Category Archives: Las Vegas Casinos

Classic Keno Lounge to Close at Four Queens Casino

The keno lounge at Four Queens isn’t fancy, but it’s a fixture of downtown, and it’s going away.

The last day for the Four Queens keno lounge is May 31, 2021.

The closure was confirmed by lounge staff.

It’s weird how you can miss something you never did there.

The lounge’s manager says they’re working on getting the keno team into other positions at Four Queens or its sister casino, Binion’s.

Keno lounges are increasingly rare in Las Vegas, as they don’t make a lot of money and take up valuable floor space better used by offerings that generate more revenue, typically slot machines.

Labor costs in keno rooms aren’t insignificant, either.

The keno lounge manager says Four Queens has something in the works for the space, just off the main casino floor near the security desk, but wouldn’t share the plans just yet.

In Vegas, even the things that never change change.

For many, memories of keno rooms are some of the fondest. Back in the day, keno “runners” would collect wagers in restaurants, but now we’re not aware of any Las Vegas casino
that has them.

Keno rooms face some of the same challenges as poker rooms, many of which have also gone away. The pandemic made the situation even worse. About a third of all Las Vegas poker rooms have closed permanently in the last year.

Poker even went away at Binion’s, the original home of the World Series of Poker, although it’s expected to return.

While keno doesn’t make a lot of money for casinos, they’re an old-school amenity and players will have to seek out other options.

Downtown, there are keno rooms at The D, Fremont and Plaza.

If you thought we were going to skip this opportunity, you don’t know this blog at all.

It’s worth mentioning the decline in keno rooms isn’t all sad. Live keno has the worst odds in a casino, with a house edge approaching a whopping 30 percent. By comparison, the house edge in roulette is about five percent.

In a way, the closure of a keno room is saving novice gamblers from themselves.

Still, keno has always sort of suited the Four Queens brand, a place for value-seeking visitors to kill some time while taking advantage of comped drinks.

Thanks to Patrick Q. for passing along this tip about the closure of the keno room at Four Queens.

When we hear what’s in store for the keno lounge space at Four Queens, we’ll let you know. In the meantime, dibs on that epic stained glass sign or at least some vintage balls. Which, we should add, would make a great band name.

Ellis Island Casino to Host Pop-Up Tiki Bar

One of our favorite Las Vegas casinos, Ellis Island, is spicing things up with a pop-up tiki bar in June.

The second floor of its Front Yard venue will transform into a “delightfully kitschy, tiki bar escape” from June 3 to July 4, 2021.

Related: Delightfully Kitschy would make a great band name.

Ellis tiki bar

Somebody should give the Brady kids a heads up. Yes, that’s a reference from 1972. Don’t make it awkward.

The food at Front Yard is already universally excellent, but the culinary team is creating a custom menu just for the tiki bar experience.

Items like the Teriyaki Chicken Burger, Tiki Quesadilla and Coconut Shrimp will only be available
on the second floor, but guests can still get items on Front Yard’s everyday menus.

We remain optimistic about these offerings despite what is clearly pineapple on a pizza.

Naturally, there will be 10 island-themed specialty cocktails.

To add to the appeal of the tiki bar even further, there will be two blackjack tables.

Ellis Island is doing what it does best: Food. Drink. Gambling. Value.

Now, all those things get a tropical twist at The Island at Ellis.

Ellis Island Island

The Island at Ellis Island. Also, Las Vegas is known as the “Ninth Island.” It’s the “Inception” tiki bars.

If it were anywhere else, it would be a little goofy, but it’s flipping Ellis Island, so we can’t wait.

Starting June 3, the tiki bar will be open Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. to midnight; Mondays from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.; and Tuesdays through Thursdays from 4:00 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Why the breaks in the hours? Have you ever been to a tropical island? Da kine afternoon nap, bruddah.

Break out your Hawaiian shirt or muumuu, and drink up while you can. The tiki bar at Ellis Island is a limited engagement, unless we have anything to say about it.

Update (6/1/21): We got our hands on the menu for the Ellis Island tiki bar. Have a look.

We’ll take any exclusive we can get!

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.

MGM Resorts Confirms Return of Paid Parking

MGM Resorts has officially confirmed our scoop, paid parking returns to the company’s Las Vegas resorts starting June 1, 2021.

A statement from MGM Resorts said, “Service and business needs blah blah focused on expanding our amenities blah blah blah demand blah blah.”

In layperson’s terms: Paid parking sucks, MGM Resorts started this crap in the first place, and it’s back to sucking again on June 1.

Paid parking

Don’t shoot the messenger.

On the bright side, the start of paid parking in Las Vegas inspired one of our most viral stories, ever.

Also on the bright side, parking has been free for months at MGM Resorts casinos in Las Vegas.

Caesars Entertainment restored paid parking on Oct. 30, 2020.

MGM Resorts hotels in Las Vegas include Bellagio, Park MGM, NoMad, New York-New York, Aria, Vdara, Mirage, MGM Grand, Excalibur, Luxor, Mandalay Bay and Delano.

Fun fact: You’re probably saying Delano wrong.

There’s actually a lot of bright side here, but the bright side isn’t as funny.

Las Vegas Monopoly

Still holds up, sadly.

First, parking will remain free for locals, for the first three hours of their visit.

Second, we never paid for parking at MGM Resorts casinos because we got their M Life MasterCard credit card (no annual fee). The credit card bumps you up to Pearl status in the company’s loyalty club, and Pearl status members (and higher) get free parking.

Caesars has a similar deal with its credit card, but that one requires $5,000 in spend per year.

Third, valet parking is coming back to Aria, Vdara, Bellagio and MGM Grand on May 25, and all other MGM Resorts casinos on June 1.

MGM paid parking

Don’t panic. We use terms like “tho” ironically, to give the appearance of relevance.

It’s no coincidence paid parking is coming back to MGM Resorts casinos right around the time the Stanley Cup playoffs commence. That’s the hockey one. Las Vegas has a team now, the Vegas Golden Knights.

Thanks a lot, sports!

The return of paid parking was inevitable, unfortunately.

Caesars Entertainment made the move largely to prevent some of the trouble happening inside its garages and casinos. They earned some brownie points for donating parking revenue proceeds to charity. MGM Resorts has made no such promises.

While the two biggest players on The Strip have paid parking, there are still a number of resorts that have free parking.

The casinos on The Strip with free parking include: Tropicana, TI, Venetian and Palazzo, Casino Royale, Circus Circus, Cosmopolitan, Wynn and Encore and The Strat.

Yes, The Strat is on The Strip. Don’t get us started.

Planet Hollywood and Miracle Mile Shops have always had free parking, but we’ve scooped the local news yet again by sharing that era will soon come to an end soon enough.

Linq paid parking

We prefer our parking machines inoperable, thanks.

Free parking was fun while it lasted, but as MGM Resorts has confirmed, paid parking in Las Vegas is here to stay.

Here’s hoping these folks use some of those parking fees to spruce up their self-parking garages. Caesars Entertainment is the worst culprit, with several of its parking structures looking like toxic waste sites. Looking at you, Flamingo.

Parking is often a Las Vegas visitor’s initial interaction with a Las Vegas resort, and getting dinged for parking isn’t a great first impression. We get that charging for parking is a business reality, but it contributes to the perception of Las Vegas as moving away from value to nickel-and-diming.

That perception, along with increased competition across the country, are going to present unprecedented challenges for Sin City following the post-pandemic bump in visitation.

How do we know? Our crystal ball isn’t just for paid parking scoop and casino sales. Ignore its predictions at your peril.

Confirmed: Palms Casino Sold to San Manuel Band of Mission Indians

As we were the first to report, the sale of Palms casino to the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians has been confirmed.

Thanks for following up on our scoop, every other media outlet!

Also confirmed: Modesty is exhausting.

Palms San Manuel

You knew there was a reason we went to the trouble of Photoshopping this.

The sale price for Palms is $650 million.

The tribe recently created a new entity, San Manuel Gaming and Hospitality Authority, to operate Palms.

In a statement, Red Rock Resorts (Station Casinos) said the sale is expected to close by the end of 2021, but we’d say it’ll be closer to 90 days. After that, it’s licensing time, which could take in the neighborhood of six to nine months before Palms could reopen again.

As we’ve shared previously, San Manuel telegraphed its intention to buy a Las Vegas casino in a variety of ways, including advertising at T-Mobile arena, partnering with the Las Vegas Raiders and donating millions to Las Vegas nonprofits and UNLV.

While not reported elsewhere, we have further details about the sale, including that San Manuel plans to keep the Palms name.

In addition, we understand San Manuel plans to reopen Palms as quickly as possible. Anticipate the announcement of a job fair soon.

The existing Palms restaurant concepts are believed to be out, although discussions with Michael Symon’s Mabel’s BBQ are ongoing from what we hear.

The sale of Palms follows on the heels of denials the resort was even for sale. We had some eloquent thoughts on that at the time.

Palms never reopened after the mandatory closure in March 2020. We were the first to share the Palms wouldn’t reopen under its current ownership.

We’ll play nice when the Review-Journal starts giving attribution.

While Red Rock Resorts got a solid return on what it spent to buy Palms, $313 million, the company didn’t come close to recouping its $1 billion (if you include the cost of a major renovation, $690 million).

We’ll put it plainly: Palms was an unmitigated disaster for Red Rock Resorts, a huge financial misstep based upon arrogance (bordering on delusion) and a misguided vision even its own executive team didn’t seem onboard with, according to industry chatter.

And don’t get us started on Kaos, the trainwreckery against which all others are measured.

We have high hopes for Palms under its new ownership, the San Manuel tribe. Its Southern California casino is printing money, and everyone we’ve talked to speaks highly of the operation.

Palms will be the first Las Vegas casino owned by a tribe, although feathers have been popular here for ages, if you get our drift.

While Palms may never return to its mythical “former glory,” it doesn’t have to. It just has to provide a solid, gambling-focused experience, keep locals in mind and (gasp) turn a
profit.

Welcome to Las Vegas, San Manuel. Show us what you’ve got.

Palms Casino Sold to San Manuel Band of Mission Indians

As we reported days ago, Palms Casino has reportedly been sold. Now, we can share who’s buying: The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians.

San Manuel runs an wildly successful casino in Southern California, but this is the first time the tribe has undertaken a venture in Las Vegas.

This scoop hasn’t been officially confirmed, but you know it will be soon.

San Manuel

Las Vegas is about to get even more tribal.

While this purchase may come as a surprise to many, San Manuel did a pretty good job of telegraphing their intention to get into the Las Vegas market.

The tribe has advertised extensively in Las Vegas, including on the digital billboards at T-Mobile during Vegas Golden Knights games.

While it didn’t get nearly the media coverage it deserved, San Manuel also donated $250,000 to Las Vegas non-profits during the pandemic. The non-profits included Shade Tree, Make-A-Wish, Nevada Public Radio and The Smith Center.

Feel free to start taking our word as gospel at any time.

San Manuel also donated $9 million to UNLV’s hospitality and law schools to expand tribal gaming and hospitality studies.

San Manuel is also a founding partner of the Las Vegas Raiders.

For anyone paying attention, it was pretty clear San Manuel Band of Mission Indians was coming to Las Vegas. Now, you know where.

Station Casinos invested $1 billion in Palms. Let’s just say it went pear-shaped.

Fun fact: The CEO of San Manuel, Laurens Vosloo, was formerly the Exec. Director of Finance for Las Vegas Sands Corp. Vosloo graduated with dual Bachelor of Science Degrees from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in Accounting and Management and earned his CPA license in Nevada.

Palms never reopened after the mandatory casino closure on March 18, 2020. The casino struggled following an expensive overhaul, and suffered serious losses with its doomed nightclub/dayclub, Kaos. Read more.

We trust San Manuel won’t make the same missteps as the former owner. All due respect to Cardi B and her 15-minute, $300,000 “shows.”

We’re just relieved the buyer of Palms isn’t a REIT (real estate investment trust) or investment fund. New blood, please.

San Manuel’s purchase of Palms is one of several moves by tribes in Las Vegas. Mohegan Sun currently runs the casino at Virgin Las Vegas, and we’ve shared the rumor the Seminoles are expected to purchase Bally’s.

Details of the Palms purchase aren’t available yet, but we wanted to drop some boom, anyway.

More to come!

Update (4/30/21): As promised we’ve got updates up the yang. We’re hearing the sale price of Palms to San Manuel is in the neighborhood of $660 million. (See below for an update. Sale price is confirmed at $650 million.)

The Palms sale deal with San Manuel is expected to close in about 90 days.

We understand San Manuel plans to reopen Palms as quickly as possible after the sale is finalized, and the resort will keep the Palms name (which makes sense, as it’s still a strong, recognized brand). A Palms job fair in the coming weeks is anticipated.

Early plans do not include a splashy dayclub/nightclub scene, or expensive headliner entertainment, avoiding some pitfalls of the prior ownership.

We assumed none of the existing restaurant partnerships, such as with Michael Symon at Mabel’s, wouldn’t survive the change in ownership, but it appears discussions are being had to carry certain venues over.

The timing of the reopening of Palms is not only contingent upon staffing up, but San Manuel doesn’t currently have a Nevada gaming license. We understand the license approval will be fast-tracked, but it’s unknown when that will be finalized.

Check back again for all the exclusive scoop about the Palms casino sale to the San Manuel tribe! Exciting changes are in the works at this popular off-Strip casino resort.

Update (5/4/21): The sale of Palms to San Manuel has been confirmed. The sale price is $650 million. The transaction is expected to close by the end of 2021. Translation: Boom.