Cardless Casino Players Clubs

So many casinos – so many Players cards. I use to have a fanny pack in the 90’s that was full of them, from Vegas to Atlantic City.

At first, they were introduced for slot players to off-set the high house edge.  People were skeptical.  Why earn comps when you can just ask for comps?

According to Bill Burton of ThoughtCo.com,  “The “Slot Clubs” were born in Atlantic City in the early 1980’s when the casinos there were trying to find a way to keep players from hopping from one casino to the next. By offering a reward for their loyalty they were able to keep the player coming back.”  It worked. By 2000, most casinos had players club cards for all gamblers including table games, registering data that transformed gamblers play into complimentary eats, show tickets, and rooms. Life was good with a players card.

One of my first players club cards – Lady Luck in Las Vegas. Notice the divits used for the data – magnetic strips in back were not universal yet. Notice no name, no number!

Now, there is something new on the horizon, already in use out in Las Vegas – the Cardless Players Card!

What is Cardless Connect?

Red Rock Resort Casino

Red Rock Resort Casino Hotel, the Gem of Stations Casinos

The IGT Cardless Connect technology with Station Casinos enables a player to use their MyBoardingPass loyalty card without actually using a physical card. To use Cardless Connect, players simply download the STN app, sign into the account and tap the phone on the card reader at a slot machine. The phone will simply connect the player just as a physical loyalty card would so the player can experience all of the benefits of the loyalty program.

You must have a working 4G signal OR be connected to the casino Stations Wi-Fi, in this case Stations casino, in order to sign into the STN mobile application. You also need to have Bluetooth enabled; that’s how we connect you, so keep your phone close by the bezel or you might get carded out.  Forgot your card?  No problem!

You can also log in through kiosks with your mobile device by selecting the QR code in the Boarding Pass section of the Station Casinos app.

IGT Innovations

IGT was the pioneer in TITO – Ticket In, Ticket Out – technology that brought coinless machine play to casinos all over the country.  IGT is also the owner of the vast number of video poker machines in today’s casinos and has been a leader in Lotto technology. Now, they’re taking Rewards clubs to the next level.

A player sits down and points their phone at the gaming machine. Suddenly, the player display shows the player’s name and point balance. When the player leaves, the app automatically cards them out. No card? No problem! As long as you have your phone or mobile device with you (and who doesn’t!?), you’ll be able to connect.

 

Cardless Connect is in Barley’s Casino & Brewing Co. in Henderson, NV, just outside of Las Vegas and is the only Vegas casino to already have it installed. Stations will be installing it in two more of its casinos in the coming months.  How successful this will be with players is yet to be seen.

I remember when I thought the reality of coins in slots and video poker was real gambling – not this fake sound of coins hitting trough and a paper ticket.

Years later, with clean hands and no more hopper fills to wait for, I am convinced I was wrong – TITO was a great innovation.  Maybe this will become the next one.

Binbin

 

 

 

 

 

 

The players club display on the machine will show the player’s name and point balance as if the card were in use. When the player (and the phone) leaves the game, the app automatically cards them out. This is as simple as new mobile can be.

Based on the initial success of the Cardless Connect technology at Barley’s, Station Casinos plans to implement it at two more locations in Las Vegas later this year with the remaining properties to follow shortly after. Unfortunately, Station Casinos isn’t ready to divulge which casinos will are up next for Cardless Connect. Here’s what they did have to say about the future of using their players club card.

“We are committed to continuously delivering new benefits to our My Rewards Boarding Pass that bring value and convenience to our new and existing members,” said Staci Alonso, Station Casinos EVP and Chief Marketing & Innovation Officer. “IGT’s Cardless Connect technology adds meaningful value to the STN mobile app by allowing guests to use their phone to card in at their favorite slot game if they prefer a digital experience.”

“Station Casinos has been a phenomenal partner in our rollout of Cardless Connect technology,”said Nick Khin, IGT Chief Commercial Officer, North America Gaming & Interactive. “We evaluated multiple technologies and developed a flexible solution that supports Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) or QR code connectivity. From the initial phases of implementation to the excitement of the ‘go live’, the Station Casinos team has embraced Cardless Connect’s innovative features and BLE connectivity, which deliver a superior user experience.”

Cardless Connect is a great idea and should make visiting Las Vegas easier as more casino operators add the technology to their machines. The days of packing countless players club cards for a trip to Las Vegas may be over soon.

Don’t dump your players club cards just yet. This will only roll out to a few Station Casinos properties this year with more next year. While MGM Resorts has been testing Cardless Connect at MGM Grand in Detroit, they haven’t been any announced expansion of the technology into Las Vegas.

Kudos to Station Casinos for stepping out with this great technological advancement. Let’s hope others will follow soon.

Viva Las Vegas…..Our Thoughts and Prayers To It’s Visitors and Residents

The Las Vegas Strip

The Las Vegas Strip

At 6:30AM (EST) yesterday, I sat in my recliner, saddened and paralyzed as I watched the news concerning tragedy in Las Vegas.

It’s not that Houston, the Florida Keys, and especially Puerto Rico still didn’t need our attentions, but Las Vegas had meaning to me personally. I have visited more than 30 times over 20 years. It’s a place where you can escape, play, enjoy fine dining and great shows. It’s the place of great memories, bringing friends for their first taste of “Vegas.” I’ve stayed at over 30 different hotels, had great moments with friends and family, and seen some the greatest natural sites, such as the Hoover Dam, Red Rock Canyon, Valley of Fire, Mount Charleston and the Grand Canyon.

The carnage yesterday won’t change my feelings for the city, Clark County, the surrounding areas and its people. But today I am stopping to pray for those who were taken, hurt, or were related to the victims. My heart breaks for all involved. Thank God for the police and early responders.

Pray for the innocents. It’s been a rough fall across our country. There is no better place than Las Vegas to deal with change and tragedy. It overcame the 1980 fire in MGM Grand (now Bally’s) and the recession or 2007 – it will overcome this in time.

Viva Las Vegas.

Bin

Vegas, Baby, Vegas! – A Las Vegas Trip Report

Welcome to Las Vegas SignWondering where the NETG posts have been?  Well. 2/3’s of the staff was on the left coast doing some “research” in Las Vegas.  I know, it’s a long trip for the sake of the blog, but someone’s got to sacrifice at least once a year.  So, here’s some of Bert & Bin’s report in Las Vegas.  Of course, not all, because some of what happens in Vegas has to stay in Vegas!

Arriving at McCarran Airport mid-afternoon, we proceeded to check in at Bellagio – our first time at the resort that Wynn built, now owned by MGM.  Check-in was great, as was our entire stay at this fabulous property.  The surroundings, the dining, the amenities are all top notch. Best part of all is the service & hospitality.  Everyone was pleasant, helpful, friendly and wanted our stay to be a great one.  Bellagio exceeded all expectations in these regards.  I would stay there again in a Vegas minute.

Besides Bellagio, here are suggestions:

How To Start Your Next Vegas Trip

The beginning of a great Las Vegas Vacay – Ellis Island, east of the Strip

ELLIS ISLAND – We have found the perfect way to start a vacation in Vegas.  After check-in, drive (or Uber/Lyft) to Ellis Island Casino, Hotel & Brewery.  Originally opened in 1967, it became Ellis Island in 1985 and has been a locals and industry worker favorite behind the strip ever since. It’s brewery is fantastic with specials such as “every weekday for $1 beers whenever the temperature outside hits over 100 degrees.” Their special beer beer was a Summer Shandy Hefeweisen with added lemon & grapefruit.  Depending on the time of year, they also brew an adult ice tea and eggnog, while supplies last (which isn’t long!)  Gambling rules are much better than the strip.  Playing $5 blackjack (then raised to $10), with a “dealer bust” sidebet, I made almost $200 in an hour.  The dealers were friendly and fun.  Go check out their website, since they are adding onto this low budget casino and should be even better by next summer.  Other great offerings include terrific BBQ, a “secret steak special,” and karaoke.

Neon Lounge with fire-pit at Peppermill, north Strip.

PEPPERMILL – Part 2 to starting off a great Vegas vacation is moving the party to the Peppermill, “a timeless must-visit stop on the Las Vegas strip.”  If you miss the old neon sights of years ago, the Peppermill is for you.  One side is a restaurant featuring fabulous and huge omelets all day.  But at night, you MUST visit the lounge at least once. Peppermill Fireside Lounge is the brightest dark room you’ll ever see, or maybe it’s the darkest bright room. You’re surrounded by mirrors, faux trees, and neon, sitting on comfy red couches.  The south end of the room features a fire pit, with flames erupting from a pool of glowing white water.  Specialty cocktails complete the feel.  I enjoyed the Oatmeal Cookie, based with vanilla ice cream.  Our party of four all decided that it had to be an ELLIS ISLAND/PEPPERMILL start to every Las Vegas Trip

Entertainment Highlight

CHER at the MONTE CARLO – Let it be known that Cher is the only reason to go to Monte Carlo during it’s renovations to become Park MGM.  But what a show it was!  With very little speaking, a historical run of her hits is non-stop.  Of course, Cher is known for her lavish outfits and hair.  So, to make the 10 or so costume changes, there are interludes by the rest of the cast – some great, but others just seem to be Cirque knock-offs that don’t necessarily fit the show.  Cher, at the age of 70+, has not lost her knack for singing like a modern Ethel Merman, and sounded great, as well the band behind her.  I highly recommend this show, although it’s not inexpensive – over $100+…….  all ages will enjoy this show.

Cher opening her show at the Park Theater.

Two Buffets

BELLAGIO BUFFET – Expensive, but worth it.  NETG has eaten at all the best buffets – Wicked Spoon (Cosmo), Aria, Cravings (Mirage) and the Paris Buffet. Outside of the Caesars’s Bacchanal (which we have not tried and is incredibly expensive), Bellagio is the best value of the big buffets.

STUDIO B BUFFET at M Resort – The selection of foods served here, at any given time, is huge, and scrumptious.  During lunch and dinner, you’ll discover a corner bar where wine, beer and cider are served. A full range of soft drinks and fruit juices are available from the waitstaff, and meals can be capped off with a hot chocolate, espresso or Irish coffee from the barista.  But save room for dessert – miniature cupcakes, crème brûlées, lemon meringue pies, molten lava cakes and tiramisus share space with cookies, cannolis, éclairs, macaroons, three kinds of crêpes and homemade gelato.  If you are gambling there, gamble first. $300 in for slots and $450 for Video poker equals a free buffet.  That may sound like a lot, but playing slots for 30 – 40 minutes at $.60 to a $1 will easily do it.  (By the way, if you have dined at the Mohegan Sun Buffet, you will notice quite a resemblance.  It seems the Sun must have visited there before renovating their years ago!).  One major consideration – it’s on the far south end of Las Vegas Boulevard. Taxi, ride-share or driving is a must.

Downtown

Three nights were spent at what I consider the little underrated gem of downtown – MAIN STREET STATION Casino, Brewery & Hotel.  It’s Victorian decor, great gambling rules, and 777 Brewpub make it a delight for staying and playing.  It’s far enough away from the insanity of the Fremont Experience, and yet a short enough walk to anywhere downtown, including the Fremont East District and the El Cortez Casino & Hotel.  It’s scratch ticket promotion for video poker players is still a great play. For every 4-of-a-kind at max bet (any denomination), you receive a scratch-off that contains $1 – $5. In one night of player, I made an additional $20 on tickets alone.  While you play, you can order a craft beer from its brewery anywhere on the casino floor, and during happy hour, 16 oz. is only $250!  One of the many nation-wide Boyd properties, this is a low-roller delight.  Great room promotions are available to Boyd card members for much less play than on the Strip.

Beautiful, calm, and classy for an exquisite dining experience – Andiamo at The D, Downtown Las Vegas

ANDIAMO STEAKHOUSE at THE D – premium American steaks and irresistible Italian favorites are what you can expect at Andiamo.  I ate the best 8 0z. filet ever!  A classic Vegas Steakhouse with a quiet, classy atmosphere.  Don’t be fooled by it’s location downtown, it IS one of the best Vegas steakhouses, hands down.  Our party decided to end our vacation at Andiamo, and it was the perfect finale to a week of highlights.  It is expensive, but worth every penny.

Leaving Las Vegas – usually a quiet plane ride.

 

So, that was Vegas, 2017 for NETimeGambling.

It’s tough work, but somebody’s got to do it.  Ciao!

Binbin

 

Paid Parking at Casinos IS Different From Other Entertainment

I can’t understand the acceptance of paid parking at casinos in Las Vegas.  Sure it’s going to happen sooner or later, but to accept the premise of it so easily, rattles me to the core.

This is not an indictment of MGM, even though it has a middle school tone to say “well, they started it!”  To accept it’s happening is inevitable, but to compare the casino industry to all other forms of entertainment is false. Let’s visit the rationale for free parking.

On the Strip, it’s paid parking at all MGM, Caesars properties, as well as Cosmopolitan. Atlantic City has had paid parking for years, but at $5 and free pass for next garage.

WELL, EVERYBODY ELSE DOES IT!

If you visit other entertainment venues – stadiums, concerts, amusement parks – parking is paid for, and many times at a high price.  So why not when you visit a casino?  This is what the mayors of major cities, owners of professional sports and now casino operators are citing for reason that a tradition of free parking at casinos should change.

According to the annual Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority poll, in 2016, the average bankroll for a 3 1/2 day trip is barely over $600, or $200 per day.  According to one Strip operator, staying at a mid-level casino/resort will cost about $20 per day of your stay.  That is 10% of the average bankroll spent on parking at the hotel you are staying at!  Most hotels have free parking when you stay in them, don’t they?

WHY IS CASINO PAID PARKING DIFFERENT?

Here’s why:

When you pay for the parking at these venues, those behind the entertainment give you exactly what you paid for.  But a casino’s entertainment (gambling) involves the “House Edge.”  Remember the house edge?  It refers to the fact that when you enter the casino, visitors who gamble are already losing money for their visit, the question is how much.

Simple House Edge

Simple House Edge

When you go to a concert in a major city, usually the paid parking is taken care of by a different entity other than the entertainment itself, not those supplying the entertainment. But check out this scenario:

How would you feel if after paying for parking, paying for food, paying for drink (yes that’s coming to a casino near you also, my friends) that you sat down only to realize that the ticket you paid for might not be for the entire show and encore!  At any given time with your $50 ticket, an usher would come over and ask for more money (added bankroll) or you were done watching this show. Would you buy that ticket knowing ahead of time you had a chance of only seeing 75-80% of the show (penny slots), 90-98% of the show (video poker, table games) or missing the last song & encore?

That’s the difference.  Free parking, as well as free drinks, was part of the balance for gamblers dealing with the house edge. Remember, the second you enter a casino, YOU ARE AT A DISADVANTAGE!

It’s not enough that the house advantage continues to bite at the ankles of the casino’s patrons, casinos are using more tactics to nickel and dime us to our bankroll’s quicker death – 6/5 Blackjack, three zero roulette, carnival games with high house advantage, diminishing video poker pay tables, lower slot payouts, less free odds in craps – WHEN WILL IT STOP?

JUST TAKE UBER OR LYFT

Taxi line at Las Vegas McCarran Airport to take you….wherever.

When I visit Las Vegas, I rent a car.  Many people do.  For over twenty years, I have navigated my way around the Strip, I-15, and around the surrounding communities like Summerlain, Henderson, and North Las Vegas.  For $200  I get a car for 5 days, I get control of my life and control of what casino to visit – and how long.  Go ahead, wait for your ride-share, pay twice – or even thrice a day that I do and tell me it doesn’t come close to the same price for the week.  One taxi ride is the cost of one day rental for me – and I don’t have to depend on a smelly car and high prices to take me where I want to go.

But paid parking? Another attempt to keep you there, to pay for your…..well everything……and entertain yourself gambling at the house edge.  The longer you stay, the longer the house edge works against you, the more your pay for parking, and the more you kid yourselves that “it’s OK, everyone else is doing it.  It’s the price you pay for entertainment.”  Hey, Mr. Oblivious, go read above in this post about HOUSE EDGE!

CASINO INDUSTRY RATIONALE

Finally, I will end with an explanation of paid parking by a well-known casino……. I mean resort…….giant who happens to own casinos across America.  If you figure out who it is, please keep in mind the rest of the casino industry is looking to follow suit.  And I’m not “lion.”

Parking at Cosmopolitan, or is it MGM? Caesars?

“At (fill in the name), our goal is to provide convenient, safe and secure parking for all of our guests. We are investing in new parking technologies that create a better parking experience for visitors to any of our Las Vegas resorts. These investments will ensure that our facilities are bright, clean and easier to navigate than ever before. Whether you are visiting for a few hours or for a few days, parking at any of our (fill in the destination) resorts should be easy and convenient for all.”

With a show of hands, how many of you feel that all the money collected in parking at America’s casinos is being collected with the casino “guest” in mind?   Raise your hands nice and high……..

Hmmm, not many……just what I thought……….

 

Binbin

13 Essential Gambling Websites

Rated #37 in 2017

By the way, NETimeGambling was recognized last year as the one of the top 75 Gambling Blogs, rated at #37. Our following has doubled every year, and in September of 2017, we were added to the TravelZork Team with a monthly post about New England Casino News, Events, Promotions and more.

Mark Gruetze of the Tribune-Review, or Trib-Live, posted an article last year about websites for Gambling fans.  It’s a great list, with some additions from your favorite Northeast gambling blog.

Many gambling websites cater to either beginners, AP’s (Advantage Players) or a special place.  There is a plethora of Las Vegas websites, for example, and caution is suggested since many Vegas websites are driven by entertainment and dining sales.

One thing is for sure, if you like swapping gambling stories, or gambling strategy, there are plenty of sites out there to help you.

Mark lists his favorites below.  You will also see NETimeGambling’s suggestions added as well.

General Las Vegas

Welcome to Las Vegas Sign

“An original: Las Vegas Advisor, the brainchild of Blackjack Hall of Fame member Anthony Curtis, started in 1983 as a monthly newsletter, focusing on all things Vegas for people looking to get the most from Sin City through smart gambling and cut-rate deals. The recently updated website, www.lasvegasadvisor.com, features an encyclopedic guide to any type of Las Vegas offering, including 27 restaurant categories plus details on casino buffets; a rundown of shows and concerts; and blogs by gambling experts including Jean Scott, James Grosjean and Bob Dancer. A subscription, which costs $37 or $50 a year, gets you the monthly newsletter either online or hard copy, plus an annual Las Vegas coupon book that can easily cover the subscription cost and access to online forums.”

TravelZork – Complete with Vegas news, travel reports, loyalty program & hotel reviews.  A Vegas travel site within an up-and-coming travel site.

VitalVegas.com – owned and operated by Scott Roeben, who happens to be the Interactive Marketing Manager for the Freemont Street experience.

EatingLV.com – run by John Curtas, this is one of the quintessential blogs for foodies visiting Las Vegas and features numerous reviews and write ups of everything food.

Cheapo Vegas  – Around for years, it’s your guide to Las Vegas on the cheap.

The Vegas Solo! This is THE website for solo travelers headed to Las Vegas. What you’ll find on this website are pages of information to help you plan your solo trip to Vegas.

Las Vegas Advisor, For nearly 30 years, Anthony Curtis and his team have provided hundreds of thousands of visitors with all the information they need to get more out of Vegas than it gets out of them.

Playing strategy and advice

Blackjack Strategy Card

www.wizardofodds.com, started in 1997 by current adjunct professor of casino math Michael Shackleford. Shackleford sold his site in 2014 but remains the main content supplier. WizardOfOdds offers the best strategies for virtually every casino game…. The free site includes odds calculators that account for rule variations in blackjack and other games.

www.888casino.com/blog, operated by the world’s largest online gaming venue.  The 888 blog, also free to all, is relatively new but boasts an impressive lineup, including Henry Tamburin’s “Ultimate Blackjack Guide” and the AP Heat blog by gambling mathematician Eliot Jacobson, which analyzes ways that advantage players can attack a variety of games. The content gets updated frequently.”

GamblingSites, a trusted guide to help ensure safe online gambling and betting, they also rovide an abundance of gambling-related advice and information, written by experienced and knowledgeable experts. We cover sports betting, casino gaming, poker, bingo, daily fantasy sports and more.

Poker News, PokerNews.com is the world’s leading poker website. Among other things, visitors will find a daily dose of articles with the latest poker news, live reporting from tournaments, exclusive videos, podcasts and so much more.

Casino City Times – Gaming Gurus like Frank Scoblete, John Grochowski, Jerry Stickman, and John Robinson (only to name a few) have hundreds of posts for game strategy, facts & suggestions for all games and all players.  Their archives are listed as well, which include a wealth of information.

Casino news

www.cdcgamingreports.com provides news stories and analysis by its own writers and aggregates reports from publications throughout the United States. For a scholarly approach, check it out.

The Center for Gaming Research site, gaming.unlv.edu, fathered by Dr. David Schwartz at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas is a fantastic source for “casino math…..casino revenue figures from across the country, [&] offers podcasts and publishes research papers such as “Of the Rat Pack, Ashtrays, Cocktail Napkins and Grateful Losers: The Making of the Las Vegas Experience as a Historical Process in the 20th Century” and “Elvis Who? Understanding, Attracting and Retaining the Next Generation of Las Vegas Customers.”  Dr. Dave also has publishes some of the most amazing historical resources of the recent decade with  Roll the Bones: The History of GamblingSuburban Xanadu: The Casino Resort on the Las Vegas Strip and Beyond, Cutting the Wire: Gaming Prohibition and the Internet, and Grandissimo: The First Emperor of Las Vegas.

Dr. Dave Scwartz, Professor at UNLV

World Casino News – As well as great content, it includes information concerning casinos from all over the world.  Just ignore the onlinje commercials if that’s your thing.

Casino.Org – Latest Gambling & Casino News. Discover the important stories from around the world since 1995.

There are many specialty gaming sites on the net, and Mark lists a few in those areas. However, there are many sites for newbies and AP’s for all games – table, carnival, slots & video poker.  It would be a good idea to check out forums in each area you are interested in and ask for the preferred sites.  Let the experts in the forums lead you to the best advice on a particular game.

For the entire article by Mark Gruetze, just click on the title below. It’s a great article.

“Gambling fans should bookmark these websites”

That post should keep you busy for a while!

Binbin

Las Vegas – No Christmas Cheer, Just More Scrooge

Please note the personal disclosure at the bottom of this post.  It explains a lot.scrooge      Bah Humbug! That’s what I am increasingly SEEING ON THE Las Vegas Strip!

Oh, I get it.  The “suits” in Vegas are going to raise prices as the market dictates.

Oh, I understand – things change, blah, blah, blah…..but it doesn’t mean I have to bend over and take it without a rant or two!

Jim Murren and MGM Resorts

Jim Murren & MGM Resorts, who started the paying to park theme.

I would like to thank MGM, Caesars, and all the other Casinos to follow with the policy of picking your visitor’s pockets as much as you can. It has given me the rage to step back and look at the situation.  Here in New England, we have casinos for every desire – even two (three,   counting the future Wynn Boston Harbor) that rival anything on the strip, without the fees, free drinks, 5 star dining, enough “oonze” and clubs to get your groove on, fantastic entertainment, including that offered in the Mohegan Sun’s “Arena of the Year” the last five out of eight years AND free self & valet parking.  You can visit Foxwoods & Mohegan Sun in a few years when you want to remember what the Vegas Strip used to be like.  Hell, within the 6 hours it takes to get to Vegas (and that’s a non-stop) I can drive to AC, New York’s Turning Stone, even a little farther to Maryland Live!, let alone the seven casinos in New England.

Caesars EntertainmentThis week it was reported that Caesars will now charge for parking, and now Cosmopolitan, after MGM CEO businessman (he’s no gambling buddy) Jim “PGP” Murren started this whole mess earlier this year, saying other cities charge for parking and it would provide his guests with a better experience.  Bull*&$%!

Now, all the other Strip properties will charge for parking, eventually even the malls, single restaurants, etc……right down the line because people will park where it’s free – even at the 7-Eleven. Why? Because there won’t be enough parking for their own guests with everyone trying to skirt around the issue of paying for parking – paying even if they are staying as a guest!

Don’t you Vegas “nerds” and “fanatics” realize that you pay for free parking with the “house edge” already?  Other cities’ parking garages don’t have casinos attached to them – that’s why they charge.

I can hear it already from those of you who live on the west coast, or even in the midwest, where flights don’t cost an arm or a leg – “then, just don’t go! More for us!” And you’re correct, I don’t have to put up with:

  • a flight that takes 6-10 hours
  • drunks, panhandlers, old men in diapers, time-share buskers, and the largest group of pretentious, ill-behaved, inconsiderate people in a single city in the worlddownload
  • paying for self-parking, paying for valet parking, maybe in the future even paying for the valet lobby time while waiting for the valet to bring you your car – just like in taxis, the longer you wait, the higher the meter goes

    MGM Properties already initiated paying to park.

    MGM Properties already initiated paying to park.

  • terrible gambling – need I say more craps players, VP players, blackjack players, roulette players, (really?, triple zero now initiated at Sands properties?)download-1
  • free drink coupons at bartops you have to EARN where the video poker tables rival the worst pay tables in the country
  • resort fees recently raised, AGAIN!
  • ghost fees at restaurants – fees added to your bill that imply there was something else done to make your meal betterimages-1
  • buffet prices you need to take out a loan for, or a second
    Anyone remember these on the interstates?  Could be coming to a strip casino near you!

    Anyone remember these on the interstates? Could be coming to a strip casino near you!

    mortgage

  • paid toilet use (oh, sorry, that’s in the near future)

For all of you Vegas Fans who don’t rent a car and visit from outside the southwest – those of you who laud Uber & Lyft – just remember your rationale of “what the economy dictates.”  Less visitors driving means more Uber & Lyft users which means prices will rise until Uber & Lyft are mirroring a taxi cost – just without the taxi smell.

lost-wagesSo you’re right – I don’t have to go to “Squeeze every penny out of ’em ‘Vegas’.”  And as the options dwindle for the low to mid-roller, and the costs rise until they can’t rise anymore (or until the next recession, God forbid), my visits to “Lost Wages” will decrease as well.

The options?  Any non-MGM/Caesars property in Biloxi, AC, or in New England’s 10 casinos within a 6 hour drive – spending my money in my local economy.  And I won’t have to put up with badly-dressed superheroes hawking you for a picture and money to get inside those casinos.


Please note, this post reflects the frustration and disappointment in Las Vegas – the city I used to consider the best place in the world.  My personal jury on that feeling is now convening. FYI – That fact is, I have loved Las Vegas for over 20 years of visiting. But friends, I have no podcast to verbally express myself like so many of my favorite Las Vegas podcasters – Tim & Michele Dressen of “Five Hundy by Midnight,” Mark Mark Wojtowicz at “360 Vegas,” , Chuckmonster at VegasTripping, Mark & Dr. Mike at “You Can Bet On That”, Scott Roeben at Vital Vegas, Tony Snyder at “The Vice Lounge Online,” and Vegas Gang, Vegas Bright & Vegas Fanboy.  

So here is how I feel this morning, waking up to a Las Vegas that I feel is getting farther & farther away from what a gambling destination means to me.  All you Vegas lovers out there, please read this with an open mind and leave your rebuttals and bias at the door.  I have my right to this rant and these opinions.  You may not agree, but please respect the following post as I respect your views.

Binbin

NE TimeGambling.com

 

No Free Drinks For Slot Players?

Notice drink vouchers from TI. in Las Vegas

Notice drink vouchers from TI. in Las Vegas

What’s next – a voucher for a 6oz. bottle-ette of water?

Vital Vegas just reported that free drinks while playing slots may be a thing of the past soon.

A few days ago I posted  Video Poker Free Drinks One More Thing to Take Away From Players?  It seems casinos feel they have it soooooo bad, they must take away historic perks to make up for their own  mismanagement.

Scott Roeben of Vital Vegas

Scott Roeben of Vital Vegas

According to Scott Roeben of Vital Vegas, an MGM representative said the company is pilot-testing a paper voucher comp-validation system on slot machines at MGM Grand and the Lobby Bar at the Mirage in Las Vegas.  Yes, this is same wonderful group that started their PGP (profit-growth-plan) to find where they can make better business decisions to make more money.  Only, this initiative comes out of the pockets of the same people they keep in business with. Yes MGM, the group that gave you crappy gambling rules, the first to charge for parking, the first to make VP players earn their drink, and now about to make any player pay for their drink no matter their game of choice.

MGM Springfield Casino Entrance

MGM Springfield Casino Entrance

Remember my fellow New Englanders, this is the casino giant building MGM Springfield – MGM Resorts International.  Is this the kind of hospitality and gambling we can expect?

In Scott’s article  “Free drinks for slot play? Not so fast” others climb in on why it’s necessary.  As the president of Raving Consulting Co., Dennis Conrad consults with casinos across the country. He says automating comps might be an attempt to improve customer service by ensuring people entitled to comps get them. And it might also be a way to get rid of freeloaders and even reduce theft. Regardless of the reasons for implementing them, automated systems could create new problems.There needs to be some training and communicating the facts of why we’re doing this and how, if you’re a good player, there’s nothing to worry about,” Conrad said.

One thing I don’t hear from anyone it seems is the fact that 99% of all gamblers are already paying out of their pocket – it’s called the HOUSE EDGE!!!!

Here's that 6 oz. root beer you earned after the last half hour of play.  Congratulations!

Here’s that 6 oz. root beer you earned after the last half hour of play. Congratulations!

Why is it that if gambling revenue is decreasing, and all these stop gap moves to eliminate internal business problems are being implemented, these masterminds of casinos can’t see the real reason why there’s less gambling going on.  A players bankroll doesn’t last anymore because of 6/5 blackjack, less free odds at craps, low % slots, video poker pay tables that SUCK, and the latest 0, 00, and yes 000 at some casino roulette wheels!

Long Live New England Casinos.  May they stay away from the greedy take-aways that people see out west.  Maybe people will come to New England for some of the best gambling in the U.S.  If they play their cards right, 10 casinos can be one destination – a little something for everyone.

 

Las Vegas, Nevada Is Great – But New England Casinos Offer A Lot As Well

Las Vegas Strip

Las Vegas Strip, looking north, on a beautiful weekday morning.

If anyone who frequently visits Las Vegas, will tell you about the clubs, the shows, the buffets, the shopping, the immensity of the hotels, etc. The fact is, gambling as the number one reason to visit Las Vegas has decreased.  It’s the experience, the late night events that research shows as the main reasons for vacationing in Vegas. Good gambling options especially on the Strip are far & few between, become a thing of the past.

Don’t get me wrong – Las Vegas is my favorite place in the world.  And if you look for it, Las Vegas offers good gambling – you just have to look for it. To someone that loves Vegas as much as I do, there are some very annoying, if not aggravating, things about the place these days.  My wife and I have witnessed the expansion of “Sin City” over the last twenty years – both the good and not so good. We remember the old Vegas, trying to transition from to corporation and ownership and the famous themes with the development of three-wing hotels on the strip.

Las Vegas in the 70's

Las Vegas in the 70’s.  Courtesy of EarlyVegas.com

We paid our dues in those beginning years – staying at the Hacienda (imploded for the building of Mandalay Bay), Riviera (recently razed for the convention center), and Lady Luck Downtown (closed for years, now Downtown Grand).  Some of our best memories include:download (1)

  • stopping to spin for free airfare at Vacation Village
  • drinking great brews  at the “Holy Cow” (a CVS now) across from the Sahara (which is now SLS) before the craft-beer-brewing craze
  • the first time we drove through Red Rock Canyon without seeing the urban sprawl.  Roads to Summerlain weren’t even completed.

    Remember the days of casino trips with coupon books?

    Remember the days of casino trips with coupon books?

  • getting “fun books” at places like Lady Luck, Casino Royale
  • seeing our first and THE FIRST Cirque du Soleil show on the strip “Mystere” for the first time
  • finding 9/6 JOB almost everywhere
(Still wondering what this has to do with New England Casinos?  I’m getting to it.)

But, I’m afraid some of the fun just doesn’t exist like that anymore, or at least what I consider fun. It’s changed.  Parking fees, ghost taxes at restaurants, resort fees, show prices usually around three figures – all cut into the vacationer’s bankroll, after they are playing games with larger house edge.  Just like Ellington said in the 40’s, “Things Ain’t What They Used to Be.”

But that is what businesses do – they continue to evolve.  So, we have to continue to look for different experiences to “float our boat” because nothing stays the same – especially in Las Vegas.

Cosmo at night.

Cosmo at night.

Last week I was in suites at Cosmopolitan for 4 days and Westgate (the old Las Vegas Hilton) for 2 days.  It was a great time.  We look forward to new things now – lunch at Giada’s, great draft beer at Banger Brewing, and the best donuts ever at Donut Bar.  What does this have to do with gambling in New England?

But, I’m glad to be back. To be honest, the pay tables and % payback in New England are comparable to the Strip (check Casino Player’s monthly stats), if not better and it doesn’t cost an arm & and a leg to get here, never mind pay for parking like MGM Las Vegas and Atlantic City. It’s Vegas style gaming with some of the amenities that are now lacking in Sin City.  

The future continues to be promising for New England Casinos.

  • MGM Springfield completed by 2019
  • Oxford Casino, Maine will have two hotels available, one attached to the casino.
  • Wynn Boston Harbor – completed by late 2019
  • New Tiverton Casino in Rhode Island replacing Newport Grand
  • Twin River Casino building a hotel….eventually.
  • Maybe a third casino in Connecicut
  • Mohegan Sun adding  the new “Earth Hotel” late this year.

NewEnglandFINALSo, I guess the point is simple: drive less, pick your games wisely, use the NE Casinos’ bonuses and special offers during the holiday season and enjoy your recreational gambling closer to home – as well as the great entertainment, dining, and hotels they have to offer.

And FOLLOW NETimeGambling.com for complete coverage of New England’s Casinos and Gambling topics in general.  Comment on our posts, sign up for email post sent to you every day.  This is the place to be!

Binbin

Las Vegas Continues to Evolve Away from Gambling

Las Vegas SignLast week, NETimeGambling continued it’s casino visits for the summer, taking it on the road and flying to a destination like no other – Las Vegas.

Las Vegas is like New England weather – it can change in a minute.  When visiting Vegas only once each year, the changes can be HUGE.

Gone since our last visit – the Riviera, Las Vegas Club, La Bayou, Mermaids (and their “fried oreos”).

Fried Oreos at Mermaids for $2.99 - gone.

Fried Oreos at Mermaids for $2.99 – gone.

New – Lucky Dragon Casino, SLS, The Park – MGM’s answer to Caesars “The Linq.” MGM’s T-Mobile Arena is a great addition for large performances and events.  It’s curious to find numerous food chains popping up in the same city that showcases some of the best chef’s of the day. What’s even curious? – by next year, Las Vegas will have it’s first NHL Hockey team, and the Oakland Raiders may have decided to move their franchise to Las Vegas as well.T-Mobile Arena Las Vegas

What continues to be seen is worse gambling odds as good gambling chances continue to fall – less full pay Video Poker, lower free odds in Craps, more 6:5 Blackjack and more electronic tables games.  Compared to the Las Vegas Strip casinos, you can find better video poker and table games at Mohegan Sun & Foxwoods in CT, and better slot % payouts at Twin River Casino (RI) and Plainridge Park(MA).

The Las Vegas Strip

The Las Vegas Strip

But, no where in the world is there a place like Las Vegas  where anyone can enjoy it all!  Great gambling if you look for it, some of the best restaurants, great craft brewers and drinks made to order, and the best in entertainment – single performances, residencies or shows lasting years. The innovations in food, drink, and hotel amenities are astounding.  Where else can you:

  • Enjoy the best donuts (like the Pop Tart S’mores donut) at Donut Bar, Downtown.

    S'mores Pop Tart Donut

    S’mores Pop Tart Donut

  • Eat a decadent sorbet/gelato dessert at Giada’s – and maybe meet the Food Network Star herself.
  • Enjoy three Zip line rides, as well as three rides atop the highest free standing structure west of the Mississippi River at the Stratosphere.
  • Enjoy a Mac & cheese waffle!
  • See Celine, Elton, JayLo, Britney, …even the Beegees & Michael Jackson.
  • choose to see any of six Cirque Du Soleil shows, one even dedicated to the music of the Beatles.

    Beatles Love - Cirque Du Soleil at its best.

    Beatles Love – Cirque Du Soleil at its best.

There is so much to do and see in Las Vegas besides gambling. We have visited Las Vegas for over 25 years.  We even stayed in the places like the Hacienda Hotel & Casino – before it was imploded for Mandalay Bay in the 90’s.Hacienda Las VegasIf you are interested in visiting Las Vegas – either for the first time or for the 21st time – contact me.  “Binbin Travel” used to be our nickname, since we always loved to take “Vegas newbies” to the desert with us.  Send me your questions or specific suggestions.

I will look forward to hearing from you.

Binbin

 

Commentary: Will New England Gaming Follow the Sad Affairs in Las Vegas?

Welcome to Las Vegas SignLas Vegas is one of my favorite places in the whole world.  For some of us, it captures the our imagination and interests like no other city.

But it, like much of the gambling is changing – and not for the better as far as I am concerned.  Humor me while I tell you why…..

Las Vegas, “the Meadows” the gambling mecca. It’s called many things with no gray area implied:

The Las Vegas Strip

The Las Vegas Strip

Sin City or the Adult Disneyland, Lost Wages or Home away from Home, Heaven or Sodom & Gomorrah. Whatever it means to you after your initial visit, it sticks with you.  For some of us, we love the experience, and it does become our favorite vacation, even an obsession.

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“The Outsiders’ Guide to Las Vegas” is All You Need to Visit Sin City

Outsiders Guide to Las Vegas

Going To Las Vegas?

Every once in a while, our thoughts of jackpots, fine food, and great entertainment drift from New England casinos to the greatest city for adults in the world – Las Vegas, Nevada.

Welcome to Las Vegas SignIf you haven’t ever visited, or if you haven’t visited for a while, you will be overwhelmed with what Las Vegas is now.  So, you will undoubtedly search the net, talk to friends and try to get that inside information to make your Vegas Vacation a exciting, value-packed and memorable event of a lifetime.  Even those of us who have taken the long journey from the east coast to “Vegas” many times are filled with the same child-like anticipation every time you arrive.

Well, many times that “inside information” is a bunch of hooey.  It’s usually the same “travelogue” crap you get from travel books, magazines, and internet sights. Well, there’s a better, no bull, alternative to preparing for your vacation – Tim Dressen’s “The Outsiders’ Guide to Las Vegas.”

Before I continue on, here’s the link to buy the book so you can start ordering it NOW – it’s that good.

“Outsiders’ Guide to Las Vegas”

fhbm-a-640x480Tim explains the books approach best, saying “obsessive Las Vegas visitors offer more trustworthy suggestions and accurate insights about the Las Vegas Strip and Fremont Street. An unapologetic Las Vegas outsider, author Tim Dressen shares advice, hints, and unfiltered opinions gathered as cohost of Five Hundy by Midnight, the Original Las Vegas Podcast, for more than a decade. (The podcast link to right has been supported since the beginning of this blog.) With the same irreverent spirit as the podcast, The Outsiders’ Guide to Las Vegas is packed with useful information, entertaining perspectives, and more than a few off-the-rails rants. This is the Las Vegas guide by an outsider, inspired by outsiders, and for outsiders.”

Yes, it’s all he describes it as – irreverent, unapologetic, and unfiltered.

But, you know what, he and his lovely wife Michelle have a perspective of Las Vegas that is blunt, matter of fact and will provide the truth about so many of your trip’s most important parts, including preparation and choosing a hotel, a no frills look at Vegas hotels on the Strip and Downtown,  and suggestions for drinking, dining, drinking, entertainment, and, well…..drinking.

This book is not for the faint of ear.  But it’s as if Tim were right there with you – an easy read, full of humor, sarcasm, “snarkiness” and a good dose of “colorful” language (if you know what I mean.)

Tim Dressen

Tim Dressen

Ok, here is where I would give some background on Tim & Michelle, their fabulous podcast, and their vast experience in the world’s greatest gambling, dining, and entertainment city.  But, why – this review is really all about the book.  If you need a new resource for your next Las Vegas trip, and you know what Las Vegas is like, then tthis is your next purchase.  Fact is, this is now a staple in my Vegas library.

My favorite parts are:

  • his comments on why taking kids to Las Vegas is ridiculous, but includes advice if you do.
  • opinions about each hotel on the Strip and Downtown – good and bad (he calls them Jackpot or Tilt)
  • travel suggestions for Vegas – tipping, cab fares, Uber, and time-management
  • and, the coolest list of a “Vegas-themed” songs.

It’s available in Paperback, or e-book.  Soon, it will be available as an audio book.

C’mon, what are you waiting for?  Start studying for your next trip to Gambling Mecca with “Outsiders’ Guide to Las Vegas”

Binbin

 

 

Las Vegas Faves – Trip Report 8/2015

Las Vegas SignEvery once and a while, we need to visit the gambling destination of ALL gambling destinations – Las Vegas!  And, after a little gaming R&R outside of New England, I have lots to share.

Since the usual NETG’s Super Seven Promotions were missed yesterday (let’s just blame jet lag and sheer laziness), I thought I would share my Super Seven of my Las Vegas trip, in Letterman style, starting from #7 to #1.  I won’t be listing the usual highlights of any visit to Vegas – Bellagio Fountains, the top buffets, the best Cirque shows, etc.  Instead, these are things to do for those frequent Vegas visitors as well as the Vegas Novice. I hope you enjoy.

th

Macarran Airport Car Rental Building. Easy Shuttled back and forth from airport, most Car Rental companies at the same place.

#7 – Renting a car.  If you have gone to Las Vegas often, renting a car just quadruples your possibilities.  The independence coming and going as you please gives me a real comfort level.  But, it isn’t for the faint of heart.  You need to know how to get there, possible worst travel times (on I-15 and LV Boulevard for example) and know the ways of getting around with the least amount of traveling the Strip. This is DEFINITELY a NON-DRINKING ACTIVITY – at least for the driver!

#6 – Seeing a show.  I suggest for the beginner Cirque’s “Mystere” or if you are not offended easily, see “Absinthe.”  For those who have seen most of the best shows over many years, try something new.  th (1)We saw Olivia Newton-John at the Flamingo.  Great show of all her hits, great LIVE band, no lip-syncing and even a singalong of songs from “Grease.”  Great fun.

Now, let’s be more specific!

#5 – Giada’s (at Cromwell) for lunch.

Spacious and beautiful. Giadas is a must visit.

Spacious and beautiful. Giadas is a must visit.

Not too busy and still tables with a great view of the Strip.  Leave room for the gelato/sorbet dessert that includes dark chocolate & toasted banana gelato with white chocolate & raspberry sorbet.  Fantastic!

#4 – Bam-Boozled Shakes at Holstein’s in The Cosmopolitan.th (3) Check out the possibilities: COFFEE & DONUTS – COFFEE ICE CREAM, CAKE DONUT, MALT, KAHLUA, CHOCOLATE ESPRESSO BEA, VEGAN COCONUT RASPBERRY SHAKE – COCONUT SORBET, RASPBERRIES, SKYY RASPBERRY VODKA, 3OLIVES COCONUT VODKA, TOASTED COCONUT MARSHMALLOW, SOY WHIPPED TOPPING (This was the talk of the table!).  For me, I had to have my sweet tooth dazzled, and it was with th (4)PECAN TURTLE CHEESECAKE – CHEESECAKE, CARAMELIZED PECANS, CARAMEL SAUCE, DARK CHOCOLATE PIECES, CHOCOLATE SWIRL, STOLI SALTED CARAMEL VODKA. These are large, fun to share and a lunch in itself!

#3 – The Sausage & Stout Pizza at PIZZA ROCK, Downtown Las Vegas. pizza-rock Outstanding pizza made with Honey Malted Guinness Beer Dough for a crust out this world.  At a Jalapeno Ale from Banger brewing made just a block away for the perfect lunch or dinner.

th (5)

SLS – previously known as the Sahara

#2 – Maple bacon sweet potato fries or the Korean sweet potato fries (can you say “kimchi.”) at UMAMI BURGER, SLS Hotel Casino (North Strip).  Big portions with a taste you will never forget and I would imagine never find anywhere else.

Maple Bacon Fries at Umami Burger

Maple Bacon Fries at Umami Burger

Also, the burgers are some of the best in Vegas with a great beer menu of IPA’s and Belgium styles.

 

 

 

AND, THE #1 HIGHLIGHT OF MY VEGAS VACATION?  (This is where a car helps)

Mac & Cheese Waffle at ANDIRON STEAK & SEA in Summerlain, in the new development next to Red Rock Resort. It was definitely something I will order again….and again! Featured on the Food Channel, they described it as “Every morsel is filled with cheesy decadence. After the mac and cheese is cooled, it gets a quick breading, then it’s cooked in a waffle iron until it’s golden on the outside and gooey on the inside.”

Outrageous Mac & Cheese Waffle at Andiron Steak & Sea

Outrageous Mac & Cheese Waffle at Andiron Steak & Sea

Unbelievable – so much that after sharing one, we ordered another!

So, there’s the best of my summer vacay to Vegas.

Back to the gaming industry in New England tomorrow. I hear the soap operas of “As Wynn’s World Turns,” “The Days of our Tribal Lives”, and  “The Bold and the Casino CEO” need some updates.

Binbin