Category Archives: Las Vegas

Las Vegas Fully Reopens June 1, Social Distancing Mandate Ends May 1

A last minute news conference by Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak featured rainbows, frolicking unicorns and uncharacteristically upbeat news!

The Governor says Las Vegas will reopen fully on June 1, 2021, and social distancing restrictions will be lifted May 1, 2021.

This is welcome news for a tourism-centric town hard hit by the economic fallout of the pandemic.

Vegas reopens June 1

One year later. Las Vegas casinos reopened after the shutdown on June 4, 2020.

Here’s the Governor’s thread on the Twitters. Wait, you’re not on Twitter? What do you with all that spare time and mental wellness?

Anyway, Governor Sisolak said a lot of other words in his new conference on April 13, 2021, but we sort of stopped listening after “fully opening June 1.”

We did hear the part where there’s no end date in sight for the mask mandate. At this point, we’ll take what we can get.

In other good news, May 1 will mark additional lifting of restrictions, including the potential  return of self-service buffets.

Yes, in Las Vegas, that’s a big deal.

There are only two buffets open at the moment, at Cosmo and South Point. Expect that to change.

Nightclubs and dayclubs will be able to open. They’re sort of open now, but more like lounges.

As of May 1, dance floors will return. It seems backing it up will be back, if you get our drift.

Hot tubs and spas will be reopened at gyms, body art and piercing will return and Costco can do food samples again.

tattoo

Tats need to come back, stat.

As of May 1, restaurants will be able to book bigger groups (from a limit of six to a max of 10).

Most importantly, it looks like lap dances are back!

Here’s more from Clark County, wherein Las Vegas sits.

Overall, things are progressing slowly but surely, and we’re about to see some big changes in the next couple of months.

Vegas won’t really be Vegas again until the mask mandate goes away, but given the past year, any return to normalcy is more than welcome.

Translation: It’s about damned time.

Tropicana Sold to Bally’s Corp. for Deal Worth $308 Million

The Tropicana Las Vegas resort has been sold to Bally’s Corp., the company formerly known as Twin River, for a deal worth $308 million.

Tropicana is currently owned by Gaming and Leisure Properties, Inc. (GLPI), the REIT (real estate investment trust) spin-off of Penn National Gaming.

Here’s the story in human English: Penn needed to unload Trop, sold it to itself, took a year to find a buyer and now Bally’s gets to deal with it.

Tropicana Las Vegas

Trop could become Bally’s, but it can’t be Bally’s while there’s a Bally’s. Long story.

In case you don’t know anything about Bally’s Corp., the company owns 11 casinos across seven states and describes itself as “a leading U.S. omnichannel provider of land-based gaming and interactive entertainment.”

Somebody’s really fluffing up their LinkedIn profile.

As if that didn’t turn you on enough, the official news release about the sale says this, “The transaction is expected to be accretive to Bally’s shareholders long-term and will require no cash outlay from Bally’s at closing. Bally’s and GLPI have agreed to use commercially reasonable efforts to negotiate and enter into definitive documents with respect to these transactions as promptly as practicable in order to fully reflect the contemplated terms.”

Here’s what they mean.

Bally’s Corp. will pay $150 million for Tropicana, but just the above-ground part. GLPI will still own the land underneath.

Since the owner didn’t sell the land, this seems to put to bed speculation the purchase of Trop would be a land play, and that the classic resort could be demolished. Then again, it’s Vegas, where there are no sure things.

Tropicana Shops

This was the plan for Tropicana at one time. Ah, plans.

Apparently, Bally’s wasn’t willing to pony up to purchase Trop outright. The asking price for the building and land (based upon the value of the land) was $384 million.

Bally’s Corp. will have a 50-year lease, with annual rent coming in at a super cheap $10.5 million.

Well, super cheap compared to other Strip casino resorts. We’ve heard Trop made about $20 million in EBIDTA (earnings before interest, depreciation taxes and amortization) pre-COVID.

If Bally’s sounds familiar, that’s because there’s a Bally’s resort in Las Vegas.

Which takes us down the path we recently talked about with an incredibly informative and entertaining blog post about how Bally’s (the resort) is likely to be rebranded as Horseshoe.

While the Bally’s rebrand hasn’t been confirmed, we’re right about everything, so just go with it.

Don’t laugh. Who told you way back in June Bally’s (Twin River) was looking to purchase at Tropicana?

Tropicana sold

Technically, it’s just the one river, but you get the idea.

The sale of Tropicana is part of a bigger deal between Bally’s and GLPI, but it involves casinos that aren’t in Las Vegas, so who really gives a crap?

What does the sale of Tropicana mean to you?

Well, first, you didn’t got to Trop that much, if at all. So, it doesn’t mean anything to you.

To people who like Tropicana, which includes us (despite the fact we don’t go to Trop that much), Bally’s says it is looking forward to “exploring significant redevelopment of the property.” Yeah, so, don’t hold your breath.

The potential for “enhancing the financial profile” of Tropicana isn’t great, so expect little movement on that front once Bally’s takes the reins.

So, here’s another twist. Twin River purchased the Bally’s brand in Oct. 2020. How about Bally’s resort rebrands to Horseshoe, then Tropicana rebrands to Bally’s Las Vegas?

Have our hastily slapped-together Photoshops ever been wrong?

Beyond a rebrand, it’s likely some of the existing partnerships at Trop, forged under Penn’s ownership, will go away.

We’d place a little money on the forgettable Robert Irvine’s Public House being among the contracts to end when the sale to Bally’s is finalized.

We would share which existing brands at Trop are Penn brands, but that would require “legwork” and “effort,” so you’re on your own.

Gird your REITs, because there’s an epic hell-ton more mergers, acquisitions and purchases in the works in Las Vegas.

You know you’ll hear about them here first! Actual results may vary.

EDC Music Festival Moves Forward With May Dates, It’s Complicated

The EDC (Electric Daisy Carnival) music festival officially announced the event will move forward with its May 21-23, 2021 dates.

That sound you hear is thousands of people shrieking. Some with glee, some with dismay, but it’s happening.

The startling news came just one day after authorities rejected EDC’s safety plan.

Interestingly, EDC is older than most of its attendees.

The eleventh hour decision to proceed with holding the massive event in May was a nail-biter. Previously, multiple sources shared the event would be postponed to October, but organizers had other plans.

EDC’s CEO Pasqual Rotella announced the big news in an Instagram post. Naturally. Because news releases are drenched in weaksauce.

Rotella, which also happens to be one of our favorite pastas, said, “Electric Daisy Carnival is finally on the horizon. There were times during the pandemic when many of us lost hope. We were challenged to learn and listen to our hearts and trust that the storm would eventually pass, making way for a bright and sunny future for those in our community and around the world.”

Let’s just say Rotella knows his target demo.

He continued, “With the world being shut down for over a year, I’m happy to announce we’re on our way to being able to celebrate in person. Book your flights, hotels and shuttles—EDC Las Vegas is on for May 21+22+23!”

While EDC’s original safety plan wasn’t approved, we trust a variation thereof will be.

The 12-page plan (see it in .pdf format) includes all the things you’d expect, like masks, but two elements stand out.

First, there could be COVID-sniffing dogs, which we didn’t even know what a thing before now. That’s right, rona dogs!

The plan even included an area dubbed the COVID Detection Canine Corral.

We aren’t a music festival person, but we damn well are a canine corral person.

EDC’s proposed plan also relies heavily on Health Pass, an app we predicted would be the next big thing in Las Vegas back in Dec. 2020. Our crystal ball comes in handy, not that we have to make everything about us.

The Health Pass mobile app basically connects I.D. verification, lab results and ticketing, so venues can say those entering have been vaccinated or tested negative for COVID.

Sounds like fun!

Health Pass

Before you get all indignant, use of apps and attendance at music festivals are both voluntary.

Given EDC’s plan was rejected by authorities, we honestly have no clue how organizers decided to move forward.

It could be organizers go the O.K. to proceed with adjustments to its plan, or they decided, “Thank you for your input, but we’re holding our rave, anyway.”

Given this is an outdoor event, and there’s relatively little serious risk for younger people (the vast majority of EDC attendees), we say full steam ahead, EDC.

This huge gathering (EDC expects 200,000 people to attend), held at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, is likely to do just what EDC says it will: It will be the first major live concert event in a year, and will symbolically “kick-start the event and hospitality industries” in Las Vegas and beyond.

EDC says the event contributes $300 million to the Las Vegas economy, and those dollars will be welcome in a tourism-based town especially hard hit by the pandemic.

There’s been some glorious drama behind the scenes with EDC, and we can’t wait to see how the saga unfolds.

Despite Our Best Efforts, Karaoke is Back

One of the few upsides of the pandemic was the disappearance of karaoke in Las Vegas, but now it’s back, despite our best efforts.

Yes, yes, we know karaoke (a Japanese term meaning “ear stabbing”) has legions of fans. There are also people who enjoy having their testicles crushed between large rocks.

Anyhoo, Nevada officials have deemed karaoke and open mic gatherings cool again, as long as venues stick to a 50 percent capacity limit.

For additional protection, karaoke lounges must use microphone covers, replaced after every slaughtering of “Sweet Caroline” or “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

Kamu mic cover

So glad we had the foresight to invest in mic condom futures.

Venues must also keep singers 12 feet from audience members, which, in the case of most karaoke singers, isn’t nearly far enough.

Anyone not actively singing, eating or drinking must be masked. Our motto: Always be drinking.

There are a slew of karaoke options in Las Vegas.

A few of the most popular are Cat’s Meow at Neonopolis, Ellis Island, Dino’s Lounge and Kamu Karaoke at Palazzo.

Yes, there are many others, but we don’t want to encourage this behavior.

Kamu neon room

Kamu Karaoke wins everything with this neongasm, one of 40 themed rooms.

It’s best to not question why authorities considered karaoke a public health hazard before now. Beyond the obvious threat to eardrums, that is.

Let’s just focus on the fact Vegas is healing, with restrictions loosening and crowds returning (at least on weekends).

The surprisingly quick return of visitors in such great numbers has caused some service issues, and don’t get us started about rideshare wait times, but overall, Las Vegas is ready to Las Vegas again.

We even sort of welcome the off-key screeching of karaoke singers. We’re confident the feeling will pass.

Plaza Podcast Sheds Light on Fremont Street History and Glorious Drama

The latest installment of Plaza’s “On the Corner of Main Street” podcast is full of all the things you love in a Las Vegas podcast: History, inside scoop and ample amounts of us being a smartass.

That’s right, it’s our second time as a guest on the show, and after diving headlong into all the latest Las Vegas news, we bask in the glow of some spectacular awkwardness.

Plaza podcast

It’s not really a corner, but we’re letting is slide because they had us on the show again.

Plaza’s podcast has become a must-listen, and features the casino’s CEO, Jonathan Jossel, as well as Plaza staffers Lisa Melmed and Gary Vickery.

The juicy center of episode 40 is a frank discussion about the history of the relationship between Plaza and its neighbor, Fremont Street Experience (where we used to work in digital marketing).

A heated debate on Twitter about the impact of the Fremont Street Experience light show canopy and SlotZilla zipline inspired an exploration into the evolution of downtown and who allegedly did what to whom and when.

Shakira light show Vegas

How could this 16,433,152 pixel beauty cause so much controversy? Listen to the podcast.

Did the Fremont Street Experience canopy ruin the views of Glitter Gulch (not the former strip club, the original meaning) or save downtown from a slow, painful demise? Maybe both?

Would downtown be better off without the Viva Vision screen and zipline? Would there even be a downtown Las Vegas without the video screen and zipline?

Was the SlotZilla zipline landing platform a slap at Plaza due to tensions related to a lawsuit between Fremont Street Experience and Plaza, or is its design based upon engineering constraints?

Why did it take years for the zipline landing platform to be enhanced visually, and was the installation of a video screen a magnanimous gesture or a concession at a time when Fremont Street Experience was looking for City funding for its digital display upgrade? (The Oscar on Plaza’s Oscar’s Steakhouse refers to Oscar Goodman, former mayor of Las Vegas. His wife, Carolyn Goodman, is the current mayor.)

That SlotZilla structure might be small in size, but it’s been the source of a big kerfuffle.

All these dots and more are connected on the podcast, and we’d recommend a listen despite our participation.

Especially interesting are Jonathan Jossel’s insights into what Fremont Street might have been.

At one time, it was proposed Fremont Street would be a waterway. No kidding, the plan would’ve involved 22-foot-wide canals, gondolas, the whole nine yards. The name: “Las Venice.” Read more.

There was also a plan to have a parade in the sky, with floats running along tracks high above Fremont Street.

If that sounds familiar, it’s because Rio ended up with a similar attraction. Rio’s “Masquerade Show in the Sky” closed March 30, 2013.

Show in the Sky

This was going to be a Fremont Street thing for a minute.

We only recently learned the half-barrel shape of the Viva Vision canopy was the result of plans related to the parade in the sky, which was nixed after construction began. It’s not ideal for a video display. The Fremont Street Experience parking garage was actually built to be the storage, maintenance and take-off point for the overhead floats. Who knew?

You can listen to the Plaza’s podcast on the casino’s Web site, or try the embedded thingy below.

If you’ve never heard the podcast before, you’re missing out and have a lot of catching up to do.

Rumor: Franco Dragone to Bring “Rise” Show to Resorts World

Our badass, yet modest, cavalcade of scoop of about Resorts World continues! Celine Dion, boom. (Not yet announced.) Katy Perry, boom. Zedd, boom. Tiesto, boom. (Also, not yet announced, but that’s how we roll.) Giant lucky cat, boom. Next up, some Franco Dragone boom!

A source tells us Franco Dragone, the creative force behind some of the most successful and lauded shows in the history of Las Vegas, will bring his new show, “Rise,” to Resorts World.

We just got a boom cramp, give us a minute.

Rise

Bottom line: Dragone’s pretty much a creative genius. Unrelated: Dibs on Boom Cramp as a band name.

While our source has been reliable in the past, it’s worth noting this rumor is unconfirmed and Resorts World denies it’s happening.

Dragone, at one time associated with Cirque du Soleil, co-created “Mystere,” “O,” the now-closed “Le Reve” at Wynn and Celine Dion’s first Las Vegas residency at Caesars Palace, “A New Day.”

We understand “Rise” will be performed outdoors, a new twist on the traditional Cirque-style production.

“Rise” was created during the pandemic, and was showcased in a warehouse in late 2020. The original intention of the show was for it to be a one-night experience, to raise awareness about the plight of entertainers during the COVID-19 crisis. Here’s more.

Dragone shopped “Rise” to a number of Las Vegas casino companies, including Caesars Entertainment, but Resorts World is rumored to have put a ring on it.

While we didn’t catch “Rise” when it was showcased, we’re pretty sure there will be music and acrobats. It’s also pretty much guaranteed to have an incomprehensible “story.” We kid because we love, Dragone.

During its showcase, “Rise” was titled “Rise: A Socially Distanced Entertainment Experience.” We trust that last part will be dumped when the show opens at Resorts World.

Here’s a fun fact: Should Celine’s residency be confirmed at Resorts World (it will be) and Dragone’s show be confirmed (it will be), it would mean the pair will working under the same roof for the first time since “A New Day.”

Although, we’re using the term “roof” very loosely here, as “Rise” will be performed outdoors, but just go with it.

Hey, Resorts World, leave a little awesome for everyone else. Thanks.

In unrelated Dragone news: Dragone recently announced he would collaborate with magician Criss Angel on an “interactive immersive euphoria” experience. If you’re scratching your head right now, join the club. Here’s more, but good luck.

Resorts World has already built so much buzz, we’re surprised there could be any more surprises, but clearly there’s a lot more in store for this new Strip resort expected to officially open July 4, 2021 (also unconfirmed).

After a rocky year of WTF, folks are ready to “Rise” and enjoy bendy people again. Should this rumor come to fruition, we look forward to the triumphant return of Dragone to the Las Vegas Strip.

Update (4/10/21): We reached out to Resorts World and were informed there are “no plans to bring ‘Rise’ to the property at this time.”