.

Finally.

Get vaccinated, already.

It’s great news not only because it means the pandemic is receding, accelerated by vaccinations, it’s also great news because Las Vegas is about being carefree.

Masks are the opposite of that, and masks have remained a big stumbling block for casinos to regain their footing after a really rough year.

In recent days, most Las Vegas resorts have been granted permission to return to 100% capacity on casino floors, but the removal of the mask requirement for fully vaccinated guests will be a big shot in the arm for casinos and their customers.

It should be noted the Gaming Control Board has said casinos can still require guests to wear masks, but we’d expect few, if any, will continue the policy unless required to. Read more.

Masks Las Vegas casinos

Adios, these.

The question, of course, is how will casinos determine if someone is fully vaccinated or not?

So far, it sounds like guests will be on the honor system.

This news is very fresh, so check back for updates. We would spend more time fleshing out our story, but we’re headed to a casino for some further research into this incredible and long-awaited news.

Yes, it’s research! At least that’s what we’re calling it on our tax return.

Update (5/15/21): KTNV in Las Vegas did a great story about guests no longer needing to wear masks in Las Vegas casino. Take a look.

Las Vegas Raiders Announce 2021 Schedule

It’s still a little weird typing “Las Vegas Raiders,” but that’s because the team’s first season in Las Vegas was surreal (no fans at the games and all that).

Now, though, we’re looking at the team’s first “real” season in our shiny new Allegiant Stadium, and even people who don’t care about sports are excited.

We’re referring to us, of course. Let’s look at the schedule!

Raiders home games schedule

Of all the teams we don’t care about, we don’t care about the Raiders least!

Yes, that’s the home game schedule, but home games are really the only ones that matter. Because Las Vegas.

Oh, stop your whining.

Here’s the full schedule, you big baby.

Cheat sheets like this were created because concussions can cause memory loss. Yes, we have to ruin everything.

See it bigger on the Las Vegas Raiders Web site.

Lost in the shuffle of the excitement of the schedule announcement is the fact our new team isn’t all that great.

In 2020, the Raiders batted about .500. Which we’re pretty sure: 1) isn’t spectacular, and 2) is a metaphor from an entirely different sport.

Last season, the team lost five of their last seven games.

Honestly, the Raiders couldn’t be worse if we personally played every position on the team and we have the physique of a pregnant manatee.

We are imploring the Las Vegas Raiders to be better so we have a reason to attend a game because we really want to check out the new Raiders stadium.

We’re all helping pay for the stadium with room taxes, so we deserve a look. Free. Not paid tours, that’s lame.

Las Vegas Raiders metal detector

Allegiant Stadium has been equipped with a giant metal detector. It’s on the Internet, so it has to be true.

There’s been a lot of hype around sports as the financial savior of Las Vegas, which we hope comes to pass.

The Vegas Golden Knights have been an unmitigated success, on pretty much every level, despite the fact hockey is a sport nobody has cared about since 1980.

There have been lots of rumblings recently about other pro sports teams eyeing Las Vegas, including MLB (hello, Oakland A’s) and NBA (hello, Timberwolves). We told you about all this, but we know you don’t listen because we pretend to hate sports and that somehow undermines our credibility in breaking news about sports. Rude.

Anyway, the Raiders! Take out that second mortgage, gird your loins and get ready for some football in Las Vegas!

Speaking of loins, here’s a fun fact: NFL players don’t wear protective cups. See? We can even make football fun!