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


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

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 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!


“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”