Category Archives: Gambling

Governor Sets June 4 Target for Reopening Las Vegas Casinos

Nevada’s Governor Steve Sisolak says the target for reopening Las Vegas casinos is June 4, 2020.

Opening casinos on June 4 would mean the end of an agonizing, 486-month shutdown of the world’s most important industry aside from the manufacturing of Captain Morgan spiced rum.

Sisolak Tweet

When the fun starts.

The Governor is expected to announce the next phase of Nevada’s reopening plan at a new conference on May 26, 2020.

The announcement could put to rest a metric hell-ton of speculation about when Las Vegas casinos will reopen.

When casinos get the green light from the Governor and Nevada Gaming Control Board, it won’t mean all the casinos will open, of course.

Several are expected to open immediately, others will wait and reopen based upon demand.

Big casino companies are moving guests with reservations at closed hotels to those opening sooner. For example, guests with reservations at MGM Resorts hotels are being offered accommodations at Bellagio, New York-New York and MGM Grand.

At Caesars Entertainment, Caesars Palace and Flamingo will open first.

Caesars

Caesars Palace will open ahead of many on The Strip. A head. Please try and keep up.

In spectacular news, MGM Resorts and Caesars Entertainment will provide free parking for the first time since 2016.

Most downtown casinos are expected to open right away, other than those in the Boyd Gaming family (Fremont, The Cal and Main Street Station).

Key to the reopening Las Vegas casinos, of course, is doing it safely.

All the major casinos have created safety plans with extensive information about new protocols being instituted to ensure everyone can debauch with confidence.

Find the plans here:

googie Wynn Resorts
googie MGM Resorts
googie Caesars Entertainment
googie Las Vegas Sands (Venetian/Palazzo)
googie Station Casinos (.pdf)
googie The Strat (Golden Entertainment)
googie Sahara
googie Cosmopolitan

Many of the safety plans overlap, and Las Vegas visitors will have some minor inconveniences, but for the most part, it will be business as usual for gamblers. Employees will be wearing masks. Temperatures may be taken. Groups will be encouraged not to congregate.

On the bright side, more elbow room, less noise and smoke!

Despite the seemingly endless shutdown of Las Vegas casinos, we’re nearly out of the woods.

There’s a lot of pent up demand, and we’re ready to pent the hell out of Vegas, again.

ATMs at Las Vegas Casino Table Games Are Officially a Thing

The D casino announced it now offers what amounts to ATMs at its table games, and the Internet sort of lost its mind.

In a news release, The D shared it has “officially debuted a new automated cashless gaming system, ACS PlayOn, for all table games.”

The release continues, “Offering a convenient experience for guests, PlayOn is a modern technology that allows players to purchase casino chips using a debit card, eliminating the need to use an ATM machine or cashier’s window between hands.”

Cue the mind-losing.

Here’s a look at the kerfuffle-causer in question.

cashless table game system

Reminder: PIN stands for “personal identification number,” so please don’t say “PIN number.” It’s like saying “please RSVP.” Really annoying.

Simply put, when you’re at the table (roulette, craps, blackjack, whatever), you can use your debit card to get chips.

That’s pretty much it.

Yes, there’s a fee. We know how you are.

The fee is $4, plus 2.5% of whatever you withdraw. So, for $100, that’s a total of $6.50, or about the same as an ATM fee. (Reminder: ATM stands for “automated teller machine,” so please don’t say “ATM machine.” Sorry to call you out, news release, but common mistake.)

It’s worth noting the PlayOn machines don’t accept credit cards. They also won’t let you exceed your debit card’s maximum daily withdrawal limit.

This seemingly straightforward service has already been in place at Palms since December 2019. The system will also be available at Golden Gate (same owners as The D) and The Strat in the next few days (as yet unannounced).

News of the system’s debut at The D seems to have hit a nerve.

Most of the feedback on the Twitters relates to the belief people will gamble more than they typically would because the cashless system makes money (or chips) too readily available.

There was also some discussion of the fee being too high. At The D, players can withdraw $50-$3,000. The 2.5% fee on $3,000 would be $75, presumably.

We didn’t read the fine print. We were drunk. Full disclosure: We still are. You’re not our mom.

Our brilliant response to most of the criticism of this system was, “It’s an ATM, just closer.”

A good number of people expressed that in the heat of the moment, a player having to stand up and walk to an ATM might give them time to ponder their life choices and avoid the impulse to throw good money after bad.

Interestingly, few mentioned people often win in casinos when they throw good money after bad. Glass half empty, much?

The controversy about “tabletop ATMs” in casinos isn’t new. When Palms got its system in 2019, the news coverage ranged from balanced to outright damning.

All we know for sure is if we’re playing blackjack and out of cash but want to double down, now we can do it without leaving the table (and without borrowing the money using a “marker,” or casino credit).

We’d love to hear your thoughts about this, as the amount of negative feedback was genuinely surprising, and we tend to know everything.

Another disclosure: We work in digital marketing at Fremont Street Experience. The D is a member casino of that organization. Our opinions are our own.

Here’s the official site for PlayOn, the cashless casino table games system we expect is here to stay.

Gamblers General Store Moves to New Location

A longtime go-to shop for gambling-related products in downtown Las Vegas, Gamblers General Store, has pulled up stakes and moved to a new location.

Thankfully, the store has only move about 180 feet from its former location, so customers shouldn’t have too much trouble locating it.

Here’s a look a the new digs.

Gamblers General Store

Two words: Dice table felt. Take it home. Learn the game. Get back to Vegas and stick it to The Man. Not to be confused with the “stickman.” Different thing.

The new address for Gamblers General Store is 727 S. Main St., Las Vegas, NV 89101.

From what we hear, the rent got too high at the former location, so the business made a move.

Here’s a hastily-assembled video for a look inside.

At the former location, there were several attempts at a restaurant inside the store’s footprint, but the most recent (and most promising), Dough Dough’s Hawaiian Cafe, tanked.

The restaurant closed “temporarily,” but the operators never came back. It appears no restaurant is in the cards for the new Gamblers General Store location.

Gamblers General Store

If you like gambling, this is the place for you. If not, WTF is wrong with you?

Gamblers General Store has been in operation since 1984. The store boasts 15,000 gambling products, including not only cards, dice and chips, but also items with awesome names like “lammers.”

Beyond the retail shop, the company’s makes some bank with personalized custom chips. Gamblers General Store has made chips for TV shows and movies, including “The Sopranos,” “Ocean’s 11” and even “Casino.” Both Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman and former Mayor Oscar Goodman get their promotional chips from Gamblers General Store, and that’s endorsement enough for us.

Our home is pretty much a hoarder’s paradise for items we’ve gotten from the Gamblers General Store, so check it out if you’re in the neighborhood.

Learn more at the official Web site.

Hard Rock/Virgin Las Vegas to Partner With Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment

There are lots of rumors swirling about an increased tribal presence in Las Vegas at the moment. We know, because we’re the one who’s been swirling them.

Tribey

Just because a word doesn’t exist doesn’t mean you can’t use it.

From casino purchases to other high-profile investments (give it a couple of weeks and we’ll be sharing more huge tribe-related scoop), it’s clear sovereign tribal nations have their eye on Las Vegas in a big way.

The first big move by a tribe in the Las Vegas market looks to be a partnership between Hard Rock Las Vegas, which is transitioning into Virgin Hotel Las Vegas, and Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment.

Mohegan Tribe Virgin Las Vegas

Vegas is full of surprises.

We’re told reliably the Mohegan tribe will be managing the casino at Virgin Hotel Las Vegas (technically, Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, but there’s only one planned at the moment, so we’re keeping it singular).

No official announcement has been made about this partnership, but when has that ever stopped us from spilling some tea?

As this news hasn’t been made public yet, there’s no concrete timeline. We do know Hard Rock will close after the Super Bowl (about April 1, 2020) for about four months (through July 2020) as the resort completes its changeover to Virgin Hotel. We trust Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment will be in place managing Virgin’s casino operations by that time (August 2020).

This is a huge partnership both for the Mohegan tribe and the owners of Hard Rock resort, JC Hospitality and Richard Branson’s Virgin Hotels.

Virgin hotel Las Vegas

Adios, Hard Rock. Hello, Virgin.

This gives the tribe a foothold in Vegas, and gives Virgin Hotel a whole new pool of potential customers who have played at the popular Mohegan Sun resort in Connecticut. Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment manages Mohegan Sun. Read more.

Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment (MGE) owns and manages resorts throughout the U.S., including in Connecticut, Atlantic City, Washington and Louisiana. Oh, and in South Korea. See more.

Interestingly, MGE owns the Connecticut Sun, a WNBA team, and the New England Black Wolves, a professional lacrosse team in the National Lacrosse League. In case you haven’t heard, sports is sort of thing in Las Vegas at the moment, despite our best efforts.

Join us in getting a crash course on Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment.

Expect official confirmation of this scoop in the next few weeks, and look forward to an influx of tribe-related headlines in the months to come.

Tropicana Opens Swanky New Trago Lounge

Tropicana has opened its new Trago Lounge, and we had to swing by for cocktails, video poker, a live DJ and mostly that first thing.

“Trago,” of course, is the first person singular present indicative of “trazer” in Spanish. As if that weren’t obvious.

Trago Lounge Tropicana

Make sure to roll the “r” when you say Trago. It will make you seem worldly.

“Trago” means sip or swig. In Portugese, it means “to quaff.” And if that made you giggle, please grow up. It means “drink with enthusiasm.”

Nailed it on the name.

Trago will be open 24 hours a day, the way Mother Nature intended.

The new bar sits just off the casino floor, in the footprint of the former Tropicana Lounge (which closed Sep. 10, 2018), and the space has gotten quite the overhaul.

Trago Tropicana lounge

Trago’s exterior design is composed of 1,114 interlocking squares. Related: Admit it, you believed us for a minute. Um, hello, it’s a photo caption. On the Internet.

It’s a relatively small space by Las Vegas lounge standards, about 3,500-square-feet, and can¬†accommodate 120 guests, which ups the intimacy factor.

Trago Lounge at Tropicana hits a lot of the right notes.

The vibe has a little touch of glamour, but without being pretentious.

The music level is refreshingly perfect. The night we visited, a Vegas fixture, Lydia Ansel, was doing DJ duty. Ansel is a classically trained violinist, and accompanies the music she’s playing. The violin is unobtrusive, and most guests weren’t even aware Ansel was playing live.

Trago Lydia Ansel violinist DJ

Some random anonymous dude just sent Lydia all those roses. Hint: It’s the violin.

We should probably get into the beverage aspect of the Trago Lounge before your head explodes.

The menu is fairly limited, but the drinks we tried were excellent. All are in the $16-18 range, which is the new normal for Strip casino lounges, so don’t freak out.

Trago Lounge Tropicana

The more you drink, the more interesting you become. To you, mainly.

A favorite was the Purple G&T (gin and tonic). We are not a gin or tonic person, but it was delicious.

It had Express gin, Italicus liqueur, fresh lime and Fever-Tree Elderflower Tonic. Which is, apparently, a thing.

Trago Lounge

Young flowers should respect their elderflowers.

The Tropical Margarita was also top-notch, and should appeal to tourists looking for a drink that matches the hotel’s beachy theme.

The Tropical Margarita had Don Julio Blanco tequila, Contreau orange-flavoured triple sec liqueur, fresh lime, passion fruit and Red Bull Tropical Edition. Now, you know why we take photos of cocktail menus.

Trago Lounge cocktail

Party in a glass.

The drink menu also has “Bourbon and Whiskey” and “Scotch and Cognac” sections, as well as draft beer, craft bottle beer and wine.

Trago Lounge also offers bottle service for $250 a pop. It’ll be interesting to see how that goes.

Video poker fans will be happy to see the Trago bar lined with 22 machines, although we trust seasoned players will wince when they see the pay tables (6/5 Bonus Poker). Then again, seasoned video poker players wince at just about everything.

While Trago won’t comp signature drinks for video poker players, they do comp bottled beer and well drinks.

The pours are watched closely, so no free pours here.

We hear Trago will be getting an automated drink monitoring system, but at the moment, you can get a pretty steady supply of drinks if you’re playing at a reasonable pace.

A definite selling point: The servers, hostesses and bartenders are all very attractive, if you’re into that kind of thing.

Trago Lounge waitresses

Thanks for playing along, you two.

And while we’re on selling points: Tropicana still has free parking. Hang in there, Tropicana!

Plus, that glorious stained glass above the casino.

Tropicana stained glass

Glorious.

Trago Lounge is a refreshing addition to the offerings at Tropicana, and aims to appeal to a younger customer than has been typical at the Tropicana Lounge and resort overall.

It’s great to see Tropicana making moves, investing in new venues and making an effort to keep pace with other casinos in the neighborhood, while taking care not to rankle longtime customers, many of whom still regularly use the word “rankle.”

If you pop into Trago, let us know what you think.

Trago Lounge at Tropicana

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Confirmed: Total Rewards Will Become Caesars Rewards

Caesars Entertainment has been kind enough to confirm a story we first broke back in October 2018: The company’s loyalty club, Total Rewards, will be rebranded as Caesars Rewards.

We are not a psychic, we just play one on the Interwebs.

The switch from Total Rewards to Caesars Rewards will take place Feb. 1, 2019.

Here’s a look at the new Caesars Rewards cards.

Caesars Rewards

Caesars Entertainment is resting on its laurels.

Beyond the name change, Caesars Entertainment assures the program itself won’t change. “You will continue to receive all of the same great benefits with Caesars Rewards and more,” says the Caesars Rewards Web site.

Most Caesars Entertainment loyalty club members will barely notice the rebrand, and they can continue to use their Total Rewards cards until they take part in the time-honored casino tradition of forgetting them in a slot machine.

There are a couple of tweaks to the loyalty club for certain tier levels. For example, Platinum members will now get a free night in Las Vegas or Atlantic City (so, a free night in Las Vegas, because Atlantic City) for every 5,000 tier credits earned in 2019, up to seven nights.

Diamond tier members will get that new perk, plus they’ll get two free nights at the new Caesars Resort Dubai. Which is an inexpensive freebie for Caesars, as only four Caesars Rewards members are likely to take advantage of the offer, ever.

Seven Stars members, the folks who gamble the most at Caesars Entertainment casinos, already get some great benefits, and will get even more as the Caesars Rewards rebrand rolls out. Translation: Some of these folks might actually take Caesars up on its Dubai benefit.

That’s about it. It’s a name change.

It’s worth noting Caesars Entertainment spent about $40 million to relaunch its Total Rewards program in 2012.

Total Rewards Diamond

The Caesars Entertainment loyalty club, with 55 million members, employs an aspirational strategy designed to get players to seek higher tier levels. The higher the tier, the greater the level of ass-kissery.

So, why is Caesars Entertainment tossing a valuable and established brand like Total Rewards? We can only guess.

It’s likely the powers that be have simply decided to make the most of the Caesars brand. It’s the name on the company’s flagship casino resort in Las Vegas, and has international heft as well. Caesars has casinos on four continents.

The company’s most recent deals have involved slapping the Caesars name on non-gaming resorts like the aforementioned Caesars Resort Dubai and another in the works, Caesars Palace Puerto Los Cabos.

As the Caesars Entertainment business model moves from building and acquiring to licensing, the value of its Caesars brand is more important than ever.

Overall, Las Vegas casino companies are pivoting toward being perceived as entertainment companies rather than casino companies. Hence, it’s not Harrah’s Rewards or Horseshoe Rewards.

The outgoing CEO of Caesars Entertainment, Mark Frissora, has said we’ll be seeing more of the Caesars brand, including the possibility of adding “Caesars Entertainment presents” to the name of all its hotel-casinos.

So, get ready for Caesars Rewards!

Since you’ll be replacing your Total Rewards cards, it’s a great time to take another look at our 11 Alternate Uses for Your Casino Players Club Card. You’re welcome.