|Gaming Studies Research Center | Dave Schwartz|
formerly the Gaming Studies Weblog
Monday, 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.
Friday, 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.
Thursday, 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.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:
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.
Wednesday, 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)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?
Tuesday, 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.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.
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:
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.
Friday, 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.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.
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.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.
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.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.
Thursday, 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.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.
Wednesday, 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.
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.
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.Casinos in California are definitely the new frontier of the industry, along with slot machines in the northeast.
Tuesday, 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.
Thursday, 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.
Wednesday, 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.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.
What is Casino[ptz]?
In a sentence: "A weblog featuring news, notes, and opinions from the world of casinos and gambling."
Casino is self-explanatory; ptz refers to a surveillance camera that can pan, tilt, and zoom, thus offering the operator a better perspective and more detailed shot.
As of now, Casino [ptz] is not being updated. Instead, you can find Dave's wit and wisdom on his own website, www.dieiscast.com. \
Go there now, for casino carpets and more.
The opinions expressed are those of Dr. Schwartz and not those of UNLV or any of its students, staff, or faculty.
If you have any questions, please direct them to Dave at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Test your knowledge with two quizzes I have devised for your enlightenment and entertainment.
1. Do you know gambling?
If you've read this weblog, I'll bet you do.
(view the Scoreboard)
This quiz features ten questions about gambling, mostly in casinos.
2. Do you know casino history?
(view the Scoreboard)
This quiz features ten questions taken from the pages of Suburban Xanadu.
If you've read the book, the quiz should be a snap.
Or, take the quiz and see what you are missing.
Email Dave if you want him to add your blog.
Who is Dave Schwartz?
1) Extending and improving the collection of books, journals, and primary materials about gambling known as the Gaming Collection.
2) Working on digital initiatives, such as this weblog and the GSRC site, that facilitate the understanding of gaming research and gaming issues.
3) Answering questions about gambling from media and researchers, or directing them to the answers.
Before coming to UNLV, Schwartz worked in the Atlantic City casino industry as a surveillance officer. He is also the youngest person known to have received a Ph.D. in History from UCLA.
Schwartz is the author of Suburban Xanadu: The Casino Resort on the Las Vegas Strip and Beyond, which is an intelligent, accurate account of the creation and legacy of the Las Vegas Strip. Click on the link for more information about this best-selling book, or just buy it from amazon.com.
In his own words:
"To answer the biggest question I get, no, I don't gamble. I know the odds and, having spent more hours than I care to remember watching people gambling, it doesn't excite me at all. So why do I study gambling? Because the industry and the interactions fascinate me.
"Las Vegas is an interesting place to live, and my job gives me a good window on the city. In a typical day, I might go from talking about gambling books with a system player to answering a question from a reporter from a major newspaper to meeting with casino executives. So I think I can bring a unique perspective on the industry and the people who make it work."
To learn more about Dr. Schwartz, go here.
The unofficial Casino[ptz] mascot
It's the mystery mammal, of course. Dave is currrently developing a "Mystery Mammals" cartoon idea. Hey, if "Father of the Pride" works, maybe animal cartoons will become the next big thing.
Dave just likes these images, and hopes you do as well.
It's always important to remember your roots. Dave has chosen this image to constantly remind him just where he came from. It is a heraldic crest gone wrong.
Oh yeah, Dave also likes to see his name in lights. This is a genuine, non-photoshopped image...or is it?
Casino carpet is almost (but not quite) abstract art. This is from a real casino floor in a real Las Vegas Strip casino. Guess where and win a prize!
Here are some closing thoughts from Orff's Carmina Burana, "Fortuna, Imperatrix Mundi" (Fortune, Empress of the World):
Somehow I don't think you'll find that in any casino advertisements. But Carmina Burana would be a great casino show, particularly sectons 2 and 3, which deal explicitly with gambling, drinking, debauchery, and sex.
The opera is almost an adaptation of the 13th century version of "what happens in Vegas (or, in this case, Beuren), stays in Vegas. Certainly it has all the elements of a great revue extravaganza.
people have panned, tilted and zoomed since July 2004.
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