Many Las Vegas casino companies are increasingly concerned with rising COVID-19 cases, including among their employees.
We’ve also heard front line staffers at Caesars Palace have relayed to guests the resort will temporarily close following the long weekend. [Update (7/13/20): Caesars Palace did not close.]
These rumors are unconfirmed, but it’s unlikely any casino would telegraph such moves heading into what’s expected to be a busy July 4 weekend.
Every casino we’ve visited has upped its enforcement of mandatory mask and social distancing rules, mainly due to the threat of another mandated closure by Nevada Steve Sisolak.
That said, the Governor’s office released a statement that just half of businesses are complying with face covering requirements.
Casinos are doing their part, but bars and restaurants not so much.
Just 50 percent of bars and restaurants visited were found to be in compliance. The number was 61 percent at auto sales, gyms, hair and nail establishments.
Here’s page two of the Governor’s statement. The ominous part.
Trust us, nobody wants to be on the receiving end of “swift and decisive action” right now.
The strategy of voluntary, time-specific closures for casinos makes sense, despite it being painful to think about some of our favorite places on Earth closing their doors again, even if only for a week or two.
It’s unknown how many casinos may voluntarily close, but at the moment, it doesn’t appear there’s a threat of another full, mandated closure as happened from March 17 to June 4, 2020.
Voluntary closures mean casinos take their fate into their own hands, and at least they’ll have hard dates for reopening again. The uncertainty of rolling reopening dates the last time around was a logistical nightmare.
This saga is far from over, and as always, we’ll let you know what we hear.
Update (7/4/20): Venetian Tweeted the rumored shutdowns are false.
According to our well-placed sources, it seems Las Vegas is now set to be the first home of an Atari Hotel.
Back in January 2020, plans were announced for eight Atari Hotels across the U.S., with the first slated for Phoenix. You know, the one in Arizona. Please try and keep up.
Now, we hear Las Vegas will leapfrog over Phoenix to get the first Atari Hotel. As it should be. Because Las Vegas.
We just leveled up in our pants.
Additional, less relevant, Atari Hotels are scheduled for Denver, Chicago, Austin, Seattle, San Francisco and San Jose.
When the chain of hotels was originally announced, it didn’t get a lot of buzz because there were relatively few details about financing and location. That’s still the case.
What we do know is Atari has partnered with GSD Group, touted as “a leading innovation and strategy agency, led by founder Shelly Murphy and partner Napoleon Smith III.”
Smith was a producer of the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” reboot, so he may have his finger on the demographic drawn to a video game-themed hotel.
Fun fact: Atari was named after a word used in a game called Go, popular in Japan.
Smith said in a news release, “When creating this brand new hotel concept, we knew Atari would be the perfect way to give guests the ‘nostalgic and retro meets modern’ look and feel we were going for. Let’s face it, how cool will it be to stay inside an Atari?”
He’s not wrong. Imagine grabbing a bite in the Space Invaders Cafe, dancing the night away at Pong Nightclub, catching some rays at the Q*bert Dayclub, shopping at Pac-Man Promenade or getting a facial at Frogger Baths & Spa.
Timing and execution, of course, are everything.
In contention for understatement of the year: It’s a very weird time to be developing a Las Vegas hotel right now.
Atari is a well-known and beloved brand, so it could have an edge others wouldn’t.
Still, while gaming (eSports gaming, not gambling gaming) is wildly popular, it’s unclear if that would translate into hotel business.
Example: The 2019 revenue from the snack bar at Luxor’s eSports arena was approximately what a typical gambler places on red in any given roulette spin.
That said, we like new and shiny things in Las Vegas, and an Atari Hotel would certainly qualify.
Also, a retro brand could draw older guests with more disposable income. That mixture of middle-aged Asteroids fans and their “Call of Duty” offspring could end up being a magical and profitable combination for Atari.
We actually took 15 seconds to try and confirm our rumor Las Vegas is now the location for the first Atari Hotel, but we haven’t heard back.
While we won’t bet money on this project coming to fruition, we’re now actively rooting for it given Las Vegas could be the first Atari Hotel outpost.
An iconic Las Vegas hotel, Luxor, could be facing demolition if industry chatter is to be believed.
While no official announcement has been made, a decision to bring down Luxor during a period of weak demand due to the COVID-19 crisis could make sense for the resort’s owner, MGM Resorts.
The company has long felt its hands are tied by the distinctive, but limiting, Egyptian theme.
We’re inclined to think this rumor has legs.
De-theming casinos in Las Vegas has happened fairly frequently in recent years, as the perception of themes has evolved from cool to kitschy (or downright tacky) over time.
Many changes have already been made at Luxor to move away from its original theme, but it’s virtually impossible to re-imagine a massive pyramid.
The same dilemma is faced by Excalibur. Good luck tweaking a castle.
Our sources say company officials have discussed demolition of both Luxor and Excalibur for at least five years, but have been unable to proceed due to union contracts. It’s possible the COVID-19 shutdown has paved the way for what’s to come for Luxor.
Other hotels that have de-themed include Monte Carlo (now Park MGM), Treasure Island (now TI), Imperial Palace (now Linq) and MGM Grand (its “Wizard of Oz” roots are tough to spot now).
Luxor opened on October 15, 1993, 26 years ago, when Las Vegas was much more focused on attracting families.
Those who think Luxor’s time has come may have a point.
With age comes any number of challenges, and for years there have been rumors Luxor has had structural problems. Read more.
Were Luxor to be demolished, Las Vegas would lose not only one of its most distinctive hotels, but also its renowned Luxor Sky Beam, one of the strongest beams of light in the world.
It’s worth noting the beam has been dimmed in recent years to cut costs.
While Luxor may be a sentimental favorite of Las Vegas visitors, it’s probably time to call it a day, especially if it means a shiny new casino resort could take its place. Sentiment doesn’t pay the bills.
Luxor always seems happy to see us, if you get our drift.
In the meantime, it’s probably a good time to visit Luxor again. The casino reopened on June 25, 2020, after being shut down for three months.
If we hear any more Luxor demolition rumors, you’ll hear them here first.
There’s been a flurry of great news around Circa Las Vegas, so let’s dive in! We’ve got exclusive video, the most in-depth interview ever given by the casino’s owner, Derek Stevens, and more.
Not to make it about us, of course.
First up, Circa has announced its opening dates. Yep, there will be two dates.
The first five floors of Circa Las Vegas open Oct. 28, 2020, months ahead of schedule. The hotel opens Dec. 28, 2020.
Circa Las Vegas has officially been topped off.
On Oct. 28, the resort’s casino will open, as will its sports book (touted as the biggest in the world), a number of bars and the massive pool complex.
Four restaurants will open on Oct. 28, but 8 East won’t because, as Derek Stevens says, “There will be a crane going through the center of the restaurant.” Learn more about the restaurants at Circa.
As mentioned, Circa’s hotel opens Dec. 28. Reservations will be taken starting June 24, 2020.
Derek Stevens believes this is the first time in Vegas history a resort has been given an exemption so a casino can open separately from a hotel. Current regulations require a casino resort must have 200 rooms to open.
We sat down for an exclusive chat with Derek Stevens to get all the inside scoop about Circa, and there’s a lot.
Derek Stevens likes casinos so much, he made one from scratch.
Kick back and enjoy all the spilled tea, or whatever the kids are calling it now.
Are you not entertained?
Next up in our cavalcade of Circa news: The resort has announced it will be for adults only.
That’s right, Circa will be for ages 21 and older.
No Kids Quest. No strollers. No kids in the pool. No kids at all, 24/7. Ever.
This is seriously the best news in the history of Las Vegas.
Speaking of history, it’s believed this is the first time a Las Vegas casino resort has been restricted to 21-plus, ever.
Circa rolled out a bunch of new renderings. Check the photo gallery for more. Sup, Vegas Vickie?
As if all this great news weren’t enough to fill your gullet, there’s more.
On June 19, 2020, Circa Las Vegas had a topping off ceremony. During the ceremony, the last beam ever placed at Circa was hoisted into place.
Circa owner Derek Stevens was so happy to see this lifted into place. In fact, he was beaming.
We had the awesome privilege of being able to strap a GoPro to the beam, so we captured this momentous occasion for posterity.
If you watched until the end, you may have noticed the steel worker putting the final beam into place.
Check out the dude’s tattoo! You’ll try to think of something more Vegas than a guy with a Las Vegas sign tattoo securing the final beam on the newest Las Vegas casino, but you will fail.
Even our haters are, like, “This puts the ‘vital’ in Vital Vegas.”
Prior to the beam being lifted, Derek Stevens and his executive team signed it, along with a number of the construction workers.
Since we’re doing things for posterity, we need to mention what Derek Stevens wrote on the beam. It wasn’t publicized, but we know people.
Stevens wrote the names and initials of his wife Nicole, his parents and brother, Greg Stevens (co-owner of The D and Golden Gate), his three children (Whitney, Sammy and Sera) and the initials of the company’s first employee in Vegas, Wayne Peters.
No pressure, Derek.
There are so many stories to be told about Circa.
There’s the story about the ventilation system being used for the first time in any Las Vegas casino: The air flow will be floor to ceiling, a true game-changer.
There’s the story about how COVID-19 actually helped speed up construction because the project didn’t have to be as concerned with noise affecting neighboring hotels (they were closed).
There’s the story about how at one point, elevators at the Circa construction site went from being able to carry 20 people to only being able to carry two per trip.
There’s the story about how important it was to finish and open Circa in 2020 (hint: tax incentives).
There’s the story about why Circa will have a massive video screen facing away from The Strip, rather than toward it. (It’s all about eyeballs on the freeway.)
This video screen will be seen by one trillion people. Note: We were drinking, so we may have rounded up.
Circa is the first new casino resort in downtown Las Vegas in 40 years, and we look forward to sharing more stories from Circa Las Vegas.