Casino Industry Myths Disproved – Guest Post By Vital Vegas’s Scott Roeben, Part 1

Scott Roeben of Vital Vegas

Scott Roeben of Vital Vegas

The Casino Industry is full of characters – personalities as wild, as fun, and as polarizing as the entertainment industry it runs with.  Besides the provocative stories and fascinating insight into the industry claims our recreational time and money, many of those colorful “characters” have compelling information that helps our understanding and eventually our success in our casino visits.

download (2)Our post today comes right out of “Vital Vegas,” a website whose reason for existence is “….to give you the essential news and information you need to get the most from your next Las Vegas visit, all with a slightly skewed, and often highly-intoxicated, perspective.”  However, many posts are true of casinos all over the country – which is why this post is shared today.  (Please forgive the NETG asides to his aleady excellent article.)

I must thank Scott Roeben, of VitalVegas, for his permission copy this post.  It covers myths about casinos – general, outdated myths put in perspective only in a way Scott can do.  It’s colorful, it’s humorous, and it’s informative.  Think how it relates to our seven casinos here in New England and comment back to us.  Or, send a note to Scott at scott@vitalvegas.com.  More about Scott, his website, and his podcast (yes, the man does it all) after his guest post.  Here’s Scott…….

10 Ways Thrillist Got Casinos, and Las Vegas, Wrong

We make no apologies for the fact this blog loves it some “listicles” (a catch-all for “information presented in list form”), and we also love a site that frequently publishes them, Thrillist.[a eat, drink and travel website]

Recently, though, Thrillist was responsible for a story we simply can’t let stand.

The piece is called “10 Sneaky Ways Las Vegas Casinos Take Your Money.” The article rehashes lots of outdated Las Vegas myths, jumps to lots of erroneous conclusions and states a number of falsehoods as truth, so we figured it would be fun to lend our two cents to the conversation. If you don’t already live by the credo, “Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet,” now might be a good time to start.

1. Casinos are Windowless Traps – Right up front, Thrillist asserts “casinos are windowless traps.” We call bull.  Many newer casinos have windows and natural light. The extent to which this assertion is misguided can be easily illustrated by the fact casino companies are now building entire venues outside. Those include the multi-million dollar Linq promenade and The Park, between Monte Carlo and New York-New York……because it’s all outside.

Foxwoods open ceiling in the Grand Pequot casino. It also included to areas with windows until boarded up for Tanger Outlets addition.

NETG Addition – Foxwoods open ceiling in the Grand Pequot casino. It also included to areas with windows until boarded up for Tanger Outlets addition.

The article also asks, “Where is the nearest exit?” Seriously? There are signs for exits everywhere. Fire and safety regulations require casinos to post exit signs everywhere. Being sneaky about exits simply wouldn’t be tolerated in casinos.

Although these tidbits make for a colorful conspiracy theory, they’re simply not true upon further scrutiny.

2. Casinos Don’t Have Clocks – The Thrillist article asks, “What time of day is it?” We say it’s time to get a clue about Las Vegas and the modern world.  While you can’t often find clocks inside a casino, why would you need one? Just about every person in a casino has a smartphone on them that shows the time!  Whether the trope about clocks is true or false, why would it matter if casinos provide clocks? Let’s put this old saw to rest, already. (NETG – So true, besides, most millennials can’t read a clock if it’s not digital!)

3. Casino Cages Are Hard to Find – The Thrillist article posits, as fact, casino cages are difficult to find. “It always seems that the casino cage is hard to find, requiring a walk deep into the casino—past many other games and temptations.”

Riviera cashier cage

Placement of casino cages has more to do with structural demands and security than anything nefarious.

The hooey is strong with this one.  There’s nothing sinister going on with the placement of casino cages. The location of cages is based upon security concerns, and signage for cages is everywhere. Today’s casinos are all about customer service. Annoy a customer by hiding a cage and they won’t be back. Also, many casinos have players club desks at the cage, so why would they want to deter players from signing up?  (NETG asaide – As an example, Mohegan Sun has closed a few cashier cages, changed them to Harvest Moon & Lodge bars, with no complaint heard.  However, because of numbers of new guests daily, they have expanded their players club desks.)

In addition, most people playing in casinos are doing so at slot machines. Those machines spit out TITO (ticket-in, ticket-out) vouchers that can be redeemed at self-serve kiosks, more numerous than ever. (NETG – The need for cashiers greatly diminished because of TITO.  No need to bring big buckets of coins to cash in! Nailed it, Scott)

4. Casino Cages Are Intentionally Understaffed – The Thrillist story continues, “And once you find it, often there is a line with only one person there to service those who want to trade their chips in for cash.”  We have personally been to every casino in Las Vegas, for a time period spanning more than a decade, and we have never been to a casino cage with one attendant.  Again, slow service doesn’t benefit a casino. We presume there are also regulatory and security requirements about someone being left along with millions of dollars in cash. If hogwash and hokum had a bastard child, it would be this.

5. Wild Casino Carpets “Keep Your Eyes on the Prize” – We’ve heard this ridiculous theory for years now, and it’s never been true. We’re very familiar with the concept of “unpleasant design,” a concept covered masterfully in a recent episode of the exceptional 99% Invisible podcast. (Many Las Vegas casinos use sharp and pointed design elements on their outdoor features to keep vagrants from sitting or sleeping at their venue, for example.)

Mermaids carpet

Las Vegas fans love casino carpet, even if it looks it was designed by someone with severe head trauma.

But casino carpets aren’t that.  The reason casino carpets are colorful, and have distinctive design details, is to disguise stains. Casino carpets get a lot of traffic, and much of that traffic is drunk and carrying liquor. Spills are frequent, and busy carpeting helps camouflage spills and stains. As usual, practicality wins over conspiracy.

 

(Check NETG’s post “Name That Casino Rug” to check out similar rug patterns in New England Casinos)

Aahhhh – time out & let that all digest for now.  Our guest post from Scott Roeben continues tomorrow!  Part 2 – don’t miss it!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  I first heard Scott when I first started listening to Las Vegas Podcasts. He often would call in to “Five Hundy by Midnight,” the premier Vegas Podcast. He still appears on 360Vegas Podcast, and has his own VitalVegas podcast available for subscription from iTunes.  His bio includes:

  • Contributor to LasVegas.com.
  • Wrote the blog for Caesars Entertainment. The blog was named the “Best Blog” in the country in PR Daily’s 2012 Digital PR and Social Media Awards.
  • Named the most valuable blogger/blog in Las Vegas in 2011 by CBS Las Vegas
  • Editor’s choice for Best Blog in the Trippies Awards in 2010.
  • We were recently honored to be named “Best Blog” in the 2013 Las Vegas Digital Media Awards, presented by the Las Vegas Interactive Marketing Association.
  • We were also named the “Best Las Vegas Blog” in the 2014 Trippies Awards, hosted by VegasTripping.com.
  • As of March 3, 2014, our day job is that of Interactive Marketing Manager for the Fremont Street Experience. Fremont Street Experience serves as the marketing umbrella for a group of casinos including The D Las Vegas, Fremont, California, Main Street, Four Queens, Binion’s, Golden Gate and Golden Nugget.

 

VitalVegas and the Art of the Casino Buffet

 

Meet Scott Roeben – one of my favorite bloggers to read daily, and his blog Vital Las Vegas.  Here is what Scott says about himself (or, them, since he talks about himself in third person plural!)….

 “We have been in Las Vegas for more than a decade, and once created words for one of the world’s most recognized Web sites, LasVegas.com.  From there, we went on to write the blog for  Caesars Entertainment, the world’s largest gaming company, including a number of Las Vegas resorts. The blog was named the “Best Blog” in the country in PR Daily’s 2012 Digital PR and Social Media Awards. We were named the most valuable blogger/blog in Las Vegas in 2011 by CBS Las Vegas, and were an editor’s choice for Best Blog in the Trippies Awards in 2010.”

Notice the newest award he received – the Las Vegas Digital Media Award for Best Blog in 2013.  Bravo, Scott!Las Vegas Digital Media Award

Now, he really is only one guy, but he can be as bazaar as he is interesting – funny as he is informative.  What else would you want from someone giving you a personal perspective of Las Vegas?  As a newbie to Las Vegas, you can pick up essential tips for your first visit.  As an experienced visitor, Scott gives you an insider look at things you might not have yet experienced and should……or not.

Last week, Scott posted in his blog “10 Ways to Make the Most of a Las Vegas Buffet.”  This inspired me to see if any of his suggestions would apply to our four casino buffets ( five if you count Oxford Casino occasional buffet).  The two largest (and most expensive) buffetts are as you would expect in CT’s mega-resorts at Mohegan Sun & Foxwoods (no more Foxwoods-MGM).  Two smaller buffets include Hollywood Casino Hotel & Raceway in Bangor, Maine and a gem of a small buffet at Newport Grand Slots in Newport, Rhode Island.

So, here is the Vital Vegas list, edited to meet New England’s buffets.  Actually, Scott’s strategy works well for just about any buffet.

1.  Have a strategy – “To own a Vegas buffet, or any buffet), you need to have a strategy. Is it most important to have a lot of your favorite dish or to try a wide variety of dishes? Don’t wait until you arrive before sorting this out…. Don’t just wing it!” (This is especially important for the larger buffets)

2. Don’t Starve Yourself Beforehand – “If you don’t eat, your stomach will contract, leaving less room for all the buffet goodness. Eat light in the morning before your buffet adventure, including food with sugar to get your metabolism ready for the challenge ahead.”  (Now, I’m not so sure nutritionists would agree with the sugar-thing, but buffets are not just about quality – it’s about quantity!  Of course, I remind you to review Suggestion #1 again.)

3. Drink Water Instead – “In the days before your buffet visit, drink lots of water to stretch your stomach. That way, you’ll be ready to get the most value for your buffet dollar.”  (Ok, there are many reasons to drinks lots of water, especially out there in the desert.  So, while you are preparing to keep hydrated and preparing to deal with the occasionally hangover after the casino experience (not that I know about  this first hand, but I’ve read about it), why not prepare for a little more gastronomical joy?)

4. Chew Gum and Swallow Ice Cubes(You have to read Scott to understand where he is coming from.  This might fit a vacation in Las Vegas, but I’ll pass on suggesting this one for your usual buffet visit.  If you want to know why he suggests this, go to  http://vitalvegas.com/10-ways-make-las-vegas-buffet/#sthash.zbPfEiAm.aq7HLxm8.dpuf)

5. Time Your Visit CarefullyThis is one suggestion that has been used ever since the buffet was a staple experience in a casino.  Scott writes, “One of the best tips for making the most of a Las Vegas buffet (or all-day buffet with different pricing per settings)  involves perfectly timing one’s visit. Costs vary depending upon which meal is being served. The idea is to pay for breakfast, but to arrive just before the lunch menu is served. The same goes for paying the lunch price, but getting the dinner dishes. Buffet Web sites are an invaluable source of information, so exploit them.”

6. Wear Loose-Fitting Clothing(I love this one!)  “Comfort is important as your body accommodates lots of food……..Belts are the enemy of a winning buffet experience. Expandable waistbands are the buffet champ’s best friend.”

7. Visit All the Buffet Stations, Without a Plate(This is closely related to suggestion #1. maybe should be 1A?) “It’s important that your first pass of the buffet be for surveying purposes only. Going empty-handed will help you avoid making impulsive selections. See what’s available, then formulate a plan of attack.”

7A. This is Binbin’s (so I’ll speak in third person too, I guess) suggestion concerning plate-size.  Take smaller plates – not necessarily to eat less, but to leave the table more.  Getting up for a stretch and walking around again to survey the best of what you missed is a great strategy to continue the experience.  After all, for the price of many of the largest buffets, you want to just spend time and relax a little more, get a little exercise and get a time value out irt as well!

8. Avoid Stomach-Fillers like “…. salads, bread, rice pastas and pizza because they’re the least expensive to provide. Focus on the meat and seafood if you’re looking to get the most value from your buffet investment.”

9. Eat Slowly and Deliberately – “Avoid the temptation to gorge yourself quickly. Take your time. Buffets are a marathon, not a sprint” (Besides, that roll, pasta & salad, oh my, just takes up too much space and mixes with the goodness of all the rest – seperate is how I like it.)

10. Don’t Screw Up Dessert – “The single biggest mistake of novice buffet-goers is eating so much that they can’t enjoy dessert. While desserts aren’t the most high-cost items at a buffet, they’re some of the most pleasing, so save room.”  I agree.  After all, the desserts are what many of the best casino buffets are the most proud.  Leave room, try small quantities of all.

So, let’s review:

1) This blog includes ten suggestions for getting the best “VALUE” from your buffet.
2) More importantly, check out Scott’s blog at vitalvegas.com
That’s all for now.
Binbin