Saturday, July 11, 2015

Derek Stevens Publicity Stunts

The D and Golden Gate hotel owner Derek Stevens has a knack for getting his name in the newspaper. It might be unfair to call them publicity stunts, but over the years he has had a number of creative marketing efforts gaining him and his hotels massive media coverage.

- In September 2012 The D refunded losing wagers on the controversial Packers at Seahawks Monday Night Football game commonly known as the Fail Mary. The game was decided on a blown call by the NFL's replacement referees. For a relatively low investment, The D got a ton of publicity from sports media outlets around the world.

- In early 2014 The D and Golden Gate begin accepting bitcoins as payment for hotel rooms and related purchases. This allowed Stevens to appear in a prime time interview on CNBC along with getting lots of press from other financial and technology publications.

- Before the 2015 Final Four Derek Stevens revealed that he had placed a $20,000 bet on the long-shot Michigan State Spartans that would pay $1 million if they won the championship. Michigan State ultimately lost - but not before ESPN, USA Today, The New York Times, and every other newspaper known to man wrote about Derek's big bet.

- On July 8, 2015 Stevens tweeted saying someone had stolen The D's Blarney Stone after playing Sigma Derby. The theif returned the Blarney Stone the next day blaming his bad decision making on Tequila. The man was not charged. When asked if this was a planned publicity stunt, Stevens was quoted as saying "I wish I were smart enough to have come up with something that good, but no."

- In September 2015 Derek Stevens and The D unveiled their newest attraction - a replica version of the famous Manneken Pis statue in Brussels, Belgium. To hype up the arrival of the statue The D published a wacky video of Derek Stevens holding an "executive board meeting" announcing that The D had signed the longest entertainment contract in Las Vegas history.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Insert Coins has Closed

Downtown Las Vegas video game bar Insert Coins has closed according to Vital Vegas.

I was JUST thinking about this place the other day. I hadn't heard anything about it for a while (essentially since it had opened) so I was wondering if it was still around. When I did a quick search it looked like it was still open, but given the lack of buzz around it I'm not surprised in the least bit that it has closed.

Insert Coins was one of the bars that has helped lead the downtown resurgence over the past five years. It's sad to see a unique place like this close. I thought Insert Coins along with Swingers Club - the mini golf bar at The Plaza had potential to be fun, different places to hang out. Both seemed to struggle after the initial buzz though (although Insert Coins lasted way longer than Swingers Club).

The number of people who would be attracted to a classic video game bar seems like a small niche. It's also hard to have places like this in Las Vegas where most tourists would rather play video poker or craps. It makes me wonder how Top Golf will do when it opens next year at MGM Grand. That's a more established concept, but will people go there with so many other entertainment options? Would a Dave and Busters try opening on the Strip? Probably not.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

TheTrooper97 Vlog on YouTube Review

TheTrooper97 is a guy who moved to Las Vegas to pursue his dream of being a professional poker player. He documents his life by taking a camera everywhere he goes and posts videos to his YouTube channel a few times a week.

When I first discovered TheTrooper97 I thought he came off as a little abrasive. He definitely has an "in your face" style in his videos, complete with plenty of foul language. After watching more and more videos though he became more likable and his Starbucks fueled rants became more endearing. After watching about 10 episodes I'm officially hooked and can't wait to binge watch the back catalog.

My favorite part of the vlog is the Las Vegas scenery. The establishing shots of different Vegas hotels that start every episode are downright cinematic. It's really surprising how good these shots are considering it's just one guy with a point and shoot camera. Sometimes I find myself thinking "how did he get that shot" and wondering where he is shooting from (spoiler alert: parking garages). The music is also great and usually matches the mood of the corresponding video. Some of the videos capture the gritty side of Las Vegas rarely seen in mainstream productions.

TheTrooper mostly plays poker at Planet Hollywood. I'd like to see him explore other casinos around town, but I'm sure that will come eventually. Poker is the main topic of the vlog but there's plenty of other stuff to keep non-poker fans entertained. If you're someone like me who likes to watch anything Las Vegas related then you should probably head over to TheTrooper97Vlog YouTube Channel and check out the videos.

I'm predicting this vlog is going to get really popular really soon. He already has a following among poker players but as far as I know the "Vegas" community hasn't really picked up on it. I haven't heard of any Las Vegas blogs or podcasts mentioning TheTrooper97... yet.

I tried to pick a couple of videos that I feel are representative of the vlog with some good Vegas footage and came up with these two. Warning: Rated R language. Enjoy.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

MGM Sells Circus Circus Reno

MGM Resorts International is exiting the Reno market by selling their two Reno properties Circus Circus Reno and Silver Legacy Resort Casino Reno to Eldorado Resorts for $72.5 million.

MGM and Eldorado already had a 50/50 joint ownership stake in Silver Legacy so that will be an easy transition.

Circus Circus is a little more interesting since there's also a Circus Circus in Las Vegas. MGM's willingness to sell the Reno version might give an indication of how they feel about Circus Circus Las Vegas. MGM has insisted that Circus Circus isn't going anywhere and is a valuable part of their Las Vegas portfolio, but this transaction makes me think twice about what the future may hold.

Eldorado is also an interesting company. They recently merged with MTR Gaming and have been doing pretty well since then. Eldorado's expansion makes me wonder if they'll ever make a run at Las Vegas. They sort of remind me of Penn National - the company that recently bought the Tropicana.

Would a Circus Circus Las Vegas sale to Eldorado Resorts sometime in the future be completely out of the question? I think it could happen.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Milwaukee Bucks Eyeing MGM Arena?

The Milwaukee Bucks NBA team is threatening to move to Las Vegas if they don't get a new arena. According to multiple reports the Bucks are seeking up to $250 million of public funding which would pay for half the cost of a new arena in Milwaukee.

Most people think this is just a scare tactic and the Bucks will remain in Wisconsin. However Las Vegas is becoming a very attractive option for hockey and basketball teams because of the brand new MGM arena that is currently being built on the Strip.

Every team wants to play in a nice arena, and Las Vegas will have one of the nicest. I think getting an NHL hockey team is more likely for Las Vegas than getting an NBA basketball team, but I would't be surprised if either happened in the very near future.

Monday, July 06, 2015

Las Vegas Cowboy Sheriff Ralph Lamb dies at 88

Legendary Las Vegas lawman Ralph Lamb has died at the age of 88.

Lamb was known for doing battle with the mafia in the early days of Las Vegas. He was famous for his old school tactics, but part of his legacy was bringing Clark County into the modern age - ultimately helping to form the Metro Police Department.

A Nevada born Las Vegas fixture, Lamb even had a close relationship with Steve Wynn.

Lamb's life was loosely portrayed by Dennis Quaid in the CBS drama "Vegas" which ran from 2012-2013.

I watched "Vegas", and while the show had potential they focused too much on the procedural aspect and only scratched the surface of the more interesting story-lines of the mob in Las Vegas.

Bugsy, Casino and The Godfather have already touched on early mob-controlled Las Vegas - but I feel like old Las Vegas would be still be a great setting for a dramatic movie or TV show if done right.

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Gary Loveman out at Caesars Entertainment

July 1, 2015 marked the end of an era for Caesars Entertainment as CEO Gary Loveman stepped down and new CEO Mark Frissora took over. Loveman will stay on as the company’s chairman.

It's been a rough few years for Loveman as the company has slid into a partial bankruptcy, but was it his fault?

Las Vegas fans love to pile on Loveman for not maintaining properties, and buying new hotels when the company didn't necessarily have the money (Planet Hollywood). Las Vegas wasn't actually the problem though.

The real problems for Caesars were:

Not being in Macau: During the economic downturn the other Las Vegas companies were able to lean on the success in Macau to help stem the tide in Las Vegas. Caesars didn't have that luxury.

Atlantic City and regional weakness: Having many properties all over the country was a blessing during boom times, but it was a curse during the downturn as Atlantic City and other regional markets got crushed. Caesars had to take the brunt of this unlike the other big Las Vegas companies.

No one will feel sorry for Gary Loveman and his golden parachute, but he was facing some unique obstacles that were tough to overcome.

While people criticize what he did in Las Vegas, The Linq and The Cromwell turned out to be good remodels, and the High Roller will definitely be a staple on the Vegas skyline for years to come.