Category Archives: Las Vegas WTF

Casino Mogul Steve Wynn Slammed With Sexual Misconduct Allegations

It’s the story that’s rocked Las Vegas to its core. Dozens of women have accused visionary casino mogul Steve Wynn of sexual misconduct.

An explosive story in the Wall Street Journal has confirmed what Las Vegas insiders have known for decades, and now the fortunes of Steve Wynn and Wynn Resorts are uncertain.

According to the Wall Street Journal, 150 people were contacted and dozens have come forward to share experiences ranging from awkward to outrageous to downright shocking involving Steve Wynn. The article sheds light on an alleged pattern of predatory interactions with women, many of whom were Wynn’s subordinates.

Or as Las Vegas keno runners refer to it: Tuesday.

Steve Wynn

His day of reckoning has arrived, and Steve Wynn is in for a bumpy ride.

The Wall Street Journal story also answers a question many Vegas observers have wondered about: How much did Steve Wynn pay to settle an allegation by a manicurist who claimed he coerced into having sex? The answer: $7.5 million.

Steve Wynn has dismissed the allegations of sexual impropriety, deeming the dozens and dozens of stories by dozens and dozens of women as “preposterous.”

preposterous

As if you needed further proof we are not an actual journalist.

We can’t really do justice when it comes to the quantity or creepiness of the allegations, so check them out if you haven’t already.

The Wall Street Journal revelations came as a surprise to precisely zero people familiar with Steve Wynn and the untold number of executives and members of the media who turned a blind eye to his behavior through the years.

The Wall Street Journal story, which has received international media coverage, has had some immediate fallout.

On the day the story was released, Wynn Resorts lost 10% of its market value, which translates into a mind-boggling $2 billion. In a day.

Steve Wynn has also resigned as the finance chairman of the Republican National Committee.

There have been calls for Wynn to be investigated or removed as Chairman and CEO of Wynn Resorts.

The Wynn Resorts board of directors has also formed a committee to investigate the allegations of sexual misconduct. Thirteen years after the $7.5 million settlement.

It’s been reported the Massachusetts Gaming Commission has opened a probe into Wynn Resorts.

Wynn Las Vegas

Maybe they should’ve done this on a dry erase board.

So, what does all this mean for Steve Wynn, Wynn Resorts and Las Vegas?

Well, it most certainly means Steve Wynn’s impressive legacy has been tarnished for good. No matter what successes he’s had, there will always be an asterisk next to his name. Think Woody Allen, but with a better art collection.

It’s difficult to see a scenario where Steve Wynn doesn’t have to step down from running Wynn Resorts. The evidence of bad, and possibly illegal, behavior is overwhelming.

Wynn Resorts is in for some tough times. Steve Wynn is personally intertwined with the company. He is, in essence, the brand. His leadership and vision and sensibility have built the company into both the world’s most-admired casino company and the most profitable on The Strip.

While some investors in Wynn Resorts stock may see the dramatic drop in value as an opportunity to buy, we’re pretty sure this is just the beginning of the pain. We’ve seen previously unreported allegations by Wynn’s former wife, Elaine Wynn, and while the upcoming controversy is likely to be less sexy than the current firestorm, it’s going to be another huge blow to investors and Wynn’s company.

Wynn Las Vegas atrium

Whatever his transgressions, there’s no denying Steve Wynn has brought many beautiful things to Las Vegas.

As the days go by, it seems likely Steve Wynn’s new reality is going to sink in. At the moment, he’s fully committed to the victim narrative (Wynn is blaming his ex-wife for the accusations—talk about preposterous), but that will change as pressure mounts.

The sex scandal playbook requires that, at some point, Steve Wynn publicly apologize and “take full responsibility” for his actions.

Odds are he’ll step down, making it clear he’s only doing it to avoid hardships for the stockholders and his beloved employees, followed by some well-crafted blah, blah, blah.

There’s a chance Wynn’s gaming license could be revoked. (A license holder must someone of “good character, honesty and integrity,” among other things.)

We’d also place a small wager on Wynn saying he’s entering into treatment for a “sex addiction.” It’s not like the wheel’s being re-invented here.

Oh, and there has to be a class action lawsuit in the offing. Wynn’s pockets are just too deep (his estimated worth is $3.5 billion) for the bottom-feeders to resist.

We also suspect revelations about the misbehavior of high-placed casino executives has just begun. As with Harvey Weinstein, the floodgates have been opened, and it seems inevitable other women will now find the courage to speak out about a culture of exploitation that’s been pervasive in Las Vegas since the day it was conceived.

All bets are off on the hush money paid to victims through the years in Las Vegas, and it’s about time these serial perpetrators receive their comeuppance. (Rumor has it a number of casino executives fled town after the Wall Street Journal story broke, to “reconnect with family” and, presumably, pray.)

Who are the executives likely to be caught up in the Las Vegas edition of the #MeToo movement? Ask any dealer, bartender or cocktail waitress. They all know the names.

Le Reve Wynn Las Vegas

We’ve given up hope this is all just a bad “rêve.”

The good news is, of course, the day of reckoning for Steve Wynn is a rallying cry for women who have endured unwanted sexual advances and abhorrent behavior in casinos and elsewhere. They no longer have to feel intimidated or powerless. If Steve Wynn, the self-proclaimed “most powerful man in Nevada,” can be held accountable for his sexual misdeeds, anyone can.

That said, this blog counts itself among those who are rattled and dismayed by the Steve Wynn revelations because Steve Wynn, in large part, made Las Vegas what it is, and we really, really love Las Vegas.

We love that Wynn Resorts has planned so many new, beautiful things for us to enjoy, and we’d hate to see those plans derailed because Steve Wynn can’t keep his towel on or grasp that “no” means “no.”

We suspect some of the announced Wynn Resorts projects will be delayed, while others are likely to be halted, as this trainwreck works itself out.

Wynn letter

Update (1/28/18): The precise moment you realize you’ve sold your soul. Thanks to Rebecca Ballhaus at the Wall Street Journal for the photo.

The Steve Wynn sexual misbehavior scandal has set in motion forces that will change Las Vegas forever, and ultimately for the better. As long as you’re not Steve Wynn.

How to Tell It’s Winter in Las Vegas

When temperatures hit bone-chilling winter lows in Las Vegas, it’s easy to tell.

Here’s a photo taken during our blizzard conditions expected to continue through mid-January .

Winter showgirl

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

The cold snap has seen temps dip below 70-degrees in some parts of Las Vegas, but it feels even colder if you figure in the wind chill factor.

Stratosphere Executives Claim “We Were Robbed!”

High-ranking executives of Stratosphere Las Vegas have shocked industry insiders by demanding a recount in the recent “Best of Las Vegas” awards.

The Stratosphere executives have raised questions about “suspicious results” and have even gone so far as to suggest the awards are “rigged,” presumably preventing the hotel-casino from receiving innumerable awards it rightfully should have won.

The annual “Best of Las Vegas Awards” are hosted by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, and are based upon voting by the public. And possibly employees, bigtime.

Stratosphere

Apparently, Stratosphere takes its “Best of Las Vegas Awards” very seriously.

A Stratosphere spokesperson stated, “We’re obviously grateful to have been named ‘Best Strip Hotel,’ beating out wannabes Wynn Las Vegas, Cosmopolitan and Aria. But our meager 29 additional awards are a disappointment to our company, our executives, team members and guests, and we’re looking to the Las Vegas Review-Journal to rectify this travesty.”

Among Stratosphere’s unprecedented 30 “Best of Las Vegas Awards” were “Best Romantic Spot,” “Best Wedding Chapel,” “Best Shrimp Cocktail,” “Best Burger” and dozens of other accolades.

Stratosphere

This view from the Stratosphere is undeniably worthy of an award.

While the Stratosphere’s awards were expansive, one executive was quick to note “glaring omissions and oversights.”

“While many awards are subjective,” the executive said, “Stratosphere should clearly have won ‘Best Pet Groomer,’ ‘Best Tax Professional,’ ‘Best Waxing,’ ‘Best Senior Community’ and ‘Best Breast Augmentation.’ That’s just common sense.”

The exec continued, “And this doesn’t even begin to address the issue of award categories that should exist but, suspiciously, don’t. Where’s ‘Best Casino That’s Also a Phallic Symbol’ or ‘Best Hotel in a Crack House Neighborhood’?”

Best of Las Vegas legit

You can never have too many awards. Hey, just check our sidebar.

We inquired about the Stratosphere’s controversial allegations with the Review-Journal, but no official response was forthcoming.

An anonymous source at the Las Vegas Review-Journal did confide, “Our track record of integrity is impeccable and beyond reproach. So, slide me $50 and you’ll be ‘Best Las Vegas Blog’ in 2018. Done deal.”

Here’s a full list of all 30 “Best of Las Vegas Awards” won by Stratosphere Las Vegas, and congratulations to them for the three awards they actually deserved.*

  • Best Fine Dining (Top of the World Restaurant)
  • Best View (Top of the World Restaurant)*
  • Best Power Lunch (Top of the World Restaurant)
  • Best Romantic Spot (Top of the World Restaurant)
  • Best Date Night Spot (Top of the World Restaurant)
  • Best Attraction (Stratosphere Tower Experience)
  • Best Cocktail Bar (107 SkyLounge)
  • Best Happy Hour (107 SkyLounge)*
  • Best Martini (107 SkyLounge)
  • Best Specialty Cocktails (107 SkyLounge)
  • Best Late Night Eats (107 SkyLounge)
  • Best Hotel View
  • Best Strip Hotel
  • Best Staycation
  • Best Sports Book
  • Best Strip Slots
  • Best Strip Table Games
  • Best Valet
  • Best Shrimp Cocktail
  • Best Extreme Adventure (SkyJump)*
  • Best Amusement Ride
  • Best Player’s/Loyalty Club
  • Best Breakfast (Roxy’s Diner)
  • Best Burger (Roxy’s Diner)
  • Best Coffee Shop & Diner (Roxy’s Diner)
  • Best Wedding Chapel (Chapel in the Clouds)
  • Best Paying Slots (Silver Winner)
  • Best Steakhouse (Silver Winner)
  • Best Casual Restaurant (Silver Winner, McCall’s Heartland Grill)
  • Best Video Poker (Bronze Winner)

Caesars Palace Reveals Addition to Iconic Fountains and Everything is Ruined

It’s either a creative way for a casino company to generate revenue from “unproductive” space or a swift kick to the groin with a steel-toed boot: Caesars Palace has unveiled a new addition to its iconic fountains and our Las Vegas WTF meter is about to have a meltdown.

First, let’s take a look at what was arguably one of the most spectacular photo ops in all of Las Vegas.

Caesars Palace fountains

Soak it in. Stunning, right? You might even say jaw-dropping. Now, take a deep breath.

The image above is one of the things that pops into our mind when people say “Las Vegas.” The other is boobs, but that’s probably just us.

On Sep. 28, 2017, Caesars Palace debuted a Samsung Galaxy Studio sitting atop its fountains. The fountains, we should mention, an estimated 20 million people a year stroll by along Las Vegas Boulevard.

Here’s a look at the Samsung Galaxy Studio that will reside on the Caesars fountains through the end of January 2018.

Caesars Palace fountains

We wish this has been done with Photoshop, but sadly “ani.” That’s “no” in Korean. Samsung is a South Korean company. Please try and keep up.

The Samsung Galaxy Studio is a place for guests to get “hands-on experience exploring the latest Galaxy products.” The pop-up shop has a virtual reality theater, offers customer care for existing customers, boasts interactive art installations and has a retail component.

This location is, honestly, possibly the best location in the world if you’re Samsung.

But here’s the thing.

Just because Samsung offered Caesars a metric hell-ton of money to have a store on their fountains doesn’t mean the offer had to be accepted.

Maybe we’re naive or overly romantic, but it feels like the Caesars bean counters have flagrantly shat upon the entire history of one of Sin City’s most venerable megaresorts? And how mad must we be to use the word “shat” for only the second time in the history of this blog?

What dollar amount has been assigned to an epic Las Vegas photo op that’s been taken and shared by millions of people around the world?

And, trust us, just because this particular use of the space is temporary, there’s no way this is a one-off.

Granted, we are a blog. We don’t have to pay salaries or answer to shareholders. Caesars Entertainment, owner of Caesars Palace, is slowly, finally emerging from bankruptcy. It’s a business. We get all that.

We also don’t have to like it.

Caesars

Why do you insist upon making us weep, Gaius? That’s really his first name, so spare us the hate mail.

It was all fun and games when an April Fools’ joke about Bellagio’s fountains being converted into retail space from our friends at Vegas Bright went viral. It was so believable, many reported the story as fact, and we even went on TV to talk about it.

The recent monetization (which we’re still not convinced is a real word) of “idle space” at Caesars is an illustration of how such stories can gain momentum. Because when things like this happens, in the words of Billy Crystal, “It’s not fun, it’s not funny.” If you think MGM Resorts hasn’t pondered a scenario similar to the one at Caesars Palace for its own fountains, we have a half-scale Eiffel Tower to sell you.

Update (9/30/17): Our friends at KTNV did a follow-up to our story, and included our thoughts, so it’s well worth a look, because you can never get too much us.

In the story, Caesars Entertainment says, “The Samsung Studio is a temporary structure where guests can experience the newest in Samsung products and an interactive virtual reality experience. With only five locations in the U.S., Samsung has selected Las Vegas for this surprise and delight attraction and Caesars Palace is excited about bringing this experience to its center Strip location. Additionally we are receiving positive feedback from our guests and passerbys.”

First, it’s “passersby.”

Second, claiming there’s been positive feedback from guests and passersby about a Samsung pop-up store is easily one of the most absurd things we’ve ever heard, and we’ve heard a lot of absurd things, trust us.

We’d love to hear your thoughts, even if you think we should get over it, so share a comment.

Fremont Street Gains White Castle Restaurant, Loses Classic Trader Bill’s Sign

There’s been a lot of great buzz about a new White Castle coming to Fremont Street. We should know, we started it.

Recent developments at the site of the new White Castle, however, have been more buzzkill than buzz.

They involve a classic sign for Trader Bill’s.

Trader Bill's sign

Spoiler alert: Now would be a great time to start not getting emotionally attached to things.

For comparison purposes, here’s a look at the Trader Bill’s sign during the day, in other words, without its make-up.

Trader Bill's sign

That’s not old and faded. That’s character.

The first sign, ahem, of trouble came when we noticed the arrow on the Trader Bill’s sign being painted blue. All of the sign’s bulbs and neon were removed. (From what we can tell, the bulbs will be back.)

Trader Bill's

The journey of a thousand WTFs begins with one coat of paint.

The next day, workers began covering up the gloriously distressed sign.

Trader Bill's sign

The Trader Bill’s sign, redacted.

Within just a few days, the Trader Bill’s sign transformed into a White Castle sign, and everything was ruined.

White Castle Fremont sign

White Castle has but one location in Las Vegas, at Casino Royale. When it opened, the restaurant had to temporarily shut down due to overwhelming demand.

The conversion of the Trader Bill’s sign to a White Castle sign probably wouldn’t have been as jarring were it not for where the sign sits. For many who frequent downtown, the sign’s location is what amounts to the “entrance” to the Fremont Street Experience (where we work in digital marketing as our day job).

Once lit up, the White Castle sign is likely to be an eye-catching focal point for anyone looking down, or taking photos of, Fremont Street and what’s billed as the world’s largest video screen.

That’s great news for White Castle, but we’re not convinced it’s great news for our street. Yes, it’s ours, but we let millions of people borrow it each year.

For many, White Castle will now be the first impression visitors get of what the street is all about. Not the circus-like atmosphere of the Fremont district. Not the casinos and their neon facades. Not the history of “Glitter Gulch.”

Rather, a fast food restaurant.

White Castle Fremont Street

We’re going to need a lot of sliders to get us through this period of adjustment. It’s expected Fremont’s White Castle will open at the end of August or in early September.

This latest loss of a distinctive downtown sign follows on the heels of the removal of Vegas Vickie on the other end of Fremont Street. She’ll soon be followed by demolition of the Golden Goose, the Glitter Gulch sign and the baseball player statue atop the former Las Vegas Club.

On the bright side, Vegas Vickie is likely to return. That’s not in the cards for the Trader Bill’s sign.

In searching for some background about Trader Bill’s (it began operating at the corner of Fremont and 4th Street in the early 1930s), we came across an intriguing quote from an article written in 1997.

At the time, Trader Bill’s was transitioning from being a souvenir store to a jewelry store, and the then President of Fremont Street Experience, Mark Paris, is quoted as saying, “The thing that’s important to us is the streetscape—how it looks—and the owners of Trader Bill’s have maintained the neon and lights that we feel are in keeping with the spirit of Fremont Street.”

While a White Castle restaurant fits the “spirit” of Fremont Street perfectly, we can’t say the same for the White Castle sign.

We’ve said often in this blog that the only constant in Las Vegas is change. That doesn’t mean we have to like it.