Category Archives: Las Vegas Casinos

Vital Vegas Podcast, Ep. 110: Let’s Vegas Again

Let’s talk about the reopening of Vegas, finally!

There’s so much good news, we’re going to have our podcast let out. What does that even mean? Who the hell knows? The bottom line: We get to gamble again!

In this episode, we chat with Derek Stevens, owner of The D and Golden Gate, about giving away 2,000 free flights to Las Vegas.

Derek Stevens

Thanks to Derek Stevens for being on our podcast and sorry about the parts where we talk.

We also get a sneak preview of plans for Ahern Hotel, formerly the Lucky Dragon.

Chef Marc Sgrizzi talks about his new restaurant, Chef Marc’s Italian Steakhouse, and also tells us how to pronounce his name.

Chef Marc's Italian Steakhouse

Ahern Hotel has some sexy stuff in store.

We’ve got all the latest scoop you won’t hear anywhere else, and some scoop we heard elsewhere but changed just enough to avoid getting into too much trouble.

Don’t miss our hastily slapped-together listicle, “11 Things We’re Doing on June 4.” Hint: They all involve gambling and drinking. Shocker.

It’s the podcast your mother would’ve warned you about if she weren’t so busy reading your diary.

Take a listen!

All Fremont Street Casinos Open June 4, Fremont Street Experience on June 3

All the casinos along Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas have confirmed they’ll open on June 4, 2020.

That sound you hear is this blog becoming fully engorged.

Fremont Street

Let’s Fremont again.

The casinos along Fremont Street are The D, Golden Gate, Plaza, Golden Nugget, Fremont, Binion’s and Four Queens.

Just-off-Fremont Downtown Grand and The Cal will also open on June 4.

In the case of some casinos, not all dining options or other amenities will be available upon reopening. The casinos and bars are really the important things, anyway.

As for the Fremont Street Experience pedestrian mall, officials say they’ll be open on June 3 at 9:00 a.m.

Fun fact: Virtually no one has ever gotten up early enough to see Fremont Street Experience at 9:00 a.m. If they have, they’re doing Vegas wrong.

Fremont Street closed

There’s a light at the end of the sad.

At the moment, the newly-renovated Viva Vision video screen, is playing a countdown to the reopening of casinos downtown and on The Strip. Specifically, June 4 at 12:01 a.m.

While the Fremont Street Experience mall opens June 3, it will do so without its signature live bands. Announcement of the venue’s free summer concert series was derailed by the COVID-19 crisis, and there’s been no word as to whether any of the planned concerts will happen this year.

In related news, the SlotZilla zipline will reopen on June 4 at 4:00 p.m.

SlotZilla Las Vegas

Time flies when you’re in lockdown. Welcome back, SlotZilla.

Demand is expected to be strong downtown (including ours) upon reopening. The buzz is hotels both downtown and on The Strip are receiving unexpected levels of room bookings, despite the fact hotels and casinos are currently limited to 50% occupancy.

Downtown Las Vegas is much less reliant on conventions and Asian visitors than The Strip, so it’s expected downtown could recover more quickly than other destinations.

We are personally going to leave our stimulus money in a variety of slot machines and bars along Fremont the minute they reopen. You know, to support Las Vegas. We’re selfless like that.

Casino Owner Gives Away 2,000 Free Flights to Las Vegas

Derek Stevens, owner of The D, Golden Gate and the under-construction Circa Las Vegas, gave away 2,000 flights to Las Vegas to help kick-start visitation and support airline travel following the COVID-19 shutdown.

Las Vegas casinos have been closed since March 18, but many will reopen on June 4, 2020.

Stevens initially offered up 1,000 free flights on May 27, 2020, but those were snatched up within a couple of hours. Another 1,000 flights were made available later in the day. Travelers grabbed those almost immediately as well.

Derek Stevens

Derek Stevens just sort of gets it.

Derek Stevens made it clear those who took advantage of the free flights did not have to stay at his Las Vegas casinos, although many booked rooms at The D and Golden Gate.

Reservation lines were overwhelmed, and many folks on the company’s player development team (VIP hosts) took to the phones to assist reservations staff. They still couldn’t keep up with the demand.

Demand, of course, has been a big question of late. Casinos across the country have seen record revenue since they’ve reopening, but some have questioned how quickly Las Vegas visitation will recover, or if it will at all.

Given our own level of pent up demand, we suspect Vegas will see a healthy level of visitation right out of the gate. Hotels, casinos and restaurants will be limited to 50% capacity, however.

Here’s one last look at an empty Longbar at The D. Let’s hope we never see this again.

Longbar empty

The end of the sadness is near. Or “nigh,” if you’re fancy.

We did a complete walk-through of The D’s empty casino, so check it out.

While our usually reliable contacts at The D aren’t talking, we’re putting the over/under for the 2,000 one-way flights giveaway at $250,000.

As for the nearby Circa Las Vegas resort, it’s looking gorgeous.

Circa Golden Gate

Downtown’s oldest casino, Golden Gate, blends seamlessly with Circa, the newest. Bottom line: We should win far more awards for this blog.

Construction of Circa, set to cost in the neighborhood of $1.2 billion, has continued throughout the shutdown, so the new resort is on pace to open as planned in December 2020.

Circa’s floors are about two thirds built out, and it’s already the tallest structure in downtown Las Vegas.

Circa Las Vegas

Our future home away from home, Circa.

It now appears the majority of casinos in downtown Las Vegas will open June 4, 2020.

The D’s hotel will open June 3, with the casino opening one minute after they’re allowed to, per Derek Stevens.

We’ll see you at Longbar one minute after that.

Checking In on Progress at Resorts World Las Vegas

Resorts World is looking more and more like a proper Las Vegas resort, so we stopped by to check out the progress.

Boom.

Resorts World

We like to think “boom” makes things more dramatic. Play along.

In case that wasn’t dramatic enough, take a look at our photo from August 2016.

Resorts World 2016

Modesty precludes us from reminding you how “essential” we are, probably.

Resorts World, owned by Malaysia-based Genting Group, is a new casino resort on the Las Vegas Strip slated to open in summer 2021. Thankfully, it doesn’t appear that timeline has been slowed by the COVID-19 shutdown.

It’s really important Las Vegas have something to look forward to right now.

The hotel tower was topped off in August 2019, and construction now extends nearly to Las Vegas Boulevard. It’s mostly shopping, but who cares? Exciting!

Resorts World

The Resorts World hotel tower was built on the bones of Echelon Place, probably farther from the sidewalk than the current owners would’ve preferred. We play the hand we’re dealt.

Resorts World is 59 stories tall and will have about 3,400 rooms. The resort is expected to cost about $4.3 billion.

Resorts World was originally going to have an Asian theme, but that was nixed, along with any hopes of live pandas.

Here’s a look at the most recent rendering of Resorts World Las Vegas.

Resorts World Vegas

Resorts World has already started testing the lights on its west tower.

Look closely, and you can see how some of the features in the renderings are being brought to life.

Resorts World Las Vegas casino

Just take our money. We’re ready to party.

Dropping the Asian theme was one of many changes at Resorts World since the project was first announced back in 1865.

Here’s a look at one of the original renderings, where Resorts World was going to have seven hotel towers. The only constant in Vegas is change.

Resorts World Vegas

The original vision for Resorts World was a tad extra.

Resorts World recently released new renderings of some of its interiors, including for bars and some of its meeting areas.

Asian theme out, whimsy in.

What a wild ride it’s been for Resorts World, with multiple delays (most intentional) and numerous staffing changes.

The latest buzz (ours, to be specific) is Resorts World is shaping up to make a splash when it opens in 2021, and we love us some Las Vegas newness.

Word is the resort is sparing no expense in its design and construction, and we’ve also heard a serious investment is being made in wrangling world-class entertainment.

A number of potential headliners have been in the mix, including the first lady of residencies, Celine Dion. We’re actually the only one that’s floated that rumor, but Resorts World hasn’t denied it, so we’ll take it.

Resorts World

Dem views, tho.

Check out our vast and poorly-focused photo gallery for more of the latest from Resorts World. It many have taken a pandemic for us to fully appreciate the splendor of Resorts World, but we’re a bigtime cheerleader at the moment.

Absolutely nothing can compare to that new casino smell.

Update (5/28/20): Resorts World is installing and testing its video screen.

Resorts World video screen

Resorts World is apparently using Windows 95. We kid. It’s going to be awesome.

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.

Walk-Through of The D’s Empty Casino is Eerie, Surreal and Unforgettable

It’s a once-in-a-lifetime situation. See, Las Vegas casinos don’t close. Typically.

Few imagined they ever would, but now Las Vegas casinos have been closed for two months as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 saga.

The D empty casino

We were going to ease you into this, but you can handle it.

We’ve avoided visiting The Strip and downtown to capture Las Vegas during the shutdown because, well, it’s too damned depressing.

As chatter turns toward casinos reopening (all eyes are now on June 1), we figured it was time to chronicle a closed casino for posterity.

Our pick: The D, one of our favorite places to drink and gamble and drink in Las Vegas. Yes, we said drink twice. There’s a reason. We drink.

empty Las Vegas casino

You will try to think of something sadder, but you will probably fail.

The D was once Fitzgerald’s, and is owned by Derek and Greg Stevens, who also own Golden Gate, the Downtown Las Vegas Events Center and Circa, a new casino resort opening in December 2020 on the site of the former Las Vegas Club.

Our stroll through The D’s casino, without a single soul inside, was utterly surreal.

The D is known for its lively atmosphere, player-friendly games, louder-than-typical music, plentiful TV screens (usually showing sports), dancing dealers, Sigma Derby (a classic, coin-operated horse racing slot machine, pictured below), flair bartenders, people-watching and endless supply of colorful characters.

Sigma Derby at The D

If anyone ever asks if a slot machine can have a cult-like following, just say these two words: “Sigma Derby.”

As we captured video of the entirety of The D’s uninhabited casino, we experienced a surprising amount of sadness at the loss of our home-away-from-home, but also a renewed sense of appreciation for the people who serve us drinks, laugh at our stupid jokes while playing craps, dance in revealing outfits, shout at TV screens when their team scores a goal and everyone else who makes Vegas casinos so, well, Vegas.

Here’s a look at The D’s two-level casino. One take, no edits. Behold something you’ve never seen before and will never see again.

We’re still sort of rattled.

There are some things in Vegas you can always rely upon. Noise and excitement and chips clinking and drunk people acting like fools are some of those things.

Instead, just nothing. A big empty and a big sad.

Vue Bar The D

We miss you, Vue.

In a way we never realized before, we need The D back. We need everything back. We need the overbearing security guards at Linq, Cosmo’s high limit room cookies, the martinis at Triple George, the ridiculously overpriced drinks at Mr. Coco inside Palms, the broken escalators, the concierges who know everyone, the lunacy of “Absinthe,” the snooty salespeople at Wynn Plaza, the bone-in filet at Joe’s in the Forum Shops, the Strat’s elevator ride, Mirage’s lucky mermaids, the party at Flamingo’s Carlos’n Charlie’s, the poker rooms and bingo parlors, the cranky craps dealers and stern pit bosses, and yes, even the Sahara.

We need it all back.

We need our friends back.

We need our life back.

We need to Vegas again.