Category Archives: Las Vegas

Our Five Juiciest Unconfirmed Las Vegas Rumors

We love a juicy Las Vegas rumor! We’ve shared a ton of them in recent months, mainly on Twitter, and several have been about what could be the biggest Las Vegas stories of the year.

Our sources are epic, but these rumors have been to be officially announced. The anticipation of scoop being confirmed is part of the fun.

Here, then, are five of our best exclusive Las Vegas rumors patiently awaiting confirmation, along with the odds of them actually panning out.

1. Sale of Rio Las Vegas (Odds: Even money)

Rumors of a sale of the Rio resort have been floating around for ages, but our rumor’s the most reliable because we know people. Caesars Entertainment has been shopping the Rio with gusto, and we hear serious players are in the mix this time.

From what we hear, the purchase of the Rio is likely a play for the land, so the aging resort could very well be demolished for something new and shiny.

In addition, word is the World Series of Poker will move to the Caesars Forum convention center after the Rio changes hands.

Rio

The old girl’s a little long in the tooth.

We’ve spoken to a real estate guru who said a collection of parcels adjoining the Rio have seen a spike in buyer interest in recent months, supporting our belief a sale is in the works.

Our Rio sale rumor got even more tasty when we heard the resort could be imploded for a Major League Baseball stadium. That one’s a long shot, but we’re sharing it because if it pans out, we’ll break the Internet.

2. Sale of Cosmopolitan (Odds: Even money)

We were the first to share it (in May 2018), and the only one to share it since, and we’re doubling down on the fact Hard Rock International is going to purchase the Cosmopolitan.

Since sharing the Cosmo sale rumor, two solid sources have confirmed Hard Rock International is in the due diligence phase with Blackstone Group, owner of the Cosmo. Blackstone Group purchased Cosmopolitan for $1.73 billion in May 2014 from Deutsche Bank.

Cosmopolitan Chandelier Bar

We could’ve shared a photo of the hotel, but we opted for our badass pic of Chandelier Bar.

The latest on this rumor is Hard Rock International will rebrand the Cosmo as a Hard Rock. Read more reckless rumors and speculation the Cosmopolitan hasn’t denied is happening.

3. Sale of Red Rock Resorts/Stations (Odds: 2-to-1)

This one’s flown under the radar, but we’ve heard from multiple sources Red Rock Resorts (Stations Casino) will be sold.

Chatter is that the owners, the Fertitta brothers, are looking to cash in their chips to purchase an NFL team.

Red Rock Resort

Red Rock Resort is just one of the resorts in the Red Rock Resorts family, also known as Stations. There will be a quiz.

We hear media inquiries to Stations have resulted in responses of “no comment,” always a good sign a rumor has legs. (Otherwise, the rumor would just be denied.)

We’ve also heard certain Red Rock Resorts’ casinos won’t be part of the sale, specifically Palms and Palace Station, and possibly one other.

It’ll be fun to see how this deal unfolds, and don’t be surprised if there’s announcement soon.

4. Sale of Wynn Las Vegas (Odds: 5-to-1)

Wynn Resorts is in a crazy state of flux at the moment, with its stock price down dramatically and results of an investigation into sexual misconduct by ousted CEO Steve Wynn on the horizon. (Expect more leadership changes in the months to come.)

Everyone agrees Wynn is ripe for an acquisition, but opinions vary about who the buyer could be.

Wynn Encore

Wynn Resorts is in a state of flux at the moment. You might say Steve Wynn really fluxed things up.

Our latest intel says it could very well be Genting Group, the company building Resorts World.

Even casual observers have noticed the windows being installed at Resorts World bear a striking resemblance to those at Wynn and Encore.

Experts, though, point to the fact if Genting purchased Wynn, the company would gain access to an incredibly profitable market, Macau.

It’s unknown how far along Genting might be in its pursuit of Wynn Resorts, but such a scenario would be fascinating to watch. Especially if we’re right, of course.

5. Funding of All Net Resort and Arena (8-to-1)

Of all our juicy Las Vegas rumors, this one’s got the most detractors.

The rumor? That All Net Resort and Arena has gotten funding (again) and is going to happen.

All Net Resort and Arena is planned for the former Wet ‘n Wild waterpark on the north end of The Strip, next to SLS Las Vegas.

It was originally slated to open in 2017 (the groundbreaking happened all the way back in October 2014). At one point, the project was said to be fully funded by Credit Suisse, but apparently the company got cold feet and bailed.

All Net Arena

Give it a minute. Another minute.

Despite the false starts, we’ve heard an announcement about foreign financing could happen at any time.

We have no idea why we’re clinging to this rumor coming true. Maybe it’s just that we love rooting for an underdog.

Think some of these rumors are crazy?

Don’t make us rattle off all the times our sources nailed it! Recently, we scooped the media by months with rumors about a massive Google data center in Henderson, a new venue at Caesars Palace from Lisa Vanderpump, the first Chick-fil-A on The Strip, Mandarin Oriental becoming Waldorf Astoria, Lady Gaga getting a Vegas residency and too many others to count.

And don’t get us started on our previous “boom.” We broke the sales of Riviera, SLS Las Vegas, Hard Rock, Las Vegas Club, Fontainebleau and the Alon site.

We literally told you not to get us started.

Let’s hear your thoughts on the rumors you think are legit and which ones you think illustrate the belief our hammock doesn’t quite reach both trees.

Sigma Derby is Done at MGM Grand

A popular, old-timey horse racing slot machine called Sigma Derby has finally been put down for good at MGM Grand.

Sigma Derby has a passionate following, and until recently, there were just two in Las Vegas (and possibly the country).

And then there was one.

An MGM Grand rep confirmed to us Sigma Derby won’t be back. The company said it has “done everything possible to prolong its active lifespan but that’s simply no longer possible.”

Sigma Derby MGM Grand

MGM Grand’s Sigma Derby was in its Level Up lounge for a minute. Guests were less than whelmed. It was moved back to the main casino floor for the remainder of its life.

That leaves just one Sigma Derby standing, the one at downtown’s The D Las Vegas.

Sigma Derby has built a fan base for a number of reasons.

There’s a communal element to the game, because up to 10 players can join in the fun. The cheering at Sigma Derby is about the only sound louder than a dice table in a Las Vegas casino.

Also, the machines only take quarters, so guests can play for an extended period of time (while enjoying free beverages) for relatively little cost.

The game is easy to understand as well. Players wager on two horses in each race. The horses they pick must finish first and second, in any order.

Sigma Derby

One of the great things about Sigma Derby is, no matter how much you drink, it’s hard to screw up too badly.

Noting the popularity of Sigma Derby, a company called Konami attempted to make an updated version of the mechanical horse racing game, Fortune Cup.

It’s fine. But it’s no Sigma Derby.

While fans of Sigma Derby will bemoan its passing at MGM Grand, we have to believe the casino is relieved to have it off the floor once and for all.

The machines break down frequently, and parts are nearly impossible to get, and many of the parts have to be fabricated from scratch.

Sigma Derby

Sigma Derby isn’t so much a slot machine as a cult.

In addition, casinos have moved away from coins to TITO (ticket in, ticket out) systems because of the cost of labor and maintenance involved.

Sigma Derby

You never know what people will grow attached to. Welcome to Sigma Derby.

It’s unknown how long the sole remaining Sigma Derby might last. The D installed Fortune Cup right next to the classic machine, possibly hoping customers would migrate to the new game so the old version could be retired.

That didn’t happen, and now there’s an additional incentive to keep Sigma Derby around. There’s major P.R. value in being the only game in town.

Wynn Resorts Pulls Plug on Paradise Park Lagoon

Wynn Resorts has confirmed a story we were the first to share, that it’s pulled the plug on its Wynn Paradise Park lagoon project.

While Wynn started tearing up grass on its golf course several months ago in preparation for the lagoon, it will now redesign and open the 18-hole course again with the assistance of designer Tom Fazio.

Wynn golf course

Here, you can see the partially torn up Wynn golf course. If only golf courses had an undo function.

The lagoon project was considered a longshot from day one, a vanity project of disgraced former CEO Steve Wynn.

With Wynn out of the picture as a result of his sexual misconduct scandal, there was no champion of the lagoon project at Wynn Resorts, and it simply didn’t pencil out.

The project was supposed to feature not only the 38-acre lagoon (with water skiing, paddle boarding and parasailing), but also bumper cars, a boardwalk, carousel, ziplines, a nightly Carnivale parade (with a dozen 30-foot floats) with fireworks and even an animatronic King Kong.

Yes, that’s a lot of whimsy. Then again, it’s Las Vegas.

Wynn Paradise Park

What might have been.

During an earnings call, Wynn Resorts said that since closing the golf course, the company has lost out on $15-20 million in revenue.

The Wynn golf course closed on Dec. 22, 2017.

Here’s a look at the Wynn golf course before it looked rode hard and put up wet.

Wynn Golf Club

You can’t afford it, so don’t bother drooling.

While Wynn Resorts confirmed the lagoon project would be nixed on Nov. 7, 2018, we shared the story during a Channel 8 segment and on Twitter back in October. Because our tipsters are badass, bro.

The Wynn convention center is expected to proceed as planned, but the hotel tower at the canceled Wynn Paradise Park appears to be shelved.

It’s unclear what, if anything, will happen with the former Alon site, just across the street from Wynn and Encore. Wynn officials have said they expect it to take two years to design and develop a plan.

Don’t be surprised if the current Wynn leadership isn’t around to see whatever it’s going to be come to fruition. The development of the Alon site won’t even start until 2019.

Alon site

It seems the Alon site will remain empty for at least two years. Sigh.

While Wynn Paradise Park seemed overly ambitious and slightly nutty, Las Vegas could use a little more of that at the moment.

It feels like Vegas has traded in audaciousness for prudence, boldness for pragmatism. Prudence and pragmatism might pay some bills, but they don’t exactly scream excitement.

Las Vegas could use less corn hole and more giant King Kong, less sure thing and more Hail Mary.

While Wynn Paradise Park won’t be happening, it felt like something fresh and fearless, and we feel a tinge of sadness at its demise. Big ideas don’t come along every day, and Wynn Paradise Park was just that.

Downtown Grand Lends a Hand to Make Downtown Gateway a Thing

It doesn’t happen often, but when we get something wrong, we admit it. We got the downtown gateway wrong, it’s actually a thing.

“What’s the downtown gateway?” you ask, impertinently. It’s this.

Downtown gateway sign

The original Las Vegas sign may not be in Las Vegas (it’s in Clark County), but this one is. Long story.

The new downtown gateway was built by the City of Las Vegas to the tune of about $400,000. It replaces another welcome sign, inspired by the iconic “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign on the south end of The Strip, smashed to bits by a bonehead in a truck in 2016.

When we first saw the gateway display, we thought it was fairly lame. All due respect, City of Las Vegas.

While it featured some of our favorite gambling things—dice, chips and a roulette layout—it very prominently featured two cartoon showgirls.

Downtown gateway

On the bright side, Googie stars. They’re the things floating over the “a.” You can never go wrong with Googie stars.

Not that there’s anything wrong with showgirls.

It’s just that showgirls are a somewhat antiquated symbol of Las Vegas, the last true showgirl show, “Jubilee,” having closed in 2016. The same year the “Welcome to Downtown Las Vegas” sign was destroyed. Las Vegas has no shortage of metaphors. Or ironies. Or analogies. Take your pick. We can never keep those straight.

Googie stars

If anyone ever asks what Las Vegas ninjas throw, now you know.

There was also a location problem.

The gateway was built where it was impossible to take a photo without getting a billboard in the background with an ad for a restaurant in the background. It was akin to the power lines at the welcome sign on Las Vegas Boulevard.

Downtown gateway showgirls

All the meh.

And we should also mention the fancy “Las Vegas” typography was taken from a logo the City of Las Vegas abandoned less than a year after it was unveiled.

Anyway, we figured the backward-looking display would be ignored by visitors, but over time, we’ve rarely passed the corner of Main and Las Vegas Boulevard without seeing tourists snapping selfies with the sign.

Hey, we can’t be right about everything.

Downtown gateway display

Great perk of this sign over the other Las Vegas sign: No lines.

In a completely cool move, Downtown Grand even changed up its billboard to enhance the photo op.

Props where they’re due, Downtown Grand took one for the team and made advertising secondary to giving downtown Las Vegas a much more “Grammable” photo.

Downtown Grand billboard

We actually don’t have an adequate supply of props to give to Downtown Grand for this classy move.

The gateway cost about $400,000 to construct, and morons are already finding ways to make it so we can’t have nice things.

Somebody stood on the “L” in Las Vegas and broke it. Word is the City designers are looking for ways to make the display elements more “durable.”

Downtown gateway sign

Please, people, it’s only been there three months.

We suggest the City of Las Vegas buy the billboard from Downtown Grand and swap it out with this one.

downtown gateway Vegas

Seriously, we know a guy who could make this billboard happen.

And, naturally, asshats wasted no time tagging the display.

Former Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman once got into hot water for suggesting people who do graffiti should have their thumbs cut off. We knew there was a reason we’re such a big fan of Oscar Goodman.

downtown gateway

We checked all the pips on the dice. They’re good.

The City of Las Vegas isn’t done with its welcoming efforts, either.

The City recently started taking bids for an 80-foot-tall “double arch gateway” to complement the existing welcome display.

The location of the arch hasn’t been determined yet (it’s shown in two different locations in two renderings released by the City), but it’s expected to cost $2 million.

Downtown gateway arch

This seems the most likely location, at the intersection of Las Vegas Boulevard and Sahara.

The call for bids says construction of the arch will start in June 2019 and be completed by the end of 2019.

While downtown’s welcome display won’t ever be as iconic or popular as the Las Vegas sign known around the world, maybe it doesn’t need to be.

Downtown Las Vegas doesn’t aspire to be The Strip, and its welcome sign has a distinctive vibe all its own.

If you don’t have a chance to stop at the downtown gateway for a photo, we’ve got a back-up plan. This gem outside the new marijuana museum at Neonopolis might do the trick.

Downtown White Castle photo op

You’re welcome.

No visit to Las Vegas is complete without a metric ass-ton of photos, so get busy.

Make sure to check out our list of 25 Offbeat Las Vegas Photo Ops.

Lucky Dragon Gets Zero Bids at Bankruptcy Auction

An auction for the Asian-themed Lucky Dragon resulted in zero bids, so it will go to the failed casino’s primary lender, Snow Covered Capital.

The auction on Oct. 30, 2018, had a healthy turnout at the offices of Nevada Legal News in downtown Las Vegas. In fact, the auction was so well-attended, it had to be held in the building’s parking lot.

Lucky Dragon auction

Shout-out to all the Toastmasters who know that’s a lectern and not a podium!

Unfortunately for everyone involved, nobody in the crowd was willing to meet or beat Snow Covered Capital’s $35 million minimum bid, so the company will take ownership of the shuttered Lucky Dragon.

Not only did Snow Covered Capital not get the $55 million it needed to recoup its loan, many others are losing their shorts in the Lucky Dragon saga as well.

There’s a second tier of lenders who are likely to never see a dollar, as well as innumerable craftspeople who have yet to be paid for their work on the ill-fated hotel-casino.

Lucky Dragon

Lucky Dragon may not have been a success, but nobody can say it wasn’t pretty.

The bankruptcy of Lucky Dragon will be especially brutal for the 179 foreign investors who sunk a total of $89 million into the project. Those investors were promised green cards as part of the
federal EB-5 program, and are now what industry experts call “S.O.L.”

We’ve heard a class action lawsuit may be in the making.

Read more about how foreign investors got snookered.

So, what’s next for Lucky Dragon?

While Snow Covered Capital probably would’ve preferred a magical offer of $55 million falling into its lap, having the casino in its possession now means it can pursue a buyer unfettered by the pressures and time constraints of bankruptcy and foreclosure proceedings.

It’s unknown what kind of business could make a go of Lucky Dragon, or whatever it becomes next.

Lucky Dragon

Lucky Dragon was one of our favorite Las Vegas casinos we almost never visited.

More development on the north end of The Strip would certainly make Lucky Dragon more appealing to a potential operator.

We’d love to see a new casino concept, preferably one that serves budget-conscious visitors. A boutique hotel-casino along the lines of Ellis Island could target an under-served customer
looking for a place to stay and play and gamble without being nickel-and-dimed.

In fact, now would be the perfect time for an enterprising operator to establish a casino-hotel built from the ground up to take advantage of growing frustrations about paid parking, resort fees and other irksome practices which have become common in Las Vegas.

Here’s the strategy, enterprising operator:

Swear we’ll never pay for parking, never pay a resort fee or concession fee or venue fee or convenience charge.

Ensure we’ll always get 3-to-2 on blackjack and one zero on roulette, with 100x odds on craps.

Pledge to loosen the slots. We don’t mind losing when we gamble, just make it take longer!

Make the food cheap, quick and a great value.

Pour the liquor brands we want from the bottle, not the gun, and get rid of machines that tell us  when we’re worthy of a drink. Oh, and give us a damn straw with our cocktail without having to ask for one.

Give us a “Do Not Disturb” sign rather than one that says “Room Occupied.”

Let us check in early and check out late.

And while we’re building a wishlist, bring back moving walkways. We loved those things!

Build it (or rather, rebrand it) and they will come.

Hard Rock Rolls Out Painless Drink Voucher System

The first time we ever saw a voucher system for free drinks on a video poker machine, we had a minor meltdown.

That was at Mirage, back in 2015.

Then Caesars Entertainment made a splash when it rolled out drink monitoring to all its casino bars.

We still had sort of a meltdown, but we learned some deep breathing exercises and started asking questions.

Let’s just say we’ve done a 180 since 2015, largely due to understanding more about why drink monitoring systems are necessary and how, surprisingly, they help players.

This knowledge came in handy when we learned Hard Rock casino has implemented drink monitoring in all its casino bars. (Thanks to Lisa H. for the tip!)

Here’s a look at the new message guests see when they sit at a video poker machine at Hard Rock.

Hard Rock drink vouchers

What once gave us palpitations now elicits a “La-dee-dah.” Don’t judge. We used to musical theater.

No meltdown. Either we’re mellowing, or we’re starting to get a clue. You decide, because we’re drunk on comped drinks.

See, drink monitoring accomplishes a lot for casinos.

One, it cuts costs. Gone are the days when players would slip a dollar in a video poker machine and try to drink free all night. These systems assure players are actually playing, which is part of the deal to get drinks for “free.”

That’s the way it’s always been in Las Vegas, by the way, the monitoring was just never automated before.

Two, it takes the drink monitoring burden away from bartenders. Their reaction to drink monitoring systems has evolved much as ours has over the last couple of years, by the way. It’s no fun being a gatekeeper.

Three, drink monitoring systems prevent over-serving. The default in Las Vegas now seems to be players can earn about three free drinks per hour with continuous play. That’s how it works at Hard Rock, too.

So, what do these systems do for players?

One of the best benefits is monitoring systems keep freeloaders from taking up seats where you want to play. You know, to gamble. Which is sort of the point of having video poker at casino bars in the first place. They’re for gamblers.

Also, drink monitoring systems like the voucher system at Hard Rock take much of the mystery out of how much you have to play and at what betting level before you’ve earned more free hooch. You know where you stand.

The message on the machine at Hard Rock makes it clear. You put in $20, you get your first free drink. Then, just make $1 (or more) bets continuously, and you’ll get a steady supply.

By the time we were done at Hard Rock, we had more vouchers than we could actually redeem. We also won $60.

It was yet another reminder why Las Vegas is the best place on Earth.

Hard Rock drink vouchers

If you ever let a drink voucher go unredeemed, you’re doing Vegas wrong.

Some other small print at Hard Rock: The drink vouchers are only good for 12 hours, the vouchers aren’t transferable and the “beverage selection is limited.” They’ll have what you want unless you’re a snooty 60-year-old bottle of Macallan Valerio Adami person.

And, no, we don’t actually know what that is, but you get our point.

So, has Vegas changed in recent years? Yes.

Would we prefer to get free booze anytime, anywhere? Sure.

Are drinking monitoring systems coming to all the slots on Las Vegas casino floors? You bet.

But drink monitoring systems like the ones at Hard Rock or Caesars resorts or Westgate don’t even make the top three of our “Most Bothersome Things About Vegas Casinos” list.

That would be, in no particular order: 1) No plastic straws, 2) paid parking and 3) swapping out the liquor brand we order with a knock-off and lying about it.

By the way, parking at Hard Rock (soon to be Virgin Hotel Las Vegas) is free. Plus, they poured our Captain Morgan from a bottle and even included straws without our having to ask.

Man, alive, we love this town.