Gaming Studies Research Center | Dave Schwartz
UNLV home University of Nevada Las Vegas

I am the eye in the sky, looking at you, I can read your mind...

Casino [ptz]
formerly the Gaming Studies Weblog
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I am the eye in the skyMonday, September 06, 2004

The Die is Cast!


That's right, www.dieiscast.com is now up and running. I'll continue to post here on gaming-related matters, but you can get a lot more by checking www.dieiscast.com.

The casino carpet gallery is going over hugely. The simple notion of collecting, in one place, examples of the ugly art of gambling hall floor coverings is electrifying people like nothing else.

But remember, you can also check out info about my writing, speaking, and consulting, and of course the weblog.

Yesterday (9/5), I posted a picture of Las Vegas nightlife that already has people wondering, "How does he get away with it?" (well, not really) There is much to see.

So if you haven't already, please visit www.dieiscast.com. Set your bookmarks, or favorites, or whatever you call them.



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I am the eye in the skyFriday, September 03, 2004

Casting the Die


Starting Tuesday, you'll have yet another site to add to your bookmarks. On Tuesday, September 7, look for the launch of www.dieiscast.com (as of the morning of 9/3 you might get the beta pages or an error message, so don't click on the link expecting much).

The site is going to have a weblog by me with more functionality than this one, as well as lots of info on my creative activities. I've already got 10 or so reviews posted, some of them appearing online for the first time. I've got image galleries, advice for gamblers, and much more.

Why am I launching my own site after building gaming.unlv.edu for three years? It comes down to me having a lot to say that's not about gaming. I don't want to dilute this site with my reviews of fiction, movies, etc, so I plunked down the cash for my own domain name and server space and launched into Die is Cast.

If you're curious about the title or anything else, check the site out. It may be available over the weekend, but I'll be doing a lot of work on it, getting the weblog up and running and working out any problems.

I'm going to be doing a lot more stuff on gaming.unlv.edu in the coming weeks as well. We're still working on the Global Gaming Abstract, and I expect to make some of its contents available online.

Anyway, on Tuesday, September 3, when you get back from whatever Labor Day debauchery you get yourself into, check out www.dieiscast.com.

If anyone wants to help me promote this new site, email me.



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I am the eye in the skyThursday, September 02, 2004

Monorail busted, 301 still running


Once again, I stepped into the middle (well, the periphery) of a major news story. The quick news is that the oft-injured Las Vegas monorail broke. From the LVRJ:
The Las Vegas Monorail took a pratfall on its biggest stage to date Wednesday when a tire fell from one of its trains, leading to a systemwide shutdown during one of the valley's largest annual conventions.
Monorail officials were waiting until today to decide when to reopen the 4.4-mile system, after getting a second opinion on why a 20-inch, 60-pound rubber tire broke off a train around 8 a.m.
Monorail officials say they doubt it's related to a January incident in which a drive shaft fell from one of its trains during testing.

"It appears these are isolated incidents," said Todd Walker, a monorail spokesman. "One of the reasons we have safety investigations is to reaffirm that. We want to ensure that this doesn't happen again, and it's not associated with anything that's taken place before."

The northbound train was between Flamingo Road and Sands Avenue at the time the tire fell, landing in an unoccupied parking spot in a lot owed by Harrah's. No one was hurt, monorail officials said.

The shutdown forced thousands of conventioneers to find alternate ways to and from the Men's Apparel Guild in California -- or MAGIC -- trade show, which ends today at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

LV monorail shuts down in midst of trade show hubbub
Here's my personal connection:

Yesterday, I budgeted some time to do some photography on the Strip. This is for a major project that I think will change the way people appreciate the casino experience. This is one of the reasons I haven't been posting as much here this week: I'm working on launching a new website that will feature this project. I can't reveal too much, but I'll just say that the die has been cast.

Anyway, I had a simple plan: Start at the MGM, cycle around to the Mandalay mile and back up through the Monte Carlo, cross over to hit the Aladdin, Paris, and Bally's, cross back over to get Bellagio, then work my way up the Strip until Circus Circus, where I would cross over and get the Riveria and Sahara. Because I had parked at the MGM Grand, I would then ride the monorail back there.

I figured it was a good way to get my photo work done and ride the monorail, which has been tremendously hyped. But, I ran into two big problems.

Problem #1: the digital camera battery dies, even though it had been charging for a month, just as I was about to enter Circus Circus.

So, I thought, I would just take the monorail from the Riviera to MGM and call it a night.

Problem #2: there is no monorail stop at the Riviera, so I had to walk all the way through the property and parking lot, cross Paradise Rd, and get to the station at the Hilton. Of course, the people at the Riviera who I asked just said vaguely that it was "in the back," not that it was actually a few blocks away, but I like a nice walk as much as anyone.

Problem #3: After dodging taxis and crawling all over the landscaping (the Hilton's owners are apparently not expecting much pedestrian traffic from Paradise), I found that the exterior entrance to the monorail was closed. Since no one, in any of my travels, responded to my queries about the monorail with, "I'm sorry, the monorail is broken), I assumed that you had to enter from inside. So I jogged down to the Hilton's north tower entrance, through the Spacequest casino, and to the monorail station, only to find that IT WASN'T RUNNING.

No one had any clue as to why it was down. One employee suggested I take a cab. I just stared blankly and said, "Isn't there a bus?" She responded that the trolley would take "two hours" to get to the MGM. Still, I didn't jump at the cab. Here's why:
Taxi test rides yield long-hauls, prostitution offers
Check that story out. Actually, once when I took a cab from the airport to UNLV, the driver (totally unsolicited--I literally didn't say a word before this) attempted to steer me to a club where he said that I could "get laid, no problem." When I told him that a) it wasn't usually a problem for me and b) my then-girlfriend wouldn't appreciate it, he still didn't back off. So when I got to UNLV I reported it to the campus police. If you are so stupid as to solicit complete strangers to break the law, and so obnoxious that you refuse to stop, you deserve whatever you get.

Back to the current tale of frustration. I didn't feel the need to tour the airport tunnel or get introduced to a prostitute, and even if I had wanted a taxi, there was a huge line. A helpful steerer told me I could get "a limo, with no waiting," to which I audibly snorted.

So it was back to the Strip. I've got to confess that I've never used public transportation in Las Vegas. Now, when I'm on the east coast, it's a totally different thing: my research trip to DC a few weeks ago wouldn't have been possible without the Metro, and whenever I go back to AC I fly into Philly, take the R-1 to Market Station East, then hop on the NJ Transit 551, which deposits me in the Atlantic City bus station. To get up to New York, I take the NJ Transit 312. So I'm no stranger to busses and trains, I just haven't used them in Vegas.

I had rather vague knowledge of a bus that ran up and down the Strip. I found a bus stop in front of the Stardust and, just as the bus pulled up, I learned it was $2 (exact change of course, which I didn't have). So I ran to the Stardust valet, got change, and hurried back just as the bus was pulling away. The driver couldn't stop to admit passengers in the middle of the street, so I mimed to him that I would board at the next stop (actually, I just pointed down the street while moving in that direction). He seemed to nod.

So I flat out sprinted (in shoes, not sneakers) from Stardust to the Frontier. It was actually pretty tiring. I could see that the bus had stopped, but had no guarantee it would stay there. So I ran hard, finally getting to the door just as it was about to close. Though the bus was full, the driver, recognizing my vigilant efforts, allowed me on.

From there, it was no problem at all. The bus number, if you're curious is "301." Nice smooth ride right down the Strip. For $5, you can get an all-day pass.

The upshot on the 301: it's much more convenient than the monorail, marginally less expensive, and apparently far more reliable than the monorail.

Can someone explain to me, using small words if necessary, why the monorail was needed, when a bus route already exists to serve the Strip? Sure, it doesn't go to the convention center, but that's what transers are for. Let's say someone is staying at Luxor. By the time they crossed the Strip, walked to the depths of MGM to catch the train, then rode the train to the convention center, I think they could have caught the 301 to convention center drive then just walked down.

Anyway, the monorail actually wasted a lot of my time last night, though I'd love to be persuaded of its efficacy.




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I am the eye in the skyWednesday, September 01, 2004

Cincinatti Kid all-time best


The 1965 Steve McQueen poker film is the best gambling movie ever made, according to 888.com. As resported in Scotsman.com, here's the top 20 list:
1. The Cincinnati Kid (1965)
2. Casino (1995)
3. Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)
4. Oceans Eleven (2001)
5. The Sting (1973)
6. Maverick (1994)
7. Rounders (1998)
8. Honeymoon in Vegas (1992)
9. Casino Royale (1967)
10. The Gamble (1998)
11. Rain Man (1988)
12. The Hustler (1961)
13. The Color of Money (1986)
14. Lucky Town (2000)
15. Las Vegas (2003)
16. Snake Eyes (1998)
17. Croupier (1998)
18. The Music of Chance (1993)
19. Havana (1990)
20. Face (1997)

Classic Cincinnati Kid holds all the aces
As I reported a few months ago, The Cincinatti Kid is Gary Busey's favorite gambling movie of all time. There's a guy who's got his finger on the pulse of gamblers everywhere.

As far as the rankings, I am elated that Warren Beatty's crapfest Bugsy was nowhere near the list. Snake Eyes is a personal favorite, only because it was filmed at the Trump Taj Mahal and Nicholas Cage's character had my former boss's name. I'd have dumped the 2001 Ocean's Eleven for the 1960 original.

It's also great to see Croupier and Music of Chance, two lesser known movies, up there--I'd have both higher on the list. I'd put The Cooler on there too, and maybe the remake of The Ladykillers, which was a casino heist film.

Anyone else have thoughts on great movies about gambling?



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I am the eye in the skyTuesday, August 31, 2004

I'm right again?


I hate to say "I told you so..." well, I guess I don't. If I keep making accurate predictions, people may begin to discern my perspicacity and hire me as a consultant.

Anyway, when the Harrah's/Caesars merger new broke, I had this to say about the impact in Atlantic City:
In any event, my prediction is that the Hilton is sold, possibly to the Colony group, who have just bought the Las Vegas Hilton, which Caesars recently divested. (July 16, 2004)
Today, MSNBC is reporting:
Harrah's Entertainment Inc. and Caesars Entertainment Inc. have begun negotiations to sell four casinos to a group led by a real estate investment company, a move intended to help reduce antitrust concerns involving their recent merger agreement, two sources familiar with the negotiations said Monday.

The deal involves selling the Harrah's casinos in Tunica, Miss., and East Chicago, Ind., to the group led by Colony Capital LLC, one source said.

The other two properties are the Caesars-owned Bally's casino in Tunica, Miss. and the Atlantic City Hilton, the other source said.

Sources: Harrah's, Caesars to sell casinos
There are professional seers and fortunetellers, to say nothing of stock analysts and economic forecasters, who get paid good money to tell people to future, who are less successful than me. And you get it all here, for free. The key to being an accurate prognosticator, in my view, is to speak only about things you know a great deal, and only within reason. It was easy for me to read between the lines six weeks ago and see that Colony was going to be a major bidder for any Harrah's/Caesars castoffs. It's all about rationally sizing up the alternatives.

On the other hand, people who try to sell you their "guaranteed locks" for football betting, in my view, might as well randomly guess. Don't waste your money.



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Why UNLV is different


I thought that I had it good at the University of Pennsylvania: excellent faculty, great facilities, and plenty of resources to build a strong undergraduate education. I even took extra classes and got my Masters' degree while I was there. But that school did not teach me to bet on sports.

"But wait!" You might say, "No university would do that." You are wrong. Check this course description from UNLV Distance Education:

SPORTS BETTING: HOW TO WIN BETTING ON FOOTBALL

Gain a greater understanding of how to bet and win on football. Your instructor, a senior sports analyst and professional handicapper, will also present prominent professional gamblers, bookmakers and oddsmakers as guest lecturers to provide tips and share their ideas. Areas discussed will include betting styles, money management, value of a number, line movements, the best places to make your wagers, information sources, parlays and how much you should expect to win.

Wed. 7-8 pm, Sept. 29-Nov. 3 Beam Hall (BEH), Rm 106

$99 Includes parking permit (6 sessions)

There are still openings remaining at this time.

Instructor: Stephen Nover Location: Beam Hall (BEH) Room 106
This sounds like fun for people interested in sports betting. It can't be said that UNLV isn't responsive to the needs of a dynamic urban population that likes to hit parlays.



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I am the eye in the skyFriday, August 27, 2004

New day rising in Atlantic City


New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey took time out from the political firestorm raging around him to sign some important legislation for Atlantic City. The bill will provide about $3 billion in economic aid for the city and enable it to continue its transformation into a destination resort. From the AC Press:
Gov. James E. McGreevey signed legislation Wednesday that will generate billions of dollars in development over the next five years. It is considered the most important economic-aid package for Atlantic City since the Casino Control Act in the 1970s.

In addition to creating thousands of construction jobs, the legislation will serve as a centerpiece of development plans for 2,000 hotel rooms and an array of Las Vegas-style retail and entertainment attractions to help the casino industry fend off competition from Pennsylvania's new slot parlors next year.

"The partnership that we establish here today will ensure Atlantic City's competitiveness well into the next several decades," McGreevey said moments before signing the legislation in front of a cheering crowd at Boardwalk Hall.The ceremony was attended by state lawmakers, labor leaders and about 300 construction workers, many of them wearing hard hats, mud-spattered boots and overalls.

It was the first public appearance for the governor since his stunning announcement Aug. 12 that he is gay, had an extramarital affair with a man and will resign Nov. 15.

McGreevey received a standing ovation after signing the legislation, which consists of two bills. Waving the papers triumphantly above his head, the governor said, simply, "It's now law."

Touting a litany of economic benefits, McGreevey said the legislation creates a partnership between the state and casinos that will bring billions of dollars in jobs and construction projects to the area.

"We have collectively leveraged our strength and ability over the next five years to attract $3 billion in private capital investment to Atlantic City," the governor said.

Supporters said the new laws will complete the economic work started by former Gov. Brendan T. Byrne, who signed the New Jersey Casino Control Act of 1977 to allow legalized gaming in Atlantic City.

"This bill is second in importance only to the signing of the Casino Control Act," said state Sen. Bill Gormley, R-Atlantic, chief sponsor of the legislation.

Besides giving labor unions a boost, the legislative package represents an economic bonanza for the $4.3 billion casino industry. The legislation provides tens of millions of dollars in construction incentives and will also phase out, by June 30, 2009, a 4.25 percent state tax that casinos pay on the free rooms and other "comps" they give to their best customers.

"The tax bill is very important. It stabilizes the industry," said Larry Mullin, executive vice president of the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa. "Without the legislation, there would be uncertainty."

Mullin said casinos will be encouraged to invest in Atlantic City instead of scouting out opportunities in other markets that already have or will soon be starting legalized gaming.

Borgata, the flashy, billion-dollar megaresort that opened last year, is already planning a $200 million expansion project that will add 600 slot machines, new gaming tables and four restaurants to the property. Mullin said Borgata hopes to take advantage of new state tax incentives to build retail and entertainment attractions.

One of the new bills will funnel $62 million in Casino Reinvestment Development Authority funding into Atlantic City construction projects, including an estimated 2,000 new hotel rooms and improvements to the Boardwalk.

The CRDA, the state agency that uses casino funds for development projects, will set up five new retail-entertainment districts in Atlantic City. Developers will be eligible for $2.5 million in annual sales-tax rebates over a 20-year period for the retail-entertainment projects.

Wallace R. Barr, chief executive officer of Caesars Entertainment Inc., operator of three Atlantic City gaming halls, said his company may now push ahead with tentative plans for a 1,000-room hotel tower atop a $75 million parking garage under construction for the Bally's and Caesars casinos.

For A.C., a $3 billion jackpot
That was the news, now here's the hard-hitting analysis: This is obviously great for the unions and the gaming industry, but I didn't see anything about how this bill would improve the housing stock of Atlantic City. One of the original purposes of casino gaming was to make Atlantic City a better place to live and halt the exodus of the middle class. It seems that this has been completely forgotten; the new goal is to maintain revenues in the face of competition from slot parlors. Talk about collapsed expectations.

Can the city pay Caesars $64 million not to build a hotel tower on top of its new parking garage? Aesthetically, these things are just ugly, and I can't imagine that people spending the night there feel like high rollers: "Yeah, we got a great room over the garage! It was phenomenal!" Right.

As an Atlantic City native, it's great to see all of this development, but it would also be nice to see a little more done to make the city a more attractive place to live. With 50,000 or so casino employees, many of them commuting over an hour each way, there are certainly people who would be well served to live in the city.



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Conn. poker players, beware


Barroom poker tournament in Connecticut are illegal, everyone seems to agree, so watch where you play. From Newsday:
The state agency that regulates legalized gambling in Connecticut is echoing Attorney General Richard Blumenthal's statement that barroom poker tournaments are illegal.

The state Division of Special Revenue issued a statement Wednesday after getting several inquiries.

"We got so many calls from bar owners that we felt we had to put something out there," Paul Bernstein, a spokesman for the division, said. The statement cited both criminal laws and state-tribal agreements that grant Connecticut's two Indian casinos the exclusive right to run almost every commercial game, including poker.

The repeal of the so-called Las Vegas Nights law in January 2003 was also part of that effort, said Bernstein. Those laws allowed nonprofit groups and churches to use games, including poker, to raise money for a cause.

"There are prices that have to be paid if the state doesn't want a third casino," said Bernstein.

Blumenthal welcomed the statement, although he said the ban had nothing to do with tribal concerns. He cited a criminal law that prohibits any form of gambling in which the participants do not have "a bona fide social relationship."

The law classifies gambling as a criminal misdemeanor unless all the players can prove they are friends or co-workers who see each other away from poker tables.

State agency agrees on poker promotion ban
How do you prove that you are friends with someone, or that you see them away from the tables? I suppose the Connecticut Department of Special Revenue has their ways of finding out.

If the bar isn't taking a cut of the pot, what is the difference whether the people are friends or not? This is just an example of how convoluted American gambling law can be. It seems that there is no clear-cut moral, ethical, or legal principle at stake here, just semantics.



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Give me your poor...


For years, the Ellis Island casino/motel on Koval lane has been a beacon to all those huddled masses yearning for a $4.95 prime rib special. But now, it might join an increasing number of Las Vegas properties going condo. From the LV Sun:
A few weeks after scuttling plans to take over management of the nearby Tuscany casino, the Ellis Island Casino & Brewery has submitted plans with the county to build a 36-story condo-hotel tower with about 800 rooms.

A use permit filed Aug. 10 calls for a casino in addition to 200 hotel rooms and 603 condo-hotel suites that could be lived in by owners or rented out by the night as the owner chooses. The plans are among a few but growing number of condo-hotel projects in Las Vegas, which are favored for their flexible living arrangements as well as the ability to feed nearby casinos with regular customers.

The project would be built on the Ellis Island site at 4180 Koval Lane near Flamingo Road as well as the adjacent Super 8 Motel site at 4250 Koval Lane. The Ellis Island sits on about 1.7 acres and the contiguous Super 8 property, with about 290 rooms, sits on about 2.5 acres. It's not clear whether the existing properties would be torn down or whether the buildings would be remodeled and expanded.

Ellis Island submits plans for 36-story condo-hotel
The article also mentions the Krystle Sands, a 45-story condo that will be built over the bulldozed Algiers motel on the Strip. For some reason, many real estate developers in Las Vegas are too busy for dictionaries. Deliberately mispelling words is not cute. I think its downright krappie. Why would someone drop a few hundred grand for a condo that isn't even spelled right? I'd think twice about it.



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I am the eye in the skyThursday, August 26, 2004

Queen Mary casino?


LBC needs money; that translates as Long Beach, CA is financially strapped. So, of course, a casino is just the cure. Or is it? Right now, developers are saying no, but one these things have a way of going the other way. From the LA Times (reg.) :
The company that operates the Queen Mary for the city of Long Beach said Monday that it wants to sell 75% interest in the vessel to a Las Vegas-registered limited partnership.

Although some civic activists have speculated for months that the financially strapped city might allow the historic ship to be turned into a casino, Joe Prevratil, president and chief executive of Queen's Seaport Development, which leases the ship from the city, said the prospective majority owners would not turn the vessel into a gambling enterprise.

Bandero LLC has a Nevada address, but its principals have Southern California offices. The partnership has discussed building a marina, a high-end hotel, an international retail center and a time-share complex next to the ship, Prevratil said.

Also, Long Beach would not allow gaming aboard the ship, and under its lease may reject the proposed new owners, City Atty. Robert Shannon said.

Vegas Partnership Seeks 75% Interest in Queen Mary
I know that everyone is saying that there won't be gaming on the ship, but I have a plan in mind that makes perfect karmic sense:

Let Long Beach authorize offshore casino ships. Many of the Las Vegas operators of the 1940s, including Stardust originator Tony Cornerno, originally ran offshore gambling boats before Gov. Earl Warren and LA Mayor Fletcher Bowron cracked down on them in the early 1940s.

With California posied to become the gaming capital of the US, this makes perfect sense. I've said it before, but someday people might live in Nevada for the friendly business climate and vacation (and gamble) in California--a reversal of the process that created the Las Vegas Strip in the early 1950s.

It's just a thought.



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I am the eye in the skyWednesday, August 25, 2004

The future of Scottish tourism


What do death, gambling, and homosexuality have in common? According to scotsman.com, they are the future of tourism in Scotland. This article talks about both John Lennon and Howard Hughes, so it's got to be good:
FORGET golf, whisky and genealogy. Tourism in Scotland is to be boosted by death, homosexuality and gambling.

Niche markets such as dark tourism - interest in graveyards, gruesome ghost tours and battlefields - are to be targeted in an effort to attract more visitors. Industry figures will also hear of the benefits of so-called pink tourism and casino tourism at a series of lectures organised by VisitScotland.

Income from gay visitors and amusement attractions such as Glasgow’s casinos is put at more than £100 million annually.

The new niche areas add to existing Scottish tourism themes, including extreme sports, culture, whisky, golf and genealogy. Tens of thousands come to Scotland every year to trace their family history.

A spokesman for VisitScotland said: "Targeting specific areas such as dark tourism and pink tourism are among the ways we can encourage more tourists to Scotland.

Professor John Lennon, of the Moffat Centre at Glasgow Caledonian University, a world expert on dark tourism, will speak about "ghosts, murder and religion".

He said: "Scotland has a rich and evocative history and there is scope for expanding the range and quality of attractions in terms of what is on offer. "But tourism agencies have to walk a tightrope in terms of taste. Some dark tourism is more sinister, such as the interest in going to see Auschwitz, Lockerbie or Ground Zero. It is a similar phenomenon to the desire to slow down and look at accident scenes on the motorway. "

There are more suitable opportunities. The Glasgow Necropolis is a fascinating place to visit but it doesn’t get as much attention as perhaps some of the graveyards in Edinburgh which are on ghost tours."

VisitScotland is already appealing to gay travellers, whose higher disposable income - dubbed the pink pound - is worth an estimated £72 million a year to Scotland’s hotels, restaurants and bars. A current promotional campaign in glossy magazines with a high gay readership is aimed at reversing the negative publicity earlier this year when Tom Forrest, a Highland B&B owner, turned away gay guests, describing them as "deviants".

VisitScotland is also hosting a series of visits to Scotland by United States tour operators that specialise in the gay market.

Professor Howard Hughes, of Manchester Metropolitan University, will next month talk about marketing to attract the pink pound.

Lady Penelope Cobham, chairman of the British Casino Association (BCA), will deliver a talk in November entitled Casino Tourism - What Lies Ahead?

Glasgow’s growth as a business conference destination is being helped by its high-profile casinos. The first of Glasgow’s new "super casinos" will open next month in Glassford Street. Run by Gala, the firm which manages four of the city’s five existing casinos, it will stay open 18 hours a day.

The creator of Sun City, South Africa’s gaming and entertainment resort, is also hoping to spend £162 million creating a casino and hotel complex near the SECC, while one of the giants of the Las Vegas strip, Las Vegas MGM Mirage, has promised "a complete day and night-time experience’’ at a proposed casino at the Glasgow Harbour development.

Death, gambling and the pink pound - is this tourism's future?

I say they should just combine all of this stuff--build a casino in the Glasgow Necropolis (what a cool name for a casino) and have a gay nightclub as an attraction. You could even call the club the "Pink Pound" just to make it crystal clear. To maintain links with other popular activities, the casino could also have a scotch whisky bar/lounge, golf course, and genealogical research center.

Everywhere, it seems, gambling is being touted as THE ANSWER. It will fund property tax relief in Pennsylania, prop up the budget in California, and bring droves of tourists to Scotland.

It's interesting that, in spite of governments around the world embracing gambling, it's still seen as something of a fringe tourism product, like graveyard tours.



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California casino update


The nation's leading gambling destination...California? It may soon be true, according to Dan Morain of the LA Times:
state once skeptical of wagering is in the midst of a gambling boom that could double casino revenue in coming years.

In time, according to gambling industry officials and economists, the Golden State almost surely will pass Nevada as the nation's biggest gambling venue.

The fast expansion of gambling marks a major shift for the state. For 50 years — from 1933, when the Depression-era electorate approved horse racing, to the mid-1980s — gambling remained limited in California.

"People liked gambling; they would drive to Nevada," said Roger Dunstan, who in 1997 wrote a study about gambling in the state for the California Research Bureau, part of the state library. "But they didn't want it next door."

That began changing in the 1980s. As cities approved card rooms in an effort to replace property tax revenue lost after Proposition 13, voters statewide approved the lottery as a way to help pay for schools.

What was a trickle became a flood after ballot propositions in 1998 and 2000 successfully pitched Indian gambling as a road toward economic independence for tribes. Now, the state has more than 60,000 slot machines, the most lucrative game for any casino owner, and tribal casinos generate roughly $5 billion to $6 billion annually.For now, California's gambling industry remains considerably smaller than Nevada's, which has 220,000 slots and generates more than $9 billion in annual revenue.

Moreover, Indian casinos, which are sprinkled throughout the state, are not likely ever to be concentrated in one area that would rival the Las Vegas Strip as a tourist attraction or gambling center.

Still, the growth in California gambling is sure to continue.

California on Path to Become Nation's Gambling Capital ( reg. required, but worth it)

See also this pdf of CA's Indian casinos
Casinos in California are definitely the new frontier of the industry, along with slot machines in the northeast.



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I am the eye in the skyTuesday, August 24, 2004

Back in Vegas


After a 4-hour UNLV Faculty Senate meeting this morning, I'm back in my office, with about 300 emails and 20 voicemail messages to shift through. Hopefully I will be back with a substantive post tomorrow.



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I am the eye in the skyThursday, August 19, 2004

Busy, busy day


I'm away from the office for a few days, and it seems like everything goes nuts in the world of casinos. Here's a few stories that I consider important but, because I'm posting from the Library of Congress under some heavy time constraints, can't link to. Go to google news to read about them; if you're reading this a few weeks from now, you are SOL. Sorry.

1. Donald Trump now has a board game. I know that Trump-The Game was a product of the 1980s or early 1990s, but I guess he's board again.

2. A California Indian Nation might build a casino near Disneyland. I've always said (and I specifically said it in Suburban Xanadu, look it up) that Disneyland is a casino resort for kids. Now both kids and adults can go to one place for nonstop entertainment.

3. Steve Wynn and Sheldon Adelson are dueling over parking again.

4. Search engines sued for online gambling ads

5. A huge casino is planned in the East Bay (near San Francisco).

If you read this next paragraph, you will probably gain an interesting, but most likely unuseful, bit of information. On the doors to the John Adams building of the Library of Congress, there are carved reliefs of a number of mythical gods of knowledge; I don't have the whole list but it is probably online somewhere if you are curious. Anyway, one of them is Thoth, the ibis-headed Egyptian (also represented by a baboon-faced dog or a dog-faced baboon) who according to Socrates (citing even more ancient Egyptian sources) invented gambling.

That's just a useless piece of trivia for you to digest, or another brick in the temple of enlightenment.




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I am the eye in the skyWednesday, August 18, 2004

Hooters on the Strip


I recall that about a week ago, an article in the New York Daily News cast aspersions on Trump Marina because it has a Hooters restaurant:
While The Borgata has an outpost of The Old Homestead, a New York steakhouse, the Trump Marina has a Hooters and a Taco Bell.

Now, the conversion of the San Remo casino near the Las Vegas Strip, next to the Tropicana and across from the MGM, is being hailed as the greatest thing since shaved tokens. From the LV Sun:
Skimpy shorts and tight tank tops already are ubiquitous on the Strip but will be making another debut of sorts at the Hotel San Remo, which has signed a management deal with the Hooters restaurant chain to rebrand the Las Vegas hotel-casino into a Hooters Casino Hotel.
The 711-room property, which is east of the Tropicana resort on Tropicana Avenue and overshadowed by its larger and showier neighbors, expects to offer a Hooters restaurant adjacent to the casino floor as well as service from the famed "Hooters Girls."

"It's going to be an entirely new property," San Remo General Manager Mike Hessling said today. "You will not recognize a portion of the San Remo when it's done."

The property also will have new restaurants, including a Dan Marino's Fine Food and Spirits, a Florida-based chain owned by the former Miami Dolphins football star. The pool area will be about three times its current size, with a Hooters Beach Club and tropical theme. The hotel rooms will be remodeled with a "Florida casual" look and the casino also will be updated. The outside of the property will feature the Hooters owl logo and at night will be lit with the chain's trademark orange tint.

Hooters founders will have a management stake in the hotel-casino and are beginning the process of obtaining a state casino license. The property will be run by a joint venture of about nine people including the hotel's current Japanese investors, officials with Clearwater, Fla.-based Hooters Management Corp. and the owners of the two existing Hooters franchises in the Las Vegas area. The franchise owners will keep open those locations, one on West Sahara Avenue in Las Vegas and the other inside the Sunset Station hotel-casino.
The hotel plans a late 2005 "grand opening" as a Hooters and will remain open during the transformation.

The San Remo intends to keep its 600 or so employees but will hire an additional 400 workers, including Hooters Girls, Hessling said. None of the property's existing employees will be replaced by Hooters Girls, he said.

San Remo converting to Hooters brand
How about that. A Hooters hotel and casino. Who would have thought? I think I want to have a contest to pick the next restaurant-themed casino. TGI Friday's? Subway? For people from the Pennsylvania/NJ area, how about this: a WaWa casino.



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