Category Archives: Las Vegas

Take a Walk Along a Las Vegas Casino Surveillance Catwalk

It’s rare when you see something you’ve never seen before, but gird your loins, you’re about to.

A few years back, before Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall (originally Barbary Coast) was gutted to become the Cromwell, we got to stroll the casino’s old-school, labyrinthine catwalk.

casino security catwalk

Do you have any idea how long we’ve waited to use the word “labyrinthine” in a blog post?

Before the “eye in the sky” came along, casino surveillance guys (they were pretty much universally male) would peer down from above with binoculars to watch for dishonest employees and players trying to cheat the house.

Mostly that first thing, surprisingly.

What was it like? Here’s a never-before-seen glimpse into a bygone era in Las Vegas.

Many of the old security passageways in Las Vegas casinos were closed off years ago, but a few remain.

Given the extensive renovation of Cromwell, it’s unlikely the security catwalk in our video survived.

Casino security has come a long way since the early days of Las Vegas, of course. Now, casinos use sophisticated cameras and video analysis software to protect their assets.

casino security

In older casinos, new technology (dome cameras, left) co-exists with old. Note the one-way mirrors at right.

In recent years, Las Vegas casinos have started using what’s called “non-obvious relationship awareness,” or NORA, software. This software allows security to tell if players and dealers are colluding.

Casinos even employ cryptographers and game theorists to assist with security efforts.

Here’s a fun fact: Casino employee uniforms are designed to deter theft. Sleeves are often kept short to prevent concealing chips, and pockets are either disallowed or covered with aprons.

craps dealer

Short sleeves and no pockets. Now, you know why.

Enjoy another glimpse into the past of Las Vegas.

casino security

Even that red discard tray is a security measure! They help security detect inks, or “daubs,” used to mark cards.

There’s something thrilling, and more than a little creepy, about walking in the footsteps of those early surveillance teams.

Back in the day, casinos often didn’t hand over unscrupulous employees or cheats to the police, preferring to deal with the issues internally. If you get our drift.

While some may pine for the early days of Las Vegas, we tend to prefer our kneecaps unbroken and our eyes unpopped out.

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Pink’s Closes at Planet Hollywood, Pin-Up Pizza Next, Making Way for Chick-fil-A

A fixture at Planet Hollywood, Pink’s Hot Dogs, has closed. A source says the closure of Pink’s is an initial step toward the arrival of Chick-fil-A. If the rumor pans out, this would be the first Chick-fil-a location on the Las Vegas Strip.

Pink’s, an import from California, opened at Planet Hollywood resort in August 2009.

Pink's Louie Anderson

Insert seemingly random photo of Emmy winner Louie Anderson at Pink’s Hot Dogs here.

A sign outside the now-closed Pink’s suggests customers make their way to another restaurant, Haute Doggery at the Linq Promenade.

Haute Doggery and Pink’s are both operated by Block 16 Hospitality and owner Billy Richardson. Richardson also owns Holstein’s at Cosmopolitan, Flour & Barley at Linq promenade, Barrymore at Royal Resort and Public House at Venetian.

Fun fact: Billy Richardson’s father, Bill Richardson, is construction manager of Resorts World. Las Vegas is a very small town.

Pink's Hot Dogs Las Vegas

Pink’s was founded by Paul and Betty Pink in 1939, when a hot dog cost 10 cents. The “Planet Hollywood” dog at Pink’s cost $8.25.

It’s estimated there were about 30 people employed at Pink’s Hot Dogs.

We hear Pin-Up Pizza, adjacent to Pink’s Hot Dogs, will also close at Planet Hollywood, but that has yet to be confirmed.

Pin-Up Pizza Las Vegas

We’re not entirely sure employees know the place could be closing, so let’s keep it between us.

Pin-Up Pizza opened in January 2014.

While there’s been no official announcement about what will replace Pink’s and Pin-Up Pizza, our source says these spaces will be absorbed into a footprint for the Las Vegas Strip’s first Chick-fil-A.

We first shared news of a Chick-fil-A location on The Strip back in April 2018, and the news nearly broke the Internet.

Chick-fil-A Planet Hollywood

Get. In. Our. Belly.

Again, Caesars Entertainment, which owns Planet Hollywood, has yet to confirm our story. Ditto Chick-fil-A.

Hey, Chick-fil-A is worth the wait.

It’s anticipated the Chick-fil-A at Planet Hollywood could be one of the chain’s most profitable locations, which is saying something given Chick-fil-A generates more revenue per restaurant than any other fast food chain in the country.

We’ll be keeping our eyes peeled for official news about Pin-Up Pizza, as well as long-awaited confirmation Chick-fil-A is finally coming to the Las Vegas Strip.

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Vital Vegas Podcast, Ep. 80: World’s Largest Orgy, Burlesque Hall of Fame and More

It’s the all-sex episode of the podcast you can definitely live without!

First up, we’ve got an exclusive interview with Kristy Auli of Menage Life, the organization hosting a record attempt for the world’s largest orgy. The event takes place June 2, 2018 at the Erotic Heritage Museum here in Las Vegas, and more than 1,000 people have already registered to take part.

We also chat with Dustin Wax, Executive Director of the Burlesque Hall of Fame, a popular attraction which recently expanded to a new location. Get the inside scoop on this organization devoted to “preserving burlesque as an artform and cultural phenomenon.”

Burlesque Hall of Fame

The Burlesque Hall of Fame’s address has changed, but the tease remains the same.

Of course, we couldn’t do an all-sex installment without sharing the latest about the upcoming Las Vegas march in honor of International Whores Day. Organizers say the event is a “day to assert collective power and make demands, such as advocating for sex work to be decriminalized. Read more.

Our “Listicle of the Week” is “10 Sexy Things in Las Vegas,” including the Green Door swingers club, dancing dealers at The D and Golden Gate, the Love Store, Sheri’s Ranch brothel, “Chippendales” at Rio and “Fantasy” at Luxor and more.

Hey, there’s a reason they call it Sin City. Take a listen and we promise a happy ending!

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Las Vegas Rally and March Planned for International Whores Day 2018

We are not making this up.

On, June 2, 2018, Las Vegas sex worker advocacy groups plan to march in honor of International Whores Day.

The day is in commemoration of the occupation of Saint-Nizier Church in Lyon, France, by more than 100 sex workers in 1975 to protest police brutality and exploited working conditions.

According to the Las Vegas groups, International Whores Day is celebrated internationally and is “a day to assert collective power and make demands.”

One of the demands is for sex work to be decriminalized.

International Whores Day Las Vegas

In Spanish, June 2 is called “Dia Internacional de la Trabajadora Sexual,” or International Day of the Sex Worker.

The march will also protest the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) and Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA) which became law on April 11, 2018.

Sex worker advocates assert that while these laws were originally framed as anti-trafficking, they are harming consensual sex workers and chilling free speech on the Internet.

The rally and march on June 2 will be preceded by workshops, including a protest safety workshop as well as “Know Your Rights” and “Political Outreach” workshops.

Affiliated organizations include Gender Justice Nevada, devoted to “changing law, policy, and attitudes so that all Nevadans can live safely, authentically and free from fear, violence and mistreatment regardless of their sex/gender identity or expression.”

Also taking part is Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP) Behind Bars, a group whose mission is to “create community for incarcerated sex workers.”

Vegas sex workers march

It’s a popular misconception prostitution is legal in Las Vegas. Believe that and you’re screwed.

From the artwork above, you may have noticed the red umbrella is an important symbol for sex worker rights. The International Committee on the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe (ICRSE) adopted the red umbrella as a symbol of resistance to discrimination in 2005.

On a completely unrelated note, another large event is happening in Las Vegas on June 2. Specifically, the world’s largest orgy.

Hey, they don’t call it Sin City for nothing.

Fan of sex workers? You’ll love our story about the Moonline BunnyRanch brothel.

Find out more about International Whores Day at the official Web site, a sentence we never imagined we’d be writing when we started this Las Vegas blog.

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Longtime LVCVA Boss Rossi Ralenkotter Rumored to Be Out

In one of the most boring stories, ever, unless you’re hardcore into Las Vegas, we’re hearing longtime CEO Rossi Ralenkotter is out at the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) after 45 years at the organization. He became CEO of the LVCVA in 2004.

Yeah, it’s still sort of boring even if you’re hardcore into Las Vegas. But scoop is scoop.

Rossi Ralenkotter has been at the helm of the LVCVA for a very long time, and his departure will mark the end of an era in Las Vegas.

Rossi Ralenkotter

There’s a chance that without Rossi Ralenkotter, you might never have visited Las Vegas. Not really, but just play along.

The LVCVA is a governmental agency and the “official destination marketing organization of Las Vegas.” The agency is funded by a hotel room tax.

Let’s just say the LVCVA is very well-funded. For example, it recently approved a $101.5 million advertising budget. Through the LVCVA’s longtime partnership with marketing agency R&R Partners, those ad dollars are spent on efforts like the recently-unveiled “Vegas Moments” campaign, below.

Rumors are the LVCVA has reached the end of its collective rope related to Ralenkotter’s recent scandals, chronicled relentlessly by the Las Vegas Review-Journal (more on that in a minute).

In one alleged scandal (not alleged that he did it, alleged that it’s a scandal), Ralenkotter used LVCVA security officers to drive him around town.

Most recently, Ralenkotter was accused of using $17,152 in airline gift cards given to the LVCVA for personal trips.

LVCVA

The LVCVA is so forward-thinking, it crosses its Gs.

Earth-shattering revelations, these are not.

Still, expect the Las Vegas Review-Journal to gleefully confirm our story and trumpet Rossi Ralenkotter’s departure from the LVCVA. We’re betting it gets space on the front page.

That’s because the Las Vegas Review-Journal is owned by bajillionaire Sheldon Adelson. Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands Co. operates the Sands Expo and Convention Center, a venue which competes with the LVCVA-operated Las Vegas Convention Center.

Ah, the glorious Las Vegas drama.

Sands Expo sign

Sheldon Adelson is a tad litigious, so we’ll just forego a funny caption this time.

We feel just horrible stealing the Review-Journal’s thunder by being the first to report this news. Just horrible.

There’s no denying the impact Rossi Ralenkotter has had on tourism in Las Vegas. Should rumors of his departure from the LVCVA prove to be true, it will be a very visible, symbolic shift in the organization.

The LVCVA has avoided taking the hit for 10 consecutive months of drops in Las Vegas visitation (“Monte Carlo is rebranding to Park MGM!”), but casino owners are no doubt looking at the LVCVA to shake things up and get those numbers back on track.

Rossi Ralenkotter has been a fixture in Las Vegas for decades, and has helped shape the world’s perception of our town. Here’s hoping he’ll get some well-deserved, Vegas-style hoopla on his way out.

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Downtown Las Vegas to Get New Welcome Arch, Probably

The City of Las Vegas recently revealed plans for a welcome arch to greet visitors to downtown.

The announcement of the “Las Vegas Gateway” project has caused a lot of confusion, so please don’t skim this story for a change.

A location for the downtown Las Vegas gateway arch hasn’t been determined yet, but it’ll be fancy.

Downtown Las Vegas gateway arch

Thankfully, Las Vegas drivers are known for their alertness and competency, so no worries about a dazzling welcome arch distracting them. Whatsoever.

The arch rendering was released following a City Council meeting where $60,000 was approved for property rights for the project, but not the arch part. Told you it’s confusing.

Additional confusion has resulted from the fact the artist that did the Las Vegas Gateway rendering took some liberties with the time-space continuum.

Here’s a look at the site in the arch rendering, described as a “work in progress” by those familiar with the project.

Downtown Las Vegas gateway arch

Nice try, renderer.

Officials don’t know where the arch is going, but it won’t go where the artist put it.

The most logical location for the arch is at the symbolic “entrance” to downtown from the Las Vegas Strip, at Sahara Ave. near the Bonanza Gift Shop.

Currently, there’s banner that runs across Las Vegas Blvd. welcoming people downtown.

Downtown Las Vegas welcome banner

Locals refer to this banner as Bruce. You wouldn’t like it when it’s angry.

So, that’s the arch part of the project.

The second component of the project is a display located a few blocks away from the current welcome banner, at the spot where Las Vegas Blvd. and Main Street meet.

This is not, as widely reported, the site of the former “Welcome to Downtown Las Vegas” sign. That sign was demolished by a drunken asshat in July 2016.

Let’s break this down, because the alternative is to have a life.

First, let’s look at the former site of the “Welcome to Downtown Las Vegas sign.” It’s boring, but could end up being where the new arch is installed. It’s at South 4th Street and Las Vegas Boulevard.

Downtown Las Vegas gateway arch

It’s rare when our photos capture so much not much.

Next, let’s look at the second part of the gateway project. It’s an homage to Las Vegas, featuring showgirls, chips, dice and a roulette wheel.

This display is definitely going where South Main Street and Las Vegas Blvd. connect. The address is 1830 S. Las Vegas Boulevard.

Downtown Las Vegas welcome sign

Quick, name the first five things you think of when you hear “Las Vegas,” including the words “Las Vegas.”

The funds approved by the City of Las Vegas were to acquire property rights for a corner of a Denny’s parking lot.

Yes, we took a photo. Do you know this blog at all?

Downtown Las Vegas gateway arch

Seriously, the things we do for you.

Here’s an overhead view of the site. The City has thoughtfully highlighted the space it’s purchasing the right to use for this new welcome display.

Downtown Las Vegas gateway arch

We are now, officially, boring ourself.

Now, here’s a map of where everything is in relation to everything else. Farthest north is the site of the former “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign. In the middle is the future site of the welcome display with the showgirls. Farthest south is the current welcome banner.

Downtown Las Vegas gateway arch

Thanks for helping us clear this up, Google Maps.

That’s where the downtown Las Vegas gateway project stands at the moment.

We’ve been told the designs for both the arch and the sidewalk display have been approved, but there’s no word on when they might be installed.

While these new welcome signs may not become iconic like the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign on the south end of The Strip, we’re a big fan of the concepts for the arch and over-sized gambling paraphernalia, so we can’t wait to see the finished product.

Suck it, drunken asshat.

Not you, the one who knocked over the welcome sign.

We asked you not to skim.

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