New England Casino Appreciation (While Waiting for the Ghost of Vegas Yet to Come)

Enjoying Vegas Christmas Present

Last year, I ranted about the changes in Las Vegas in 2016.  I felt it was getting farther & farther away from what I thought an epic gambling destination should be. Yes I know – things change quickly in “lost wages.” But, I don’t have to take it with a smile.

In thirty years of visiting Las Vegas, I have seen more changes than I would like to remember. From staying at the Hacienda & the Riviera in the late 80’s, to staying at Aria & Cosmo now, the differences in the Strip alone are mind-boggling. There are still things that I wish were part of the Vegas fabric.

Remember When….

Before my previous rant last year (see Las Vegas – No Christmas Cheer, Just More Scrooge ) free parking in Vegas became a thing of the past. This, for some reason, put me over the edge in rage. It just seemed that a sacred Vegas staple had fallen – what would be next???

Remember these changes on the Strip during 2016?

  • Paying for self-parking, paying for valet parking and paying for parking even as a hotel guest (oh, the humanity)

    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.

  • Porn slappers being replaced by “performers” or buskers all over the sidewalks and pedestrian bridges
  • Economic level Strip properties like Boardwalk, the Sahara, Monte Carlo, Barbary Coast, and Imperial Palace replaced by up-scaled versions like Mandarin Oriental, SLS, Park MGM, Cromwell, and the Linq respectively.
  • More 6/5 blackjack than 3/2, and tighter rules up and down the Strip.

I could go on, but………why?  What’s done, is done.  I imagine I can belabor the point. I can criticize Jim Murren of MGM, CEO’s at Caesars Entertainment, and Steve Wynn for the monopolies they present on the Strip and the changes they have been able to forge, but it would just be an exercise in futility.

Reconciliation Arrives

Instead, I wish to consider two directions that will help me come to my senses.

First, it’s time to embrace those changes influenced by the Great Recession of 2007 and open my eyes to the wonderful new Vegas Strip. So much beautiful architecture, new casinos, wonderful amenities, and fabulous dining and entertainment opportunities in Vegas to enjoy. Gambling and enjoying a rejuvenated Downtown, as well as taking advantage of all that is the ever spreading urban sprawl into Henderson & Summerlain.

Red Rock Resort Casino

Red Rock Resort Casino Hotel, the Gem of Stations Casinos, 20 minutes from the Strip.

So many new and improved options, one visit per year from the East Coast is just not enough anymore.

The second direction is accepting the fabulous gambling, hotel, dining and entertainment options right here in New England – and it’s only going to get better when the current seven casinos expend to 9, 10, or even eleven. Here in New England, we have casinos for every desire – from small convenience casinos to Mega-resorts, two (four counting the future MGM Springfield & Wynn Boston Harbor) that rival anything on the strip, without the fees, WITH free drinks, 5 star dining, enough “oonze” and clubs to get your groove on, fantastic entertainment, & 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.  

I have loved Las Vegas and will continue to do so. But my friends, I have no podcast to verbally express myself (but we will see what the future brings) like so many of my favorite Las Vegas podcasters.  I will continue to listen and be guided by my friends on my iPhone –  Tim & Michele Dressen of “Five Hundy by Midnight,” Mark Wojtowicz at “360 Vegas,” , Mark & Dr. Mike at “You Can Bet On That”, Scott Roeben at Vital Vegas, Tony Snyder at “The Vice Lounge Online,” Jullian at VegasConfessions, Michael Trager & Co. at TravelZork, and even the newest podcast sensation CousinVito’s Casino Podcast. 

As I continue to depend on these experts for my Vegas news & advice, I suggest you all do, too. So I say,

Viva Las Vegas, and Viva New England!

Las Vegas South Strip.

 

Binbin – NE TimeGambling.com

 

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

 

Frank Sinatra – He Did It His Way

images (1)Francis Albert Sinatra, the Chairman of the Board, Ol’ Blue Eyes, the Voice, the Sultan of Swoon – but we only need to refer to him as Sinatra.

Today we celebrate his birthday – if alive, he would be 100 years old.

Why so important – why so legendary?

According to Classic Vegas, “Shortly after his death in 1998, most of the hotels on Las Vegas strips briefly shut down their neon signs in memory of the person who, perhaps more than any other entertainer, helped bring Las Vegas onto the national consciousness. He is the first person to be honored with a star in the Las Vegas Walk of Fame. The music world has changed since Frank dominated the stage of the Sands Hotel, but to many people it’s still Frank’s world, and we just live in it.”

His influence on music – jazz, pop, kitsch, whatever you want to call it – continues. His songs continue to be covered by jazz and pop artists alike.  Shows like FRANK The Man. The Music. a grand theatrical production honoring his life and music is performed on the live stage at The Palazzo Theatre in Las Vegas.

Performing in the 90's

Performing in the 90’s

Bono, lead singer for Ireland’s rock group U2, told Farley, “Rock-n-roll people love Frank Sinatra because he had what we want—swagger and attitude.” His music was from a time when it about the phrasing of a song, the emotional content of a piece.

He also was an entertainment triple threat – singer, dancer, actor.  Oscar winner, and great dancer paired with Gene Kelly, and winner of 3 Golden Globes & 13 Grammy’s.

Frank, and The Rat Pack at Cal-Neva Lodge.

Frank, and The Rat Pack at Cal-Neva Lodge

He even dabbled in casino ownership. Before Vegas was Vegas, it was the infamous casino haunt where the Rat Pack came, drank, & gambled. In 1960, entertainer Frank Sinatra purchased the Cal-Neva Resort on the border of California & Nevada, on the shores of Lake Tahoe.  Frank and Rat-Pack friends, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. helped make the Cal Neva Lodge one of Nevada’s coolest casinos in the early 1960s.

Sinatra Opened Fox Theater in 1993 at Foxwoods.  Commemorative Chip one year later.

Sinatra Opened Fox Theater in 1993 at Foxwoods. Commemorative Chip one year later.

Remember, Foxwoods has dedicated this entire month to celebrating Frank Sinatra.  Ole Blue Eyes opened the Fox Theater with a legendary performance in 1993. For this month’s festivities commemorating Sinatra at Foxwoods, click here.

All those names we refer to Frank Sinatra by should always be preceded by one – Legendary.  Happy Birthday, Frank – you were one of a kind.

Binbin