Category Archives: Las Vegas WTF

Downtown Grand Snafu Reaps Big Wins for Players

It’s a Las Vegas story almost too good to be true, but it happened, and it’s sure to become the stuff of casino legend.

Recently, an error in Downtown Grand’s loyalty club system resulted in thousands of dollars in unearned free play for customers and tens of thousands in losses for the downtown casino.

Here’s how it went down.

On Mother’s Day, May 14, 2017, guests using their player’s cards noticed something strange when they accessed their Downtown Grand Rewards loyalty club accounts.

Rather than the typical free play offered by the casino, customers realized they were being given hundreds of additional dollars in free play for no apparent reason.

Ultimately, a system glitch resulted in each slot player receiving nearly a thousand dollars in free play ($970, to be exact), irrespective of their previous level of play. Or, to put it into the parlance of casino management, “Aieeee.”

Downtown Grand $1,000 rebate

They weren’t kidding.

Word of the snafu spread quickly, with customers alerting friends and relatives by phone and text so they, too, could take advantage of the administrative fluke.

While casino free play has no cash value, players are allowed to keep winnings resulting from the use of free slot play.

Downtown Grand’s incident (most likely caused by human error, according to casino insiders) resulted in players cashing out for substantial sums as a result of the gaff.

There’s no way to know how many players took advantage of Downtown Grand’s mistake or how long the glitch was in effect before casino management rectified it, but it’s safe to say the casino took a hit for tens of thousands of dollars.

One customer inquired about the abnormally generous free play and a Downtown Grand employee claimed a similar aberration had transpired a week prior, but players had mistakenly received free play in the $100 range.

Downtown Grand

We totally got a photo release from this guy and his suspenders, so no worries.

While magical for gamblers, errors like the one at Downtown Grand can do serious damage to a casino’s bottom line. Casino computer systems are sophisticated, but remain vulnerable to human fallibility.

The good news is Downtown Grand seems to have found its footing in recent months. We’ve heard the resort’s room bookings are strong and there are plans to add more room inventory soon.

The resort has also announced it will transform a nearby parking structure into The Quad (don’t get us started about the name), an entertainment district featuring a tavern, concert venue and fitness center. Read more.

Downtown Grand The Quad

Yay, new.

Here’s a better look at the plans for The Quad at Downtown Grand.

So, here’s the question: If you realized you were getting a thousand dollars in free play you hadn’t earned, what would you do? Would you keep playing or report the error to casino officials?

Let us know. We’re a Las Vegas blog, so we won’t judge. Probably.

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14 Sips of New, Cool and WTF in Downtown Las Vegas

Things move fast in Las Vegas, so we’ve carelessly slapped together a list of 14 new things happening in downtown Las Vegas to keep you in the loop.

Why 14 things? Well, it was originally 20, but in Sin City, the house always takes its vig. Or something.

1. Golden Gate Expansion

The expansion of the Golden Gate into the former La Bayou space is moving at a brisk pace. Note: Every great list of Las Vegas things begins with a security breach.

Golden Gate expansion

Golden Gate is doing a lot with a little. La Bayou was a mere 25 feet wide and 130 feet deep.

It’s expected the new structure will be completed in August 2017 and will feature 100 new slot machines. Here’s an inside look at the expansion construction.

2. Pop-Up BBQ

Across Fremont Street from the Golden Gate, a new BBQ truck has taken up residence in a spot where two shops used to be. Find it between the closed Mermaids and Glitter Gulch strip club.

The shops were purchased by Derek and Greg Stevens for $13.5 million and the space will eventually be part of a new resort, currently referred to as 18 Fremont.

BBQ truck

There are only about four things on the menu. That means less time waffling, more time carnivoring.

It seems the BBQ truck idea is catching on, and the pop-up restaurant will be in place as demolition of the closed Las Vegas Club begins in Q3. Derek Stevens talks about his new resort on our podcast, so have a listen.

downtown Las Vegas

Fun fact: If some of the accessories look familiar, it’s because they’re from the closed Mermaids casino, right next door.

3. Pizza Rock Menus

Just when we thought Pizza Rock couldn’t get any better, it busts out some awesome new menus. Real album covers with real albums inside double as menus. Glorious.

Pizza Rock

Millennial translation: “Albums” were made of vinyl and people used them to listen to music back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth.

4. Fear the Walking Dead: Survival Attraction

Demolition and construction have begun on a new attraction at Fremont Street Experience. The new walk-through attraction, inspired by “Fear the Walking Dead,” will be a mixture of escape room, maze and interactive motion ride. Here’s a look at the space.

Fear the Walking Dead Survival

Given the zombie theme, think how much money they’d save by just leaving it like this and adding zombies.

The “Fear the Walking Dead: Survival” attraction will be near the base of the SlotZilla zip line tower and is expected to open in July 2017.

downtown Las Vegas

We actually work at Fremont Street Experience as our day job. If you can’t security breach at your own place of employment, where can you security breach?

5. SlotZilla Video Screens

The SlotZilla zip line tower got an upgrade to its video screens. The largest screen is 23 feet wide. Three others simulate the reels of a (wait for it) slot machine.

SlotZilla

Yes, we rode it, and we are not a heights person. Thank you, comedy-hypnotist Marc Savard.

Here’s a look at all the dudes it took to install the largest screen.

SlotZilla zip line

You should probably consider something a little smaller for your man cave.

6. Hennessey’s Pint Glass

The seemingly endless process of rebranding the “World’s Largest Pint Glass” at Hennessey’s Tavern continues. The glass will eventually transform into a mug touting Not Your Grandfather’s Root Beer, including the addition of a massive handle.

Hennessey's pint glass

This is the back of the pint glass. The front side is 85 feet tall. That’s a lot of head.

7. Inspire Bar Windows

A small tweak to the exterior of the street-level bar at Inspire Theater has opened up the space and lets guests experience the sights and sounds and occasional fragrances of Fremont Street.

Inspire lounge

It’s actually “Inspire Bar, Lounge and Theatre.” Yes, with the fancy spelling of “theatre.”

The bar is quite welcoming, and yes, they have Captain Morgan spiced rum, the best thing since the advent of sex on giant Ferris wheels. Allegedly.

Inspire bar

Inspire is at the corner of Fremont Street, Las Vegas Blvd. and Hipster Avenue.

8. Progress at The Vault

At long last, there’s activity at a new bar on Fremont East, The Vault. Previously, the space was home to a clothing store called Coterie. Not sure where things are on Fremont East? We did walking tour.

The Vault Fremont East

The Vault is located between the Griffin and Beauty Bar, which you have also never heard of.

Outside, not a security breach. Inside, security breach.

The Vault Fremont Street

The Vault could be the hottest new spot for gymnasts in Las Vegas, unless we’ve completely misread the meaning of “vault.”

9. Changes at Emergency Arts and Eureka

A mural-covered construction wall has come down at the Emergency Arts Building across the street from El Cortez. There’s a lot of activity inside the building’s bottom floor where a new restaurant, Eureka, is expected to open soon. The space used to be the Beat Coffeehouse. There will be a quiz.

Eureka Las Vegas

Eureka sure is taking its sweet time.

10. Stoned N Baked Closes

A tasty pizza shop inside the Downtown Container Park has closed. The owner says he sold the business, including the equipment and recipes, to the Downtown Project, with promises the shop would open again in some form.

Stoned N Baked

Recreational marijuana will be available for sale in Las Vegas on July 1, 2017. Missed it by that much.

11. ChillSpot Closes, Puffles On the Way

Also at the Container Park, a frozen pop store called ChillSpot (owned by the same folks as Stoned N Baked) has also closed. A new “gelato and waffles” shop, Puffles, will take over the space.

Puffles

Puffles cones use egg waffles which originated in Hong Kong, a city whose king once climbed the Empire State Building.

12. The Dome

In other Downtown Container Park news, The Dome has opened. The dome-shaped theater seats 25 people and offers five different shows (mostly music-driven and family fare) and one interactive shooting game.

The Dome Las Vegas

In “Logan’s Run,” people rose into the air and blew up as part of a ritual called Carrousel. Location: Dome.

13. Petting Zoo

You knew we’d get to the WTF, eventually. This one’s flown under the radar, but it seems there’s a petting zoo coming the the Downtown Project’s Learning Center space.

Friends of the Wild

We spend way too much time poking our nose into places we shouldn’t.

Friends of the Wild will be a “a non-profit educational animal facility,” and appears to be in the fundraising phase. We’ll keep an eye on this one.

Friends of the Wild

Las Vegas Zoo closed. Roos-N-More closed. Let’s get it right this time, please.

14. Bonanza Gift Shop Signs

Bonanza Gift Shop is sort of downtown. Well, the “World’s Largest Gift Shop” has finally gotten around to repairing its signs damaged by high winds in March 2017. And we’re using the word “repairing” very liberally here.

Bonanza Gift Shop

Being the world’s largest gift shop means there’s plenty of space to store all the WTF.

There are always new things going on in downtown Las Vegas. If you spot something new or notable, drop us a line.

Full disclosure: This blog’s day job is in the marketing department at Fremont Street Experience. Our opinions, especially the most idiotic, are entirely our own.

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Tone-Deaf Billboard Promotes New York-New York Thrill Ride With 9/11 Phrase

A tone-deaf billboard touting a Las Vegas thrill ride could have unintended consequences given its chilling 9/11 connection.

The new billboard for the roller coaster at New York-New York uses what was once an innocuous phrase, but which on 9/11 became associated with the worst terror attack in American history.

The phrase, “Let’s roll.”

Let's Roll billboard

That’s some serious WTF right there.

Use of “Let’s roll” in an advertisement wouldn’t be as problematic were it not for the fact 9/11 is so closely associated with New York City, the theme of the New York-New York resort.

Following the events of September 11, 2001, New York-New York was even home to an impromptu memorial, a “spontaneous shrine,” to the victims of the 9/11 attacks. The memorial was outside the hotel, near its replica of the Statue of Liberty.

Items from the memorial were moved to UNLV’s Lied Library in 2016.

“Let’s roll,” of course, became inexorably intertwined with 9/11 when United Flight 93 passenger Todd Beamer said it to rally other passengers as they attempted to wrest control of the hijacked plane back from terrorists. The plan ended tragically, but the phrase became a symbol of defiance, bravery and patriotism.

The use of “Let’s roll” on a billboard associated with New York-New York is unfortunate, and it’s hard to believe no one who created or produced the ad made the connection to 9/11, or if they did, chose to use the tagline, anyway.

For those who still remember 9/11 vividly, or lost loved ones in the attacks, it’s more than a gaff, it’s a slap.

Update (5/5/17): MGM Resorts and New York-New York have taken the extraordinary step of saying they’ll remove the offending billboard (at no small expense, by the way). The company said in response to this story, “We intended no connection between the tragic events of 9/11 and our billboard. Any perceived association between the two is something we deeply regret. We are already voluntarily removing the billboard in question and apologize to anyone who may have been offended.”

Much respect and thanks to MGM Resorts and New York-New York for their quick and decisive response to the concerns raised by this inadvertent misstep.

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Experiment Reveals Average Face of Las Vegas Escorts

A Canadian Web site has collected data and used face-morphing software to reveal the average face of female, male and transgender escorts.

The site used 277 images of Las Vegas escorts and has correlated the morphed images to escort price points. It’s a wacky idea at first glance, but the results are intriguing.

Here’s a look at the average faces of female escorts at various price ranges.

Female Las Vegas escorts

This is definitely not the place where we’re going to suggest the next study compare average escort gazongas, because that would be wrong.

The site takes care to note prostitution is illegal in Las Vegas, but escorts often sell their services as “companionship.” If anything romantic (or physical) happens, it’s the choice of the escort and falls outside laws prohibiting prostitution.

Yeah, we don’t really understand it, either.

Still, the morphed images are telling, and speak to the way our culture values certain beauty standards.

According to the site, “the most expensive female escort seems to have more refined features” and “has lighter skin and looks much younger” than the less expensive escort.

We’re curious who the escorts are who charge $10-99, and by “curious” we mean “please contact this blog immediately, if you get our drift.”

Here’s a look at the average face of the male Las Vegas escort.

Male Las Vegas escorts

Look, there’s no male equivalent for gazongas, so get off our back.

Yes, there are male escorts, which we have to admit we didn’t actually realize was a thing until approximately 10 minutes ago.

The Web site shares, “As the price point for an escort increases, each man’s features become more refined and model-like. It’s also important to note that the men become lighter skinned as services become more expensive.”

On a related note, “Male escorts charging more than $500 an hour seemingly wear nicer clothing as well.”

The site also morphed the faces of transgender female Las Vegas escorts.

Transgender Las Vegas escorts

Stop with your judging, it’s Las Vegas.

About the transgender female escorts, the site claims, “Those who fetch top dollars look professionally made-up, while the less expensive escorts have somewhat plain hairstyles. However, the transgender woman who charges between $250 and $499 an hour has the lightest skin. Interestingly, the most expensive escort has the darkest skin.”

Who knew?

We have zero sense of the scientific validity of the information provided in this experiment, but it’s a fascinating look at a Las Vegas subculture that doesn’t often get the spotlight.

We asked an actual escort, Nikki Irish, her reaction to the study, and she replied, “Who took time out of their life to do that?” We’ve found Nikki tends to not beat around the bush. So to speak.

The site used 95 male, 105 female and 77 female transgender images to create its morphed images. Male transgender escorts weren’t included due to a lack of available images.

See the full project at the Web site in question, and kudos to the site for getting us to link to them. That’s some online marketing gold right there.

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Caesars Entertainment Resorts Roll Out Paid Parking, Vegas Surprisingly Still Awesome

Las Vegas visitors and locals have had some time to adjust to the idea of paid parking, and now things have gotten real. Parking fees for self-parking are now being rolled out on the “other half of The Strip,” specifically, at Caesars Entertainment resorts.

Paid valet parking has been in effect for several months at Caesars Entertainment casinos, and since mid-2016 at MGM Resorts hotels (valet and self-park), but now guests will get dinged for self-parking at Caesars Entertainment destinations in Las Vegas, too.

So far, paid parking has been instituted at Linq Hotel & Casino and Caesars Palace. Next up is Paris and Bally’s (April 6, 2017).

Here’s a look at the newly-installed parking machines at the Linq casino.

Linq paid parking

Maybe John Connor could come back and terminate these.

Unlike at MGM Resorts hotels, self-parking will remain free for Las Vegas locals at Caesars Entertainment resorts (for the first 24 hours).

Parking is also free for visits of 60 minutes or fewer.

You can also park free at Caesars Entertainment resorts if you reach the upper tiers of the casino’s loyalty club, specifically, Platinum, Diamond and Seven Stars.

Linq paid parking fees

Lesson: If you rack up charges over multiple days, lose your ticket. Just saying.

One can also avoid being charged for parking by getting the Total Rewards Visa card. There’s no annual fee, and getting the card bumps you up to Platinum membership, so you can sidestep parking charges. The same tactic works with the M Life Rewards card through MGM Resorts.

Parking fees vary at different Caesars Entertainment resorts, just to keep things interesting.

At Linq, Harrah’s and eventually Flamingo: One to four hours, $5; four to 24 hours, $8; more than 24 hours, $8 per day.

At Caesars Palace, Bally’s/Paris, Cromwell and Planet Hollywood: Up to four hours, $13; four to 24 hours, $18; more than 24 hours, $18 per day.

At the moment, there’s no plan to charge for parking at Caesars Entertainment’s ugly stepchild, Rio Las Vegas.

Harrah's paid parking

For the moment, the paid parking machines at Harrah’s are living by the motto, “No glove, no love.”

From what we could see at the Linq casino, the roll-out of paid parking is going fairly smoothly. The company has installed the promised upgrades to the parking facilities, including availability indicators (rather than green and red, they used green and purple and blue).

Speaking of red lights and green lights, it’s ironic the parking gates at Linq light up red and green. This is the same system we first reported Caesars Entertainment using to monitor comped drinks at its casino bars.

It’s important to note that as you’re exiting the resort, you can pay at the gate on the way out, but those machines take credit or debit cards only. If you only have cash, pay inside the casino.

Caesars Palace paid parking

Caesars Palace visionary Jay Sarno would be spinning in his grave. In celebration. Because who are we kidding? Rich guys get rich by making money.

And, so, paid parking in Las Vegas is pretty much universal. There are a few hold-outs on The Strip, but they’ll eventually have to cave as bargain-hunters make their way to the free lots.

A few of the remaining Strip hotels with free parking include Tropicana, Circus Circus, SLS Las Vegas and Stratosphere. Hooters and Lucky Dragon, just off The Strip, are also free.

While paid parking is a break from tradition in Las Vegas, it’s clearly here to stay, and ultimately a business necessity for casinos as gambling revenue declines. Gambling used to pay for all the freebies in the casino, but now each part of the casino’s business has to be profitable or at least self-sustaining.

Caesars Palace paid parking

Caesars Palace still has a few wrinkles to iron out with its space counter thingys.

Sure, parking fees are irksome, but it’s good to keep things in perspective. Las Vegas remains one of the premier travel destinations in the world, and paid parking is the norm in every major city in the country.

bally's paris paid parking

Update (4/7/17): Paid parking is in effect at Bally’s and Paris. Bonjour, le suck.

So, either budget for parking fees or take advantage of the various ways you can skip paying for parking altogether.

Paid parking doesn’t make Vegas any less Vegas, just as paying for sex doesn’t make it any less sex. Allegedly.

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10 Ways Visiting Las Vegas is Like Getting a Colonoscopy

When you think of visiting Las Vegas, it’s unlikely the first thing that pops into your mind is “Colonoscopy!”

Surprisingly, though, those two experiences have a lot in common. And probably not in the ways you think.

Here, then, is a hastily-slapped-together list of “10 Ways Visiting Las Vegas is Like Getting a Colonoscopy.” In case that wasn’t clear from the title of this blog post. Please try and keep up.

1. Preparation is Essential

When it comes to visiting Las Vegas, planning is critical. Ditto colonoscopies. The preparation
stage isn’t the most fun, but time spent planning is time well spent. Do your research, think
things through and you’ll get the most out of your visit. Or procedure. Whichever.

Miracle Mile colon art

Hey, you try and find photos that combine Las Vegas with colonoscopies.

2. There Will Be Lots of Drinking Involved

Whether you’re hitting Sin City or getting an endoscopic exam of your large bowel and the distal
part of the small bowel, drinking is going to play a key role. In Vegas, you’ll be drinking to
lose your inhibitions. With a colonoscopy, it’ll be a liquid laxative to give your doctor an
unobstructed view of your patootie. Which, we fully realize, is a word which hasn’t been used
since 1971, but let’s not get bogged down with word choice.

3. You’re Bound to Meet Fascinating People

When you visit Las Vegas, be open to meeting intriguing new people, it’s part of the fun. The
same goes for your medical procedure. You’re sure to meet doctors, anesthesiologists, nurses and, in our case, legions of interns observing the colonoscopy. Some of your best memories will be of the people you meet, guaranteed.

4. At Some Point Your Ass Will be Hanging Out, and It’s OK

Whether you’re donning a hospital gown or hitting a Las Vegas dayclub, it’s pretty much inevitable you’re going to be overexposed. This isn’t the time to be shy. Nobody’s judging you. Be confident, be fearless and, please, avoid sitting on anything cold.

Crazy Girls Las Vegas

Two for two.

5. There Will Be Parts You Don’t Remember

While you’re sure to have lots of colorful memories during your Vegas visit, or colonoscopy, there are also going to be portions of your experience you won’t remember at all. Just know a lot of fascinating things happened during those gaps in time, and look forward to seeing the photos, because you know they’re out there.

6. You’ll Probably Have to Deal With Some Crap

Unwanted Fees. Scheduling mishaps. Long check-in lines. These are all part of the deal when it comes to colonoscopies. And visits to Las Vegas. We’re finally starting to hit our stride with this comedic premise, don’t you think? Thanks for your patience.

Caesars Palace Caesar statue

Given the fact there are no fingers involved with a colonoscopy, we’re probably stretching it.

7. There Are Sure to Be Surprises

You simply never know what you’ll encounter during a colonoscopy. It’s possible you’ll discover a polyp. The same goes for Las Vegas. You may encounter a polyp. More than likely he’ll be performing an upside-down straight jacket escape at Luxor.

8. Sometimes You’ll Feel Like You’re Taking It In the Rear

Discomfort can result from both rectal probing and cold streaks in a Las Vegas casino. In either case, the feeling will pass. Keep your cool, take deep breaths and power through.

Roulette

One of those moments.

9. It’ll Be Over Before You Know It

Time flies both when you’re visiting Las Vegas and when you’re having a colonoscopy. When you visit Las Vegas, it feels like you’re just warming up and it’s time to go home. A colonoscopy’s exactly the same, except that the fact it’s over quickly is possibly the best thing in the world. How Einstein never used the comparison between a Las Vegas visit and a colonoscopy to illustrate time is relative, we’ll never know.

Crystals Las Vegas

We’re sorry you’ll never again be able to see the whirlpools at Crystals mall at CityCenter without thinking of colons. Probably.

10. Expect to Do It Again at Regular Intervals

While the motivations may be different, the result is the same. Expect you’ll visit Las Vegas and have a colonoscopy on a regular basis from here on out. (Hopefully, not at the same time.) In both scenarios, you’re taking the measures necessary to live a longer, happier life.

Whether you’re visiting Las Vegas or getting a colonoscopy, thanks for visiting the Vital Vegas blog. Which, for the purposes of this article, we’re sort of wishing was called the Vital Pahrump blog.

We’ll wait.

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