Saturday, October 24, 2015

Rebel Madness at Downtown Events Center

UNLV basketball held Rebel Madness, the official tip-off to basketball season Thursday night outdoors at the Downtown Las Vegas Events Center. This is the first I've heard of a college basketball team holding an event like this outdoors, but I guess it makes sense in the dry Las Vegas climate.

Bringing events like these to downtown has been a vision of The D Las Vegas owner Derek Stevens ever since he purchased the old courthouse land in 2013 and converted it into the Downtown Las Vegas Events Center.

UNLV Basketball tweeted a few pictures of the court being installed at the Events Center:

Photos: UNLV Basketball.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Caesars Palace Julius Tower

Caesars Palace is remodeling and renaming the Roman Tower, which will be transformed into the Julius Tower opening January 1, 2016.

This tower is the oldest at Caesars Palace first opening in 1966. The last major renovation to the tower was back in 2001.

The rooms appear to have a somewhat standard modern look. Very grey with a little bit of gold mixed in. The 55 inch TV is nice, and the bathroom looks huge if we can trust the publicty pics:

Photos: Caesars Palace.

Once the most affordable tower at Caesars Palace, the new upgraded rooms will now be more inline with the rest of the property. Rates will be starting at $149.

The cost of the tower renovation is a cool $75 million. Not small money for a company in bankruptcy, but it appears the courts are allowing the renovation as part of a standard capital expenditure plan. The fact is that real estate needs to be maintained, and even Caesars creditors stand to benefit since a remodel like this will likely bring in much higher revenue for the company.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

MGM set to Charge Parking Garage Fees?

MGM Resorts International will soon charge for parking at their Las Vegas self park garages, according to a report from Vegas Tripping.

Casino companies are willing to nickel and dime their customers endlessly in a quest for higher revenues. Over the years gaming odds on the Strip have declined consistently, and more recently resort fees have become commonplace at almost every Las Vegas hotel.

It's no surprise the bean counters would eventually try to get their hands on one of the remaining free perks left in Vegas.

Gamblers will be upset, but MGM Resorts CEO Jim Murren has recently talked about focusing more on non-gaming clientele saying, "Many of them have no interest in gambling and that's perfectly fine with me."

There might be hope though. The Nevada Gaming Control Board has strict rules regarding access to gaming and according to their guidelines:

"...all gaming establishments in Nevada must remain open to the general public and the access of the general public to gaming activities must not be restricted in any manner..."

I'm not sure if charging for parking would count as restricting access, but hey it's something. Could Gaming Control block MGM from charging for parking?

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Las Vegas Sands Reports Third Quarter 2015 Results

Las Vegas Sands reported third quarter 2015 earnings results earlier today. The weak Macau market caused gaming revenue to decline significantly, but that softness was offset by a strong performance at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore and at Bethlehem Sands in Pennsylvania.

In Las Vegas at the company's Venetian and Palazzo properties gaming revenue was down 22.5%. Non-gaming on the other hand was very strong with rooms up 19.4% and food and beverage up 33.9%.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about today's results was the Sands' decision to raise the quarterly dividend by 10.8% from 65 to 72 cents per share starting in 2016. With the weakness in Macau I was thinking the company might have to keep the dividend steady, or even cut the dividend similar to what Wynn Resorts did recently.

Speaking of Wynn, Steve Wynn's comments about the Macau government and the government's response were bound to be asked about on the Las Vegas Sands earnings conference call.

As expected Sheldon Adelson was overtly respectful to the government saying, "We're in China, let the Chinese decide what they want to do with the concessionaires. Again it's our privilege, it's not our right. So we'll do everything we can to justify getting the blessings from the Macau government. It's their government, it's their right and we'll do whatever they ask us to do."

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Jewel Nightclub to replace Haze at Aria

Hakkasan Group has announced a new nightclub. Jewel will open in the Spring of 2016 in the former Haze nightclub space at Aria.

Haze closed almost a year ago and was operated by The Light Group, which itself was later acquired by Hakkasan.

I think Haze was somewhat of a disappointment from the time it opened. It never was able to match the buzz of more popular clubs in town like Marquee or XS. I wonder if Jewel will be more successful in that space.

This seems to be a prime era for nightclubs to be remodeled and renamed. The once popular Pure at Caesars Palace recently reopened as Omnia.

Tryst at Wynn Las Vegas will also be closing to be remodeled and will likely be renamed and reopened around the same time as Jewel.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Macau Government Responds to Steve Wynn

Steve Wynn verbally lashed out at the Macau government on the Wynn Resorts third quarter earnings conference call last week. Steve is frustrated at the government's restriction on the number of table games a casino is allowed to have.

The Macau government not surprisingly didn't appreciate what Wynn had to say and fired back in kind, issuing a release stating in part:

"The Government says it will not lightly change its policies on the gaming industry and on labour – policies that have been widely supported by the Macao public.

The Government additionally noted that overseeing applications for gaming table allocation for the local casino sector and applications by companies for non-resident labour are executive legal powers of the Macao Government.

The Government also expressed regrets over an opinion from a casino operator – reported by news media outside Macao – relating to the city's gaming policy...

...In order to reiterate the Government's stance and its principles on the gaming policy issue, the Secretary met with representatives of the relevant gaming operator on 18 October."

The release showed a photo of Wynn Macau president Gamal Aziz meeting with government officials. The news of the government response sent WYNN stock price down by more than 6% earlier today.

I have a couple of questions about this whole incident. The first one - was this calculated by Steve Wynn, or did he just fly off the handle at the spur of the moment? The second question is whether the Macau government is serious about their hard line stance on table games.

I have a feeling this is some kind of dog and pony show designed to get Wynn Palace more table games while letting the government save face at the same time.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Passport to Fly to Las Vegas?

If you live in Louisiana, Minnesota, New Hampshire or New York you might have to use a passport to board domestic flights starting in 2016.

Those four states use state issued drivers licenses that do not comply with stricter standards mandated by the federal government according to a CNN Money article.

Minnesota is most affected as their residents will likely have to start using passports on January 1, 2016. The other three states have later deadlines in 2016. Nothing is set in stone though, as extensions could be granted and drivers licenses could be changed to comply.

Las Vegas could be impacted, as three of the four states have listed Las Vegas as their favorite summer travel destination, according to Kayak data.

The need to use a passport could end up being a headache for residents of these states. Getting a new passport is somewhat of a hassle, not to mention the costs. I would imagine many flyers already have passports, but I'm sure many don't.