Category Archives: Las Vegas Casinos

Triple Zero Roulette Debuts at Planet Hollywood and New York-New York and Everything Is Ruined

Triple zero roulette has been introduced at two casinos in Las Vegas, Planet Hollywood and New York-New York.

Venetian got the first triple zero roulette table (two, actually) on The Strip back in Oct. 2016, and it seemed inevitable the much-reviled game would proliferate.

That it has.

Here’s a look at the triple zero roulette table at Planet Hollywood.

Triple zero roulette

On the bright side, one of the “fun facts” about roulette stays the same: The numbers on a roulette table add up to 666.

“What is triple zero roulette?” you ask.

Well, a typical roulette table in U.S. casinos has two zeros.

On a table with two zeros, the house edge is 5.26%. That’s one of the highest house advantages in the casino.

On a triple zero roulette table, the house edge jumps up to 7.69%.

See, that’s what makes a much-reviled game so reviled.

Given the odds are worse on a triple zero table, why would people play it? You ask great questions!

Typically, the minimum bet on a triple zero roulette table is lower than on a double zero table.

Yes, there are some single zero tables in Las Vegas casinos, but they tend to be reserved for big spenders. An exception is the single zero table at Cromwell. There’s a premium to be paid for the better odds, of course. The minimum bet at Cromwell is $25.

Cromwell single zero roulette

The house edge in a single zero roulette game is 2.7%. You go, Cromwell.

How did we know more triple zero games would make their way to Las Vegas casinos? Another excellent question!

We knew because players at Venetian’s triple zero roulette table (see below) didn’t care at all about the less favorable odds.

Venetian roulette

Triple zero roulette tables are often packed when double zero tables are empty.

It was the same at Planet Hollywood during our visit.

Planet Hollywood has eight roulette tables. Seven have a $15 minimum, one has a $10 minimum. The lower table minimum is more than enough to entice recreational gamblers, and casinos couldn’t be happier about it.

Before you start calling triple zero roulette players stupid, consider this: They’re not gambling to make money. They’re playing to have fun.

And here’s a confession: We had fun playing triple zero roulette at Planet Hollywood, too. And we won money to boot.

We even made money on one of the bets you’ll only find at a triple zero roulette table. It’s a bet on any of the zeros, and it pays 11-to-1.

Triple zero roulette

Big thanks to Planet Hollywood for not asking security to Taser us for taking photos.

Oh, and while we’re at it, here’s another counter-intuitive fact about triple zero roulette: It can actually make your money last longer.

It’s true!

Despite disadvantageous odds, the lower table minimum at triple zero roulette means a typical player (assuming they make the minimum bet) will lose less over time than someone betting more at a double zero roulette table.

That’ll teach you to be less judgy.

So, no, not everything is ruined. But that doesn’t mean we have to like triple zero roulette.

Triple zero roulette is a symbol of an evolution taking place in Las Vegas casinos. As gambling revenue declines, casinos have to find new and clever ways of bolstering their bottom lines.

If guests play games with a higher house edge, casinos will continue to find ways to raise them even higher.

Angry showgirl

Just about sums it up.

The irony, of course, is gambling revenue is declining because the perceived value of gambling has declined. Casinos tighten their slots, so players play slots less. Casinos change 3-to-2 blackjack games to 6-to-5, so fewer play the game. It’s a vicious cycle.

Our strategy is to play the games where we have the most fun. That way, we can spend our time being entertained rather than doing math.

We’d love to hear your thoughts. Do you care about the number of zeros on your roulette table?

Thanks to our friends at the You Can Bet on That podcast for alerting us to the triple zero roulette table at Planet Hollywood.

Updated (4/26/18): Park MGM has also introduced triple zero roulette.

Updated (8/4/18): Since this story, a number of Las Vegas casinos have introduced triple zero roulette. Las Vegas casinos with triple zero roulette include:

  • Venetian and Palazzo
  • Planet Hollywood
  • Circus Circus
  • Golden Nugget
  • Park MGM
  • New York-New York
  • Harrah’s Las Vegas
  • Luxor
  • Wynn Las Vegas
  • Linq
  • Binion’s
  • Four Queens

 

Wynn Boston Harbor to Rebrand as Encore Boston Harbor

We have a long-standing policy of not writing stories about places other than Las Vegas, but scoop is scoop.

Word is Steve Wynn’s name will be stripped from the Wynn Boston Harbor project.

The $2.4 billion resort will be rebranded Encore Boston Harbor, according to a reliable source.

Encore Boston Harbor

We’ve never said Wynn Resorts doesn’t make pretty things.

Reportedly, promotional videos and other marketing materials for Encore Boston Harbor are already in the works.

Wynn Resorts executives have confirmed a rebrand is coming, but have not yet officially said the resort will be Encore Boston Harbor. That’s why you have us.

The change of course with Encore Boston Harbor follows an avalanche of sexual misconduct allegations against Steve Wynn who recently stepped down as CEO of Wynn Resorts. Wynn has also been accused of rape.

Wynn sold all his stock in the company as well. Yeah, it’s big deal.

Why are we expending precious keystrokes on a resort that’s not even in Las Vegas, making it 95% less interesting?

Well, here’s why: Wynn Resorts clearly understands its brand has been tainted by the Steve Wynn scandal and is making moves to control the damage.

We say there’s a very real chance Wynn Las Vegas will also rebrand as the fallout continues. Wynn executives claim otherwise, but it’s becoming increasingly clear some executives at Wynn Resorts are full of what industry insiders refer to as “horse manure.”

Another shift in branding is the Wynn Paradise Park project, which is currently being referred to as just Paradise Park.

The latest word is Paradise Park will be completed before whatever Wynn West turns out to be, a flip from previous reports.

The odds of the hotel announced for the former Alon site has a roughly zero percent chance of being called by its original name, Wynn West.

We were the first to report the Alon site sale, as well as the fact a new resort would be built on the site. Oh, like we weren’t going to mention that.

Alon site

Here’s the former Alon site today. There’s a bit of work to be done.

Wynn Resorts finds itself in a maelstrom at the moment. The only imaginable way Wynn stays on the side of Wynn Las Vegas is if Steve Wynn’s ex-wife, Elaine Wynn, takes the reins and there’s a purge of the company’s board.

Rumors inside Wynn Resorts abound that this scenario is possible if not probable. Elaine Wynn has a 9.26% stake in the company.

It’s time to come clean and hold those who covered up decades of bad behavior accountable. Read more about the Steve Wynn allegations and enjoy your Silkwood shower.

Update (3/30/18): The Boston Herald confirmed Wynn Resorts has registered multiple domain names based upon Encore Boston Harbor.

Update (4/27/18): Wynn Resorts has confirmed its plans to rename Wynn Boston Harbor to Encore Boston Harbor.

Here’s What’s Really Happening at Resorts World

Resorts World. It’s an enigma.

The Asian-themed resort from Genting Group is being built on the bones of the abandoned Echelon Place project.

Resorts World broke ground on May 5, 2015. Since then, progress on the bajillion-dollar resort has been agonizingly slow.

Here’s a look at Resorts World today.

Resorts World Las Vegas

Resorts World seems to be perpetually preparing for something to happen.

Oh, yes, there are cranes.

They showed up in late 2017, creating a warmth in our loin we had not experienced in some time given the repeated delays in construction of the $4 billion, 3,000-room hotel-casino.

The arrival of the cranes at Resorts World followed on the heels of hoopla about a construction manager being hired, as well as word Genting had finalized $400 million in contracts with vendors.

Anticipation was at an all-time high that Resorts World would actually be a thing.

Then came months and months of not a whole lot.

Resorts World has said publicly there are 400 workers on the site now.

Resorts World Las Vegas

It was on the Internet, it must be true.

From our observations, Resorts World either has a counting problem or a lying problem. Since casinos never lie, we’ll just assume the official Resorts World abacus is in the shop.

Here’s a look at the Resorts World site.

Four hundred constructions workers? The over/under was about a dozen during our most recent visit.

Resorts World claimed it would have 1,000 construction workers on-site by early 2018. Yeah, not so much.

Unless the construction workers at Resorts World are wearing cloaks of invisibility, it appears the only thing Resorts World is building at the moment is an exemplary record of horseshittery.

Still, there are some symbolic things happening at Resorts World. Beyond the crane theater, that is.

For the most part, those things are orange.

Resorts World Las Vegas

It’s happening at a sloth’s pace, but Resorts World appears to be increasing the size of its erection.

We are not a construction expert, but it appears concrete is being poured at various parts of the Resorts World hotel tower.

Here’s another orange thing.

Resorts World Las Vegas

This is undeniably a thing.

And let’s not forget this orange thing on the Strip-facing wall of the structure.

Resorts World Las Vegas

Most concrete mixes reach 70% of specified compressive strength after seven days, whatever that might actually mean.

Update (3/28/18): A rep of Forming Concepts, Inc. has informed us those orange things are the company’s “formwork,” specifically, “elevator core forms and shear wall lifters.” The forms represent 39 truckloads of equipment. We look forward to learning more!

Another area of progress is what’s been described as a “swatch” on the exterior of the Resorts World tower. We should know because we’re the one who described it that way. You can see it on the lower left of the photo above.

The “swatch” is a test of what the exterior of the hotel could look like, we assume.

Here’s how it looked in July 2017.

Resorts World Las Vegas

We got really excited about this at the time.

Now, here’s what the exterior samples looked like in Sep. 2017.

Resorts World Las Vegas

This reflective version of the exterior would’ve been very helpful for shaving.

Here’s what the exterior test looks like today.

Resorts World Las Vegas

Yes, we have issues, we’re not saying we don’t have issues.

Somebody’s taking a lot of time considering materials and color combinations to determine what Resorts World will ultimately look like.

As we’re rooting for Resorts World to become a reality, we’re going to go with “slow and steady wins the race” as Genting’s construction philosophy.

An alternative philosophy might be, “We’re not opening until we’re sure this puppy is going to make a profit.”

Resorts World Las Vegas

Hey, the crane guy wants to feel like he’s doing something, so just play along.

Resorts World sits at the north end of The Strip, so it could very well be waiting for the Las Vegas Convention Center expansion, the opening of The Drew (formerly Fountainebleau), the opening of Paradise Park (formerly Wynn Paradise Park), a renovation for The Strat (formerly Stratosphere), a new direction for SLS Las Vegas (formerly Sahara) and the sale of Lucky Dragon (formerly not in bankruptcy).

That’s right, it could very well be Resorts World is biding its time until there’s critical mass at the north end of The Strip. That’s what we’d do.

If we were building a $4 billion Las Vegas resort. With all our mountains of blog money.

Resorts World Las Vegas

Baby steps are still steps.

Ultimately, progress is progress, even if it isn’t readily discernible to the naked eye.

Here’s hoping “slow and steady” gives way to “a metric hell-ton of construction activity” in the months to come.

We can’t bear any more heartbreak at the former home of our beloved Stardust.

Stratosphere to Get $140 Million in Renovations, Will Call Itself “The Strat” Like the Rest of Us

The new owners of Stratosphere, Golden Entertainment, plan to invest $140 million in upgrades to the Las Vegas resort over the next three years.

In the process, Stratosphere will start calling itself by the name most of us do, The Strat.

Stratosphere

You sort of can’t miss it.

Golden Entertainment purchased Stratosphere and several other casinos (including two Arizona Charlie’s locations in Vegas) in Oct. 2017.

As part of the Strat renovation, nearly half its rooms (1,100 or so) will be refreshed, the casino floor will be upgraded and a new loyalty program will be rolled out.

Plans are for additional restaurants to come online, too, and the Top of the World restaurant will also be revamped.

Stratosphere

This is easily one of the best views in Las Vegas, which is saying something because we’ve been to strip clubs.

The resort will also get a new gastro-brewery near its sports book, as well as a new steakhouse and a bar “appealing to a younger demographic.”

The Strat will also embrace youth culture with a new casino space called Adrenaline.

There are also plans for a noodle bar (in Las Vegas, it’s the law) and Starbucks (again, the law) and food hall concept.

Renovations and additions will be done in phases to help avoid disruption. In the casino world, of course, “disruption” is a code word for “interruption in revenue generation.”

Included in the first phase of the renovations will be dramatic changes to the Stratosphere’s signage. Plans submitted to the City of Las Vegas show about 20 new additions to Stratosphere’s exterior.

Strat signage

It’s going to be a good year for Yesco.

In renderings, all the signage shows the use of “The Strat,” rather than the full name of the resort.

Here’s a look at the observation tower’s main marquee.

Stratosphere signage

In all the renderings, we could find no use of “Stratosphere” on the exterior of the building. Clean break.

Fun fact: That same marquee got a facelift in Feb. 2016.

The Strat marquee

We have officially taken a photo of everything.

Stratosphere reps haven’t confirmed whether the signage is indicative of a complete rebrand, per se, but we’d wager yep.

The Strat signage

Like a number of attractions in Las Vegas, the thrill rides at Stratosphere are suffering a bit at the moment. Get your act together, Millennials.

Here’s a look at additional upgrades coming to The Strat’s hotel tower.

See? “The Strat” just flows better, don’t you think?

The Strat signage

The “stratos” in “Stratosphere” comes from the Latin “stratus,” meaning “a spreading out.” Seems like a buffet relaunch opportunity right there.

Plans are also in the works for LED strip lighting to raise the visibility of the Strat’s hotel.

Strat signage renovation

We like our Vegas glowy.

The plans for upgraded lighting and signage are pretty slick, although we can never fully get onboard with plans to replace neon with LEDs. We’re sentimental like that.

Of course, there are always a few dissenting opinions when anything new is proposed, but expect the signage upgrades to happen in the next few months.

We quite enjoy our visits to the Stratosphere, especially the happy hour at its 107 SkyLounge, formerly Level 107 Lounge.

The substantial investment by Golden Entertainment shows they are optimistic about activity on the north end of The Strip, including the sale of SLS, the purchase of Fontainebleau, slow but steady work at Resort World and expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center.

The Strat logo

Finally, a casino rebrand that will take zero getting used to.

We love new things, so we look forward to seeing what The Strat has in store in addition to its impressive erection.

Oh, like you didn’t see that coming.

Or that.

Do you know this blog at all?

Comp Drink Monitoring Hits Casino Floor at Westgate

Due to our affinity for the hooch, we’ve kept our eye on casino comp drink monitoring for some time now. Now, we’re watching Westgate.

It all started with Mirage using vouchers to ensure guests were playing at a rate, and amount, to warrant their comped drinks.

Comped (or complimentary) drinks, of course, are the “free” drinks players earn while gambling.

Westgate Las Vegas

You remember the Westgate. Westgate was originally the International Hotel, then Las Vegas Hilton and LVH.

The practice of giving gamblers comped drinks has been around since the earliest days of Las Vegas, but now casinos are focused on the bottom line, and taking their cue from the Mirage, they’re using technology to ensure a return on their liquor investment.

It was a pretty big deal when Caesars Entertainment rolled out an automated, “red light, green light” drink monitoring system to all its bar top video poker machines.

Early reaction to comp drink monitoring was decidedly negative (ours included), but we quickly learned it wasn’t just beneficial for the casinos. Such systems mainly affect guests looking to get something (free, unlimited drinks) for nothing (“I put my dollar in the machine!”).

You know who you are.

In mid-2017, we reported comp drink monitoring systems would be coming to the casino floor, and that’s exactly what’s happened at Westgate.

The resort’s new system could be a glimpse into the future of free drinks in Las Vegas casinos.

Westgate recently unveiled its new loyalty club, WOW. “WOW stands for “World of Westgate.” The loyalty club launch coincided with the introduction of a new way to get drinks while you’re play slots.

Westgate loyalty club WOW

Is it “WOW Rewards is here” or “WOW Rewards are here?” We are a blog, not a grammarian.

A martini glass symbol on the slot machine’s video display gives players access to a remote drink ordering system. This is actually awesome. No more waiting for a waitress to take your order.

Westgate Las Vegas

Your slot machine just became a cocktail waitress remote control.

The new system is tied to your loyalty club card, and we hear using your card, or not, can have an impact on what drinks you can order and whether or not you have the option to order premium liquor brands.

The new system is designated with an unnecessary acronym, “BOSS,” for “Beverage Ordering Service System.”

The drink selection is robust, although as we always warn, know you’re getting generic liquor when you get comps, unless you see someone pouring from a bottle. The liquor swap applies to all Las Vegas casinos, by the way, so watch every pour. Or order bottled beer.

In a shocking move, we blew right by the rum and Coke option, going instead for a more whimsical drink popular with co-eds, Sex on the Beach.

Westgate Las Vegas

Now, if you could actually order sex on the beach from your slot machine, that would really be a leap forward. Note the ability to add the drink as a “favorite.” Your preferences follow you around on your loyalty club card.

The system accepts your order and shoots it to a service bar. The waitress uses an app to track who’s ordered what and where you’re playing.

It’s all pretty sophisticated stuff, although we hear the kinks are still being worked out. Apparently, WiFi reception isn’t great in the Westgate’s casino, so waitresses often have to bypass the use of their app.

It’s slick to see the name of your cocktail waitress, and the display even provides a status report on your drink.

Westgate drink monitoring

Sandra isn’t a robot yet. Yet.

There are few things more magical than the words “Drink Order Pending.”

Westgate

We’re pretty sure these devices are from Bally Systems, part of Scientific Games. They know a little something about Pavlovian responses.

We sort of did our own status report by timing the delivery time of our drink. It was about four minutes.

Westgate drink monitoring

Yes, we have issues. We’re not saying we don’t have issues.

Presumably, if you order a drink at one machine, then switch machines, a waitress can still find you if you use your player’s club card. Typically, you’d have to hope the waitress remembers you when you order and is able to somehow track you down.

All good stuff, right?

Well, it’s all fun and games until the drink monitoring kicks in.

So, after a couple of minutes, we attempted to order another drink, and the BOSS put the kibosh on that right quick.

The system prevents ordering another drink before 15 minutes has passed. We suspect that isn’t related to amount or rate of play, or tier level. That’s an over-serving thing.

Westgate drink monitoring

You’re a slot machine, not our mom!

The prevention of over-serving is one of the casino industry’s go-to arguments for drink monitoring. There’s sort of a standard of three drinks per hour in the industry, and if you figure in 15 minutes per drink, with a five minute delivery time, that math fits the guideline.

Another selling point for this type of system is the savings in costs, including labor.

Waitresses can presumably cover a larger area because the ordering component of the process is removed, even with some trouble-makers who are ordering the old-fashioned way. You know, with human interaction.

Which sort of speaks to one of the potential problems of such automated systems. Removing or reducing the human touch of interacting with your waitress is a potential pitfall.

As with comp drink monitoring, it changes the casino experience, and may do so in unexpected ways.

We stepped back from these thoughts for a minute to win a jackpot.

Westgate slot jackpot

Slot machines, the way nature intended.

You can bet the Culinary Union isn’t going to love the implementation of such systems, especially if it means a reduction in the workforce to save costs. The union is about to enter into negotiations with Las Vegas casino companies, and we’d bet money there will be lots of chatter about automation and how it affects their membership.

This isn’t the first casino with a remote ordering system (Venetian and Palazzo’s Drinks2U system broke that ground in Vegas, and it’s not uncommon at casinos in other cities), but it’s the first time we’ve seen it used as Westgate has.

The launch of the system hasn’t been without its glitches, from what we hear.

When it debuted, the system let customers order any liquor, even premium liquor, with no restrictions. That’s all been resolved. Unfortunately.

Drink ordering system aside, Westgate remains an enigma on The Strip.

Westgate

Westgate was once home to “Star Trek: The Experience.” Remnants of it remain.

Ridiculously large sports book. Annoying, inescapable live music in the casino (couple with a blaring P.A. system straight from the poker room). Generally lifeless staff. Lots of timeshare salespersons.

Not to mention this awkward slot machine.

Versailles slot machine

Has no one at Westgate actually seen the movie?

On the bright side, the slots at Westgate feel loose (a too-rare feeling on The Strip), and those free drinks are just a touch or two away.

Westgate Las Vegas Elvis statue

The hand of the Elvis statue in the Westgate’s lobby is a must-rub Las Vegas icon, much like Steve Wynn.

Westgate is among the first to implement this comped drink delivery and monitoring system, but it won’t be the last time you see it.

For better or worse (it’s both), welcome to the new normal in Las Vegas.

SLS Buyer Alex Meruelo Could Also Acquire Lucky Dragon

You want scoop, you’ve got it. We’re hearing Alex Meruelo, buyer of SLS Las Vegas, is working on a deal to acquire the ailing Lucky Dragon.

A source shares that Meruelo goes before gaming next week related the SLS sale, but is expected to also express his intention to buy the Lucky Dragon.

Lucky Dragon

The potential of SLS and Lucky Dragon being owned by the same company opens up some fascinating possibilities.

Lucky Dragon closed its casino and restaurants in Jan. 2018, and was supposed to go on the auction block on Feb. 6, but the auction was pushed back to Feb. 22, 2018.

That new date could very well have been impacted by discussions between Lucky Dragon, its lenders and Meruelo Group.

In an interesting twist, it was the closure of Lucky Dragon that apparently shook loose the stalled sale of SLS.

SLS Las Vegas

Dibs on this guy. Again.

The sale of SLS has been a tad bumpy, with investor lawsuits flying and the powerful Culinary Union taking jabs at Alex Meruelo because he might oust the union as a cost-saving measure.

In SLS news, a source with direct access to SLS insiders says the rebranded resort is likely to be called Grand Sahara.

It’s believed all the existing SLS restaurants will be out when the new ownership takes over, with an eye toward mirroring amenities of Grand Sierra Resort in Reno.

There’s more to come, so stay tuned, a saying we fully acknowledge is now about as relevant as “bee’s knees” and “cat’s pajamas.”