Category Archives: Security Breaches

Construction Begins on 18 Fremont Resort (Las Vegas Club), World Almost Misses It

There were no fireworks, no gold-plated shovels, no mayoral Proclamations. There were none of the trappings of a Las Vegas resort groundbreaking, but it was, indeed, just that.

That tingling sensation you feel isn’t numbness resulting from sitting at a slot machine too long, it’s the excitement of knowing a long-awaited Las Vegas resort is finally in the works on Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas. We’ve got all the exclusive scoop! Because having an “exclusive” is nearly as good as “having a life,” and that’s the story we’re sticking to.

Construction, or more accurately “deconstruction,” has quietly begun on a new hotel-casino from Derek and Greg Stevens, owners of Golden Gate and The D Las Vegas.

18 Fremont resort

“What construction?” you ask. We’re trying to build some suspense here, just play along for once.

Owner Derek Stevens has said he’s attended more than 50 design meetings for the new downtown resort. While it doesn’t have a name yet, its placeholder name is “18 Fremont.”

A modest demolition project, not easily seen by pedestrians on Fremont Street, marks the beginning of a major (and expensive) construction project which will make the new resort a reality.

The demolition is happening behind two closed shops, Blowout and Forever Flawless. Demolition crews are making quick work of the structure.

18 Fremont resort construction

Boom. Work on the next Las Vegas casino resort begins, sans hoopla, which would make a good band name.

Blowout and the Forever Flawless store (covering a tiny 0.08 acres) cost the Stevens brothers  a steep $13.5 million. Millionaires be crazy, as the kids say, but there was a method behind the madness.

The shops were a critical element of a series of acquisitions allowing for 18 Fremont to encompass a full block, spanning a stretch of Fremont between Binion’s and the Plaza casino.

18 Fremont casino

This is how the lot looked midday. Keep reading to see how it looked a couple of hours later. Suspenseful, right?

Mermaids and the Glitter Gulch strip club were also purchased by the Stevens brothers, along with La Bayou, currently site of an expansion of the Golden Gate casino.

The Stevens also acquired a parcel across the street from the Las Vegas Club, between Plaza and Main Street Station, for $7.5 million.

Yes, there will be a quiz.

18 Fremont construction

A couple of hours later and virtually nothing of the shops remains. They’re going to need a really big vacuum cleaner.

Why is the demolition of the Blowout and Forever Flawless shops so important to the 18 Fremont project? We won’t ruin the surprise. (Suspense!) All we can say is there’s equipment in motion at 18 Fremont and that’s enough to get us excited about what’s to come.

Derek Stevens and others involved in the project have been tight-lipped about specifics of the new resort, but Stevens has at various times hinted it’s likely to take downtown’s pool scene to a whole new level. On an episode of our podcast, Stevens described downtown Las Vegas as “underpooled.”

The casino will be the centerpiece of the resort, of course, but multiple restaurant and bar offerings will also be in the mix. Stevens has also said it’s likely the resort will have a spa, but relatively few specifics about the resort have been shared to-date. Hey, we’re working on it.

18 Fremont construction Las Vegas Club

Look closely. The shops are now see-through.

One of the existing Las Vegas Club hotel towers will be demolished and the other is likely to have more floors and rooms added. There’s a 99% chance the older tower will be taken down without an implosion due to the proximity to other structures and casinos. Sorry, no hoopla.

See below, in case that wasn’t the direction you were already going in.

las_vegas_club_towers_demolition

After watching failed casino projects like Alon, and seemingly stalled projects like Resorts World, it’s refreshing to see a Las Vegas casino project moving forward full steam ahead. Millennial translation: Nobody’s come up with a better way of saying “full steam ahead” since the steam engine, sorry.

18 Fremont demolition

Here’s a peek inside what was the Blowout gift shop. Their inventory now consists largely of debris.

This new resort represents not only hundreds of millions of dollars of investment, but also an entirely new place for us to drink Captain Morgan and diets and play Top Dollar. Just keeping it real.

Las Vegas Club demolition

The forever forgettable Forever Flawless. Anything that decreases the number of annoying salespeople chasing us down Fremont Street Experience (where we work in marketing as our day job) hawking face cream is fine by us.

Here’s a little help with where this demolition site is in relation to things you might recognize, specifically a strip club and some classic neon, including Vegas Vickie.

Las Vegas Club demolition

The good news is we can all start using “Glitter Gulch” again without feeling the urge to get a “Silkwood” shower.

Update (2/23/17): Things move fast in Vegas, and what a difference 24 hours can make. Here’s a photo to keep you abreast, and not just because we love using the word “abreast” as often as possible.

18 fremont construction

Did we mention these demolition guys don’t mess around?

It’s a pretty straight shot to Fremont Street now.

18 Fremont construction

Demolition guys must have really organized closets.

Demolition of the Blowout and Forever Flawless shops is expected to take just a few days (Feb. 24, 2017 is the expected completion date), but there’s much more in the works, so anticipate a cavalcade of security breaches in the months to come.

Update (2/26/17): Like we said, blink and you’ll miss it. We’re pretty sure we said that. Anyway, here’s another look at the site. Cleans up real nice.

18 Fremont construction

A good many great things begin in tiny spaces. Which sounds a lot dirtier than it is.

Yes, yes, there’s video. Demanding, much?

We trust this won’t be our last update about the 18 Fremont construction project, so visit this Las Vegas blog often. Hourly, if possible. No pressure.

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Major Overhaul of Palace Station Casino Commences

There are big things in the works for the off-Strip Palace Station, and some of those plans are well under way.

We popped in at Palace Station, but won’t be able to share any photos because, according to a security guard, “Photos of the construction site aren’t allowed.”

Palace Station construction

Suck it, asshats. All due respect.

Seriously? The site is readily viewable by the public, 24/7.

Well, we’re nothing if not respectful of authority, so we’re not going to share more than a dozen or so photos of the site.

Palace Station construction

Looks like somebody’s getting a fancy new video screen.

Oh, and here’s some video of the construction, mainly because our contempt for overreaching casino security guards is exceeded only by our aversion to casinos that swap out our liquor brand.

Palace Station, owned by Red Rock Resorts (also known as Station Casinos), is currently adding a new porte cochere and bingo hall to its casino, and they’re just getting started.

Improvements will include a new, 27-floor hotel tower, a movie theater, bowling alley and upgraded pool area. It’s believed the hotel’s railroad theme will go away in favor of a more modern design. (Think Red Rock Resort, which is a good thing.)

Palace Station trains

Time to bid farewell to the choo-choos.

In a future phase of the transformation, Palace Station is expected to also add a new buffet and two additional restaurants, as well as additional convention space.

Yes, convention space is incredibly boring, but it’s also lucrative, so expect to see more. Aria even closed a Cirque du Soleil show, “Zarkana,” to make more room for conventioneers, and Riviera was demolished to expand the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Thanks to our friends at Eater Vegas for ferreting out all the details of the changes at Palace Station.

Palace Station construction

Why all the additional space for bingo, you ask? Station Casinos has a long history with bingo, and Palace Station originally opened as Bingo Palace in 1976.

Misguided security guards aside, Palace Station remains a great place to play. Despite being five minutes from the Las Vegas Strip, it tends to appeal to locals, which means better table minimums, better odds and better overall value.

Enjoy a few more photos of the construction happening at Palace Station, which we definitely didn’t take after being informed photography isn’t permitted, because that would be wrong.

Palace Station Renovations Begin

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10 Tips for Taking Photos Inside Any Las Vegas Casino

Las Vegas casinos have a reputation for having strict policies prohibiting photography. Those policies can suck it.

Photography is a great way to capture and remember our experiences, so knowing how to dance around antiquated guidelines can be very useful during a Las Vegas visit.

Here, then, are 10 tips for taking photos in any casino while avoiding run-ins with casino security, law enforcement and The Man. Let the security breaches begin!

Photos in casinos

One of our favorite things to do is take photos of “No Photos” signs in casinos. Yes, we need to get a life.

1. Use the Smallest Camera Possible

In Las Vegas, size matters. One of the keys to taking photos in casinos is to avoid being noticed. The smaller the camera, the better. Smartphone cameras tend to blend in, while larger, DSLR cameras can draw unwanted attention. Casino security is on the lookout for what’s considered “professional quality equipment,” so use your phone’s camera whenever possible.

2. Take Stills, Not Video

Just as a small camera is preferable to a larger one, still photography is less problematic than video, even if it’s taken on the same camera. Don’t push your luck. A snap is less likely to be noticed than a pan.

Casino craps dealers

Reactions to photography in casinos varies widely. Thanks to these dealers at Cosmo for not having a freak-out.

3. Turn Off Your Flash

This is a biggy. Using a flash is like a giant neon sign over your head that screams, “This person is violating the rules. Use your Taser on them immediately.” Every camera has the ability to override the automatic flash, so simply turn the flash off. It means you’ll have to hold the camera still to avoid motion blur, but you’ll get better at it with practice. (Try resting your camera on something to keep it steady, or tuck your elbow in and use your arm like a tripod.)

Las Vegas casino

One of the great ironies of Las Vegas casinos is they don’t want you to take photos, yet they make them so darned pretty.

4. Never Use a Tripod

Speaking of tripods, they’re an absolute no-no in casinos. This is the one rule that makes sense on the part of casinos. Tripod legs are a danger to other guests who are often either drunk or distracted by all the shiny things in a casino. Tripods also fall into the “professional quality equipment” category, so leave them in your hotel room so they’re handy for the homemade porn. Not that anyone would do that kind of thing in a Las Vegas hotel room, of course.

5. Work Quickly and Keep Moving

It’s easy to discreetly take a few photos and move on, but if you linger, you risk being stopped and questioned by security. Think through where you need to be for your photo so you get it right the first time. It’s not a photo shoot, and the longer it takes the more likely you’ll be chastised by an employee or security.

Vegas go-go dancer

Under no circumstances should you take photos in a casino’s party pit, unless you have every intention of sharing your photos with this Las Vegas blog.

6. Play Dumb, Drunk or Pretend You’re Hard of Hearing

Seriously. These strategies are the key to successful photography on a casino floor. Hit your spot and start snapping. Chances are someone on staff will say, “No photography!” Yes, it’s almost always with an exclamation point. Do not acknowledge the person. Keep snapping. They’ll shout again, probably louder. As you continue snapping (you should have dozens of photos by this time), turn and say, “I’m sorry, what did you say?” You’ll get the “No photography” thing again. Then say, “I didn’t realize I couldn’t take a photo here.” You get bonus points if you add this to help smooth things over, “I’m so drunk, I can’t figure out how to use the camera, anyway.” You have your photos, the employee has done their due diligence and everyone’s happy.

7. Never Shoot the Cage

While these tips apply to 99% of a casino, all bets are off when it comes to the cashier cage. Most casinos use security concerns as an excuse to ban photography, but that reason is outdated and misguided. Casino thieves don’t need photos to case a joint. These tips might work for cage photos, too, but why tempt fate? Steer clear.

Riviera cashier cage

One of our favorite rules is never obey rules. You’re a Vegas pro if you recognized this cage as Riviera’s.

8. Avoid Photographing Guests

As mentioned, casinos often cite security as the reason photography is prohibited, but the real reason they don’t like photography is related to customer privacy. Casinos know people are often in casinos that shouldn’t be, and are often with people they shouldn’t be with (like mistresses or even prostitutes). We’ve taken thousands of photos inside casinos, often including guests, without incident, but do as we say not as we do.

9. Find Photography-Friendly Casinos

Bans on photography aren’t universal in Las Vegas casinos, and some casinos are downright welcoming of photography. Harrah’s Las Vegas, for example, welcomes photography as long as the photos aren’t of customers. Four Queens, downtown, actually has signs encouraging photography.

Four Queens photography welcome

Possibly the best thing since brothel gift certificates.

10. Always, Always Be Polite

If you’re approached by a casino employee, always be polite and never let the interaction get confrontational. Security guards tend to get overzealous, and tensions can escalate quickly. If it does, you’ll lose, so just be nice. If asked, explain your photos are for personal use, not commercial. Never offer to delete photos you have already taken, and do not let security review your photos, as they do not have the legal right to do so. Odds are you’ll be treated like a child being scolded, but keep calm and don’t take it personally. Ask to speak to a manager, and sort it out with someone higher on the food chain. In the vast majority of cases, if you’re nice, and avoid acting like you’re doing research for an “Ocean’s Elven”-style robbery, you’ll be reminded of the rules about photography and be sent on your way.

Here’s the bottom line: We’ve never heard of a case of someone being kicked out of a casino for taking photos. Turn off your flash, stay away from the cage, work quickly, act dumb and keep things light if you’re confronted by a casino employee.

We’d love to hear your casino photography stories, especially if they involve pretending to be drunk. Because you’re nearly as adorable when you’re pretend drunk as when you’re actual drunk.

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Security Breach: El Cortez Begins Creation of Imbibe Bar

Way back in Jan. 2016, we caught wind of a new bar coming to El Cortez, the classic hotel on Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas.

At last, the hotel’s current casino bar has been closed and Imbibe bar is in the works.

El Cortez Imbibe bar

Yes, even if it’s just a curtain, it qualifies as a security breach. You’re quite the stickler, aren’t you?

The hotel has made no official announcement about the bar, it’s closure, any expansion
or even the bar’s name. Just go with it, anyway.

Naturally, we had to peek behind the drapes to see what’s up inside.

El Cortez Imbibe bar

The future home of Captain Morgan spiced rum and possibly other kinds of liquor we care much less about.

Presumably, the new Imbibe bar will try to appeal to a younger crowd. From what we hear, there’s already a strong millennial presence on Fridays and Saturdays. El Cortez benefits from all the surrounding restaurants and bars (think Gold Spike and Commonwealth) in the Fremont East District.

We did a walk-through of Fremont East so you can get your bearings.

Staffers say not only is the bar being renovated, but it’s expanding beyond the current casino bar’s footprint, and could potentially swallow the area where the keno parlor resides. (The keno desk would then be relocated to the hotel’s sports book area.)

El Cortez Imbibe lounge

Cornhole and foosball in 3…2…

We’ll keep an eye on the new bar at El Cortez, of course, but in the meantime, you’ll want to take advantage of a new promotion at the historic casino.

Here’s a thingy because we’re too drunk to relay the details.

El Cortez promotion

We refuse to do math unless it directly benefits us. This is that.

So, that’s cool, right? You’re making a withdrawal from the ATM, anyway, so why not get some free slot play?

Once you make your ATM withdrawal, head to the casino cage. There, you’ll be given a certificate for free play. Take the certificate to the loyalty club desk, and the free play is put on your club card.

El Cortez promotion

Vast fortunes have been won in Las Vegas with $15. Actual results may vary.

Now, win something and stick it to The Man. Winning with free play is even sweeter than the regular kind of winning, promise.

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Security Breach: A Peek Inside W Las Vegas at SLS

W Las Vegas, a new hotel-within-a-hotel at SLS Las Vegas, officially opens Dec. 1, 2016. As you might suspect, we couldn’t wait that long.

We poked our nose inside the new hotel to see what’s in store.

W Las Vegas

Judging from the bar above, it appears W Las Vegas will practice safe mixology.

The new entry and reception area of W Las Vegas, called the Living Room, seems just about ready for its big reveal.

W Las Vegas Living Room

The Living Room at W Las Vegas is just like your own living room, just with fewer freeloading relatives.

The Living Room will have a bar, custom artwork, a DJ booth and ridiculous amounts of seating.

W Las Vegas is essentially taking over one of the towers, the Lux tower, at SLS Las Vegas. The W Las Vegas will have its own private entrance and other amenities, including a rooftop pool called Wet.

The W Las Vegas Living Room

Nobody really gets the whole hotel-within-a-hotel thing, so just play along.

W Las Vegas designers appear to be embracing their new Las Vegas home, as a number of casino-themed touches appear throughout the hotel.

For example, there’s an area near the W hotel tower elevators sporting wallpaper with Sahara playing cards.

W Hotel Las Vegas

We’re loving this nod to the classic Sahara. The Sahara closed on May 16, 2011 and opened as SLS on August 23, 2014.

Also nearby is a wall featuring thousands of casino chips.

W Hotel Las Vegas lobby

Oh, all right, we didn’t count them, so, thousands-ish.

Reps of W Las Vegas have teased there will be a W made from 20,000 poker chips. We’re pretty sure the W below is the W in question, but didn’t want to spoil the surprise. We also don’t want to be banned from the hotel before it opens.

W Hotel Las Vegas

No, we didn’t peek. It’s called restraint.

W Hotels & Resorts is a luxury hotel chain owned by Marriott International. The company operates nearly 50 hotels in 24 countries and has some serious marketing clout.

The opening of W Las Vegas, in addition to the recent opening of the Lucky Dragon casino about two minutes away, could signal new life for SLS Las Vegas and the north end of The Strip. Staff members at SLS Las Vegas are being told the opening of W Las Vegas is expected to boost restaurant and casino business at SLS roughly 20%, right off the bat.

The prospects of new business at SLS means that W could very well stand for “win-win.” We’ll reserve judgment until we see if the Living Room bar serves Captain Morgan.

W Las Vegas Sneak Peek

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Let’s Blow Through What’s Going On at Linq Promenade

Change comes fast and furious in Las Vegas, so we thought it time to take another pass at what’s new at Linq promenade. That, of course, it code for security breaches!

First up, we poked our nose over the construction wall and In-N-Out, a long-awaited addition to the Linq mall (located between Flamingo and Linq hotels).

Presumably, the Strip outpost of In-N-Out will open by the end of the year, but at this point, there’s little to see in the way of progress.

Linq promenade In-N-Out

Why doth thou torment us so, In-N-Out?

Nearby, there’s another restaurant in the works, Canter’s Deli. Of Canter’s Deli fame.

This establishment, too, is supposed to arrive soon, but at the moment is little more than an empty room with sadness written all over it.

Linq Canter's Deli

Canter’s will take up residency in the space formerly used by the High Roller Ferris wheel ticket office.

Other parts of the Linq promenade, however, hold a bit more promise.

There’s a new restaurant in the works, Jaburrito, a place for sushi burritos, which we understand isn’t nearly as gross as it sounds.

Linq Jaburritos

Former home of a failed lingerie shop, Ruby Blue. There will be a quiz.

Linq promenade is currently decked out in its Halloween finest, including some impressive ghouls and werewolves along the pedestrian mall.

Linq promenade Halloween

Linq promenade, helping populate your nightmares since 2014.

The monsters at Linq are a fun diversion, and lots of visitors seemed to be taking advantage of the free photo op.

Linq promenade vampire

That time it got awkward because your fear was tinged with arousal.

In keeping with the Linq’s practice of refreshing its public art, there’s a new undead-themed mural.

Halloween zombie mural

Don’t believe zombies exist? Who do you think approved the Las Vegas stadium deal?

A new addition to the Linq promenade is an exotic vehicle rental stand.

Linq exotic car rentals

Drunk tourists, lots of traffic and three-wheeled vehicles? What could possibly go wrong?

The rates don’t seem particularly high, but we are a blog, not a Slingshot expert.

Linq exotic car rentals

Seriously, though, driving The Strip in a vehicle without a roof is a great way to take it all in.

Urban Turban, a popular Vegas restaurant, now has a stand at Linq (sorry, “open-air kitchen”), and it’s fully up and running.

The menu is somewhat limited, but what’s on it looks tempting.

Linq Urban Turban

Ripped from the pages of the bestselling book, “How to Open a Restaurant With the Change You Find Under Your Couch Cushions.”

Here’s the Urban Turban menu. What, you thought we were going to leave you hanging?

Urban Turban menu

Finally, a menu so streamlined even we could memorize it.

Nearby, of course, is the High Roller observation wheel. Nothing too new there, but we felt it was a good time to bring up the fact Las Vegas is home to the world’s largest Ferris wheel. It continues to struggle to meet ridership targets, but we shouldn’t take this engineering wonder for granted.

Thanks to the miracle and curse that is the Internet, there’s an easy way to see everything we’ve ever written about the High Roller wheel, and there’s been a metric hell-ton. Warning: Some of it is really weird.

High Roller wheel

Let’s take a moment to revel in the wonder and remember the High Roller has changed the Las Vegas skyline forever.

And some final newness, just behind the High Roller wheel is a seasonal attraction, The Zombie Escape. It’s a haunted house with zombies. Which we didn’t personally confirm, but what the hell else could it be?

Zombie Escape

The Zombie Escape felt a little cobbled-together, but we suspect it provides the promised thrills.

The Zombie Escape is $20, with $5 off for Total Rewards members.

That’s about all the news that’s fit to report, especially in a state of advanced intoxication. Allegedly. Here are more pics of the latest developments at Linq promenade. As always, you can thank us in Captain Morgan.

Linq Promenade Update, Oct. 2016

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