Golden Entertainment to Buy Stratosphere, Three Other Casinos for $850 Million

The Stratosphere is set to be sold, along with three additional casinos, to Golden Entertainment, owners of the PT’s Pub chain.

The deal includes Stratosphere, locals casinos Arizona Charlie’s Decatur and Arizona Charlie’s Boulder, and the Aquarius in Laughlin.

In case you’re unfamiliar with it, Laughlin is very much like Las Vegas, but in sweatpants and without makeup.

The sale of the four casinos will cost $850 million.

Funny Stratosphere chip

Please, Golden Entertainment, make this collectible chip a reality.

When the sale gets did, Golden Entertainment will operate about 15,800 slot machines, 114 table games and more than 5,100 hotel rooms across eight casinos, including the world’s most phallic, Stratosphere Las Vegas.

Stratosphere

Well, hello to you, too.

While Golden Entertainment isn’t the best-known name in Las Vegas, their influence is undeniable given they have about 50 bars and restaurants (known in the business as “taverns”) with a gambling component, many of which we personally frequent for the Caesar salad wraps and Captain Morgan, poured from a bottle. Our favorites include PT’s Gold and Sierra Gold.

Golden Entertainment owns several casinos in Pahrump (Pahrump Nugget, Lakeside, Gold Town), as well as the Rocky Gap gap casino in Maryland.

We’re thinking the Rocky Gap and Stratosphere are going to get along just fine, if you get our drift.

Stratosphere

Value of this view from Stratosphere: Priceless.

The sale of Stratosphere and the other casinos is expected to be a done deal by the end of 2017.

The sale of Stratosphere follows on the heels of news another distressed north Strip casino will be sold, SLS Las Vegas. Casinos in that neighborhood continue to face challenges, with rumors the nearby Lucky Dragon is also struggling to find a foothold.

It’s telling that, in 2008, the Stratosphere alone was sold to Goldman Sachs for $1.3 billion.

Sorry we weren’t able to ferret out this story before everyone else, but we have to sleep sometime.

Share some Vegas. Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someone

Vital Vegas Podcast, Ep. 53: Let’s Talk Vegas Vickie, SLS Restaurant Scoop and the “Dark Side” in Craps

It’s time for the Vital Vegas Podcast, a yard-long slushy for your earholes.

In this installment, we lay down some SLS Las Vegas restaurant scoop you won’t get anywhere else. As predicted, everything about the SLS dining scene is about to change, so best to just roll with it.

Cleo SLS Las Vegas

We’ll soon have to bid farewell to our favorite restaurants at SLS, including Cleo, we wept.

We’ve also got the inside skinny on Vegas Vickie, the vintage neon sign being removed from Glitter Gulch to make way for a new downtown resort.

We also get into the “dark side” in craps, and why you should never bet it unless you like icy stares and unpopularity.

Don't pass craps

Just pass on the “don’t pass.”

As always, we’ve got a perfunctory round-up of Las Vegas news, a listicle of the week and all the mindless rambling you’ve come to expect from the eighth most popular Las Vegas podcast!

Share some Vegas. Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someone

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.

Share some Vegas. Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someone

Details Emerge of Las Vegas Club, Mermaids and Glitter Gulch Demolition, Plus Vegas Vickie’s Fate

There’s a lot going on at the Las Vegas Club site in downtown Las Vegas, and we’ve got all the skinny about the upcoming demolition set to clear the way for a new hotel-casino.

Demolition of a one block site at Fremont Street and Main, informally called “18 Fremont,” will begin on or around July 15, 2017.

All the structures on the block will be taken down to ground level, including the closed Las Vegas Club casino and its two hotel towers, Mermaids casino and Girls of Glitter Gulch strip club.

At one time, it was believed the older of the two Las Vegas Club hotel towers would be imploded, but it’s now been decided no implosion will take place.

Las Vegas Club

If you’re a fan of things being “blowed up real good,” sorry. The Las Vegas Club hotel towers are coming down with a whimper, not a bang.

Demolition in mid-July will begin with a small office structure once used as the management offices of Granite Gaming, owners of Mermaids and Glitter Gulch. Removal of that building, along with a couple of smaller buildings (one a power house, another an “annex”), will make way for some heavy duty demolition equipment to set up shop in the middle of the block.

One of the cranes which will be moved into the site is said to be the largest demolition crane of its kind in the world.

Next, Mermaids and Glitter Gulch will bite the dust.

Mermaids casino

This makes Mermaids prettier than it actually was, trust us.

The owners of the property, Derek and Greg Stevens, along with their team, have devoted an extraordinary amount of time creating an inventory of the signage on all the structures involved in the demolition.

Vegas Vickie, for example, will be removed from the Glitter Gulch facade on June 12, 2017.

It’s estimated the Stevens will invest $11,000 just to remove the iconic sign. There are questions as to whether Vegas Vickie can even be removed intact given her deteriorated condition.

Vegas Vickie

It’s unclear whether Vegas Vickie’s removal will necessitate a divorce from Vegas Vic. They were married in 1994. Not kidding.

Vegas Vickie will ultimately be restored and put on display. Exactly where Vickie will end up hasn’t been decided, but early word is that it will most certainly remain in downtown Las Vegas and is expected to be even more accessible for photo ops.

In the meantime, she’ll be packed up and kept in storage until details of a new location can be sorted out.

It’s estimated the cost of restoring Vegas Vickie could be as much as $100,000. Talk about high maintenance.

There are dozens of other signs in and around Las Vegas Club, Mermaids and Glitter Gulch, including another classic sign, a neon beauty which reads Golden Goose.

Golden Goose casino

Golden Goose opened as the State Cafe. Then it was was Buckley’s Casino, and later the Mecca Casino. Oh, like you’re going to remember all this.

Many of the signs will be salvaged prior to the demolition, and Derek Stevens has said some signs and other fixtures in and on the buildings will be given away in casino promotions. Listen to our recent podcast to hear more.

We’ve learned exclusively the giveaways will begin in August 2017, and players will have a chance to win letters from the various “Las Vegas Club” signs at the site. There are 24 letters up for grabs.

Las Vegas Club sign

Dibs on a “V.” Because Vital Vegas. Please try and keep up.

The demolition will continue around the site, with the Las Vegas Club’s street level casino next on the chopping block.

Then, it’s on to a parking structure on the northeast side of the site.

Finally, the older of the two hotel towers (14 stories) will be taken down, then the newer tower (15 stories) will meet its end. The buildings won’t be taken down floor by floor, but in “columns.”

Here’s a look at the various phases of the demolition project at 18 Fremont.

18 Fremont demolition

Here’s the plan. 1. Granite Gaming office. 2. Mermaids and Glitter Gulch. 3. Las Vegas Club casino. 4. Parking structure. 5. Old tower. 6. New tower.

By the way, the band names on the rooftops are remnants of a video used to promote the Life is Beautiful music festival back in 2015.

That’s Fremont Street Experience in the upper right of the photo, where we work in digital marketing as our day job. The D and Golden Gate, part of the Fremont Street Experience, are owned by the Stevens.

If all goes as planned, demolition at the 18 Fremont site will be completed in November 2017.

In an intriguing twist, it’s been announced slot play will return to Las Vegas Club and Mermaids for eight hours each on June 27-28, 2017.

A quirky (and costly) gaming rule requires that slot play be made available to the public for at least eight hours every two years. Yes, it’s a deeply stupid rule, but hey, this blog loves it some quirky. Check out our visit to another temporary casino, Moulin Rouge.

temporary casino

Yeah, not exactly your typical flashy Las Vegas casino. The worst part: No cocktail service.

One of the stranger aspects of the whole temporary casino nonsense is casino owners don’t keep the money played on the machines. The whole operation is set up by a vendor, United Coin Machine.

So, that should provide some idea of what’s going down at the former Las Vegas Club at 18 Fremont. The official name of the new resort has yet to be announced, but trust us, we’re doing a lot of poking around.

The Las Vegas Club opened in 1930 and had the second neon sign in all of Las Vegas (the first at a casino). The Las Vegas Club closed at midnight on August 19, 2015. Glitter Gulch closed on June 27, 2016. Mermaids closed on June 27, 2016.

There’s lots of new and shiny on the way, but first there’s some serious house cleaning to do.

Expect more photos, drone footage and security breaches in the months to come. Allegedly.

Share some Vegas. Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someone

Paid Parking Kicks In at Cosmopolitan Las Vegas

Cosmopolitan resort has joined the ever-growing list of Las Vegas resorts now charging for parking.

Cosmopolitan paid parking

Cosmopolitan instituting paid parking is like finding out your mistress is cheating on you. It doesn’t feel great, but it’s not all that surprising, either.

Paid parking applies to both valet and self-parking. Get the skinny on the official Cosmopolitan site.

Fees are waived if you park an hour or less, but after that, it’s $7 for one to four hours and $10 for four to 24 hours.

And, yep, even guests of the hotel have to pay for parking, although they get in-and-out privileges when they pay the 24-hour self-parking fee while non-hotel guests do not.

Motorcycles are exempt from parking fees, which would be great were it not for the fact people who ride motorcycles have exceptionally short lifespans. Buzzkill.

Here are the parking rates at-a-glance.

Cosmopolitan paid parking

It’s $30 for a lost ticket? They must be printing these tickets on Faberge eggs.

Some members of the Cosmo’s Identity loyalty club can sidestep the parking fees. Those who achieve Sterling, Gold or Platinum status can park free with their Identity card.

Parking fees can be paid at pay-on-foot kiosks on each level of the parking garage. Some machines accept cash and credit cards (levels B2 and B3), while others take credit cards only (B4 and B5).

Cosmopolitan paid parking

Obey. Talk about perfect parking kiosk placement.

While parking fees are annoying, they are becoming the norm in Las Vegas, just as they are in other cities.

Cosmopolitan is one of the most spectacular casino resorts not just in Las Vegas but the world, so paying for parking stings a bit less.

If saving a few bucks is important, remember Cosmopolitan is across from the street from the Miracle Mile Shops, where parking remains free. Parking is also free at the Shops at Crystals.

Yes, it took paid parking coming to Cosmopolitan for us to say something nice about shopping.

Share some Vegas. Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someone

Slick Video Marquee Unveiled Outside Forum Shops

An impressive new vertical video marquee has been unveiled outside the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace.

We wouldn’t typically share such news, except for the fact it’s a stunner.

Forum Shops marquee

If you’re looking for a free “show” on The Strip, you might try this new eye candy at the Forum Shops.

While we can’t be sure of the technical specs of the new marquee, we can share some video. We think you’ll agree the graphics are eye-popping.

The new, 80-foot-tall video marquee has a healthy selection of animated segments, and surprisingly few are marketing messages.

The sequences feature creative uses of the Ultra High-Definition (4K) screen with custom 3-D effects.

The company behind the screen is called Acquire Digital. Check out their blog post about this and other screens at Forum Shops.

Come to find out, one of the reasons the video is so distinctive is it was created by Moment Factory, a major player in multi-media and video entertainment. Moment Factory did the video elements for Celine’s production at Caesars, as well as two of the light shows at Fremont Street Experience (Imagine Dragons and Tiesto). Take a look.

You can find the new marquee near the replica of the Trevi fountain at the Forum Shops, between Caesars Palace and Mirage.

Why, here’s the Trevi fountain now.

Trevi fountain Las Vegas

Fun fact: Trevi restaurant inside the Forum Shops is nowhere near the Trevi fountain.

We love shiny new things, and the video display outside the Forum Shops certainly qualifies.

Share some Vegas. Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someone