Category Archives: Security Breaches

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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The Trains Are Officially Leaving Palace Station

The off-Strip Palace Station is getting a major facelift, and that includes dumping its train station theme.

The resort recently unveiled its fancy new porte cochere.

Palace Station

Hey, it’s fancy for Palace Station.

Other upgrades have included a remodel of the hotel’s facade and a new bingo room.

Since it opened in 1976 (as The Casino, because naming things is hard), Palace Station has featured several decorative trains—more art than accurate replicas—on its north-facing exterior.

The trains are out of sight thanks to a large construction wall.

Palace Station

Nice attempt at thwarting us there, Palace Station. We are, however, 100% thwartproof.

Construction walls don’t tend to serve as a deterrent to us, so we nabbed a photo of the very first of the train noses to be removed.

Somebody’s got to do it.

Palace Station trains

Thwart this.

While Palace Station claims it’s in talks with the Neon Museum to take the trains, but that’s a symbolic exercise. The trains aren’t of any particular historic value to the Neon Museum, and more significantly, they don’t have any neon.

When donations are made to the Neon Museum, a nonprofit, removal and transportation of the signs is paid for by the donor, often at a cost of thousands of dollars. Donors are also asked to donate additional funds for the restoration of the signs.

So, as we said, an unlikely scenario. The Neon Museum might get one of the trains, but otherwise, it’s farewell to these decorative touches at Palace Station.

It remains to be seen what will happen to the large, classic marquees at the resort, as they’re clearly train-inspired.

Palace Station

The device on the front of a train that deflects objects is called a “cowcatcher.”

Palace Station officials have said the renovations are moving the resort toward a “mid-century modern design.” Translation: “Less interesting.”

A number of Las Vegas casinos have attempted de-theming to modernize and presumably have a broader appeal. We’re looking at you, millennials.

Monte Carlo will soon become Park MGM, and Treasure Island was rebranded as TI, along with removal of many of its swashbuckling elements, including its free “Sirens of TI” show. The Luxor, at least on the inside, is much less Egyptian than when it opened.

Next up, Palace Station will revamp its buffet and add two additional restaurants.

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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.

It’s been confirmed the Las Vegas Club hotel towers (and indeed all the structures on the block) will be demolished, but not with an implosion.

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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