3
Oct

BOARDWALK PLAYGROUND is now available

bp_150The day has arrived: Boardwalk Playground, my latest book, is now available for purchase via Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

This book started as a series of columns for Casino Connection magazine, and I have edited, updated, and supplemented those original columns to bring the story up to date. Unlike my earlier books, this one isn’t just about gambling or casinos–there are 124 years of non-casino history in Atlantic City that take up most of the book.

You can visit the Boardwalk Playground site to read more about the book, or just head over to Amazon, which will have more info and, hopefully soon, some customer reviews.

The book is also available for Kindle, and will be on other ebook platforms (iBook, Nook, Kobo) in a few months. This time, I’m trying out the Kindle Select program, which requires that the ebook be exclusive to Kindle. Once the Kindle version is well established, I will make it available on other platforms.

I’d like to thank everyone who got the book this far, particularly my Kickstarter backers. Thank you for helping me do what I love.

23
Jun

Caesars’ Room Art Gives Guests Something to Gawk At – Vegas Seven

Reading the VegasTripping review of the new Julius Tower rooms, I was struck by the art. So I wrote my latest Green Felt Journal about it:

Usually, hotel room art at best presents a regional accent; at worst, it says nothing and moves no one. For the creatives at KNA Design, the distinctly Caesars touch was essential.

Read more: Caesars’ Room Art Gives Guests Something to Gawk At – Vegas Seven

This was a lot of fun to write. It’s fascinating to learn how much thought goes into room design.

15
Jun

Money in the Bank & Big E in Vegas Seven

I’ve got two pieces in this week’s Vegas Seven about the upcoming Money in the Bank pay per view at T-Mobile Arena. This first is a look at the event itself:

Oh, Las Vegas, don’t you dare be sour … come to the T-Mobile Arena and feel the power.

For the first time in eight years, the WWE is bringing one of its sports entertainment spectaculars to town when its Money in the Bank pay-per-view headlines the new arena June 19.

Read more: T-Mobile Banking on Big Entertainment With WWE

The second is an interview with the New Day’s Big E:

The New Day’s Big E, who will help defend the trio’s tag team belts in a Fatal 4-Way match, will be a big (pun slightly intended) part of the action. Here he shares his thoughts on the match itself, competing in Las Vegas, what the fans don’t appreciate (yet) and much more, including unicorns and a time machine.

Read more: One on One With WWE Superstar Big E

The WWE media folks were very helpful in connecting me with Big E on a tight deadline, and it was fun to get to write about this.  I’m really looking forward to all of the matches but now I’m particularly excited for the Fatal 4-Way.

9
Jun

How Seasonal Are Gaming and Tourism? – Vegas Seven

In this week’s Green Felt Journal, I take a look at seasonality in Las Vegas:

How seasonal are gaming and tourism in Las Vegas? My hometown, Atlantic City, had a well-defined busy season: Memorial Day to just after Labor Day (the Miss America Pageant was created to extend the summer an extra week). Vegas has its fluctuations, too, but they are harder to characterize. 

Read more: How Seasonal Are Gaming and Tourism? – Vegas Seven

This started with me just wondering how seasonal the business is; I know I’d looked at it before but hadn’t bothered the write it down. So now I’ve got some spreadsheets and some graphs that didn’t make it into print. Like so many other things I look at, there is no  easy answer.

26
May

E-sports Start to Take Hold of Casinos’ Imaginations – Vegas Seven

This week’s Green Felt Journal is a night in the life of an esports lounge in a Las Vegas casino. In other words, exactly what I thought I’d be writing about when I went to graduate school. I love that this is a concept that you might not be able to explain if you time traveled back to the 1960s, just like you couldn’t explain a craps pit if you traveled back a little further:

A bunch of millennials playing video games on a Saturday night in Las Vegas. Not too long ago, that might have been a casino operator’s nightmare. But in the last few months and with accelerating velocity, competitive video game playing—e-sports, as it is best known—has become a reality, just steps away from roulette wheels and slot machines. Read more: E-sports Start to Take Hold of Casinos’ Imaginations – Vegas Seven

I think that this is a compelling story for casinos and will continue to be for a long time.

12
May

Betting on Locals – Vegas Seven

From this week’s Green Felt Journal:

Last year, I wrote that locals gaming was on the rebound (“Locals Casinos Are Back in Business,” July 8). At the time, several indicators suggested it was in the midst of a resurgence after several rough years. Its revival has become even more apparent thanks to recent moves by two locals giants. Read more: Betting on Locals – Vegas Seven

Since I wrote that, Red Rock bought the Palms, which answers the question “what next” in the short term. Long term, I would expect to see more expansion from both companies.

29
Apr

LVCVA Visitor Study Reveals Who’s Really Coming to Town – Vegas Seven

In this week’s Green Felt Journal, I look at the numbers in this year’s LVCVA Visitor Profile Survey:

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority recently released its 2015 visitor profile study. This report, based on interviews with Vegas visitors, charts the behavioral and demographic shifts in the population of those who come to town. The results for this year raise more questions than they answer. Read more: LVCVA Visitor Study Reveals Who’s Really Coming to Town – Vegas Seven

This is always quite a source of numbers. It is fascinating to see how visitation is shifting.

21
Apr

A Community Garden Takes Root – Vegas Seven

In this week’s Vegas Seven, I wrote about one of my favorite places, the Vegas Roots Community Garden:

Urban farming is on the rise across the country. School, community, backyard and even rooftop farms and gardens are becoming more prominent in American cities from New York to Los Angeles. Las Vegas has its own urban agriculture pioneer, Rosalind Brooks.

More: A Community Garden Takes Root – Vegas Seven

This was a lot of fun to write. You should definitely check the garden out and, if you are a local business, think about sponsoring a plot.

14
Apr

Moulin Rouge Rebirth? – Vegas Seven

My latest Green Felt Journal is a brief look at a group that is proposing a revival of the fabled Moulin Rouge on Las Vegas’s Westside:

That interest, though, never translated into meaningful action, which leads us to 2016. Scott Johnson, president of Moulin Rouge Holdings LLC, is committed to change on the Westside. His family has owned small businesses in the area for more than a half-century. Born in Arkansas, he’s been in Las Vegas for 30 years. But why take on the Moulin Rouge? Read more: Moulin Rouge Rebirth? – Vegas Seven

As I discuss in the articles, over the years there have been numerous attempts to first reopen and, lately, rebuild the Moulin Rouge. Here’s hoping that this one happens.

7
Apr

Why T-Mobile Arena Is a Game Changer – Vegas Seven

In this week’s Vegas Seven, I have a feature story that puts the just-opened T-Mobile Arena into historical context:

Casinos that followed—from the Hotel Last Frontier to the Tropicana—included dinner theaters as a matter of course; they were as necessary to a complete resort as rooms and gaming tables. This classic Las Vegas venue blossomed fully in the Sands’ Copa Room. Other theaters hosted plenty of stars, but the Copa distilled everything Las Vegas of the 1950s and 1960s stood for into an intimate, 385-seat space. It opened along with the rest of the Sands in December 1952 with a show featuring Danny Thomas, and would go on to host many of the day’s hottest casino attractions, most famously the Rat Pack. Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. defined an era of Vegas cool.

Read more: Why T-Mobile Arena Is a Game Changer – Vegas Seven

In the article, I tried to relate how each of the “milestone” venues that I discuss represented, in its own way, its era. Looking at history helped me appreciate that so much about the T-Mobile Arena–from the emphasis on luxury to paid parking–spells out just where Las Vegas is today.

It’s easy to be wowed (or annoyed) by all of the coverage of the arena’s opening. But when that PR press has ended, what’s left? I know that researching this article raised plenty of questions for me. I hope that reading it inspires more questions, and maybe a few answers.

1
Apr

A Winning Parlay – Vegas Seven

In this week’s Green Felt Journal, I consider the place of sports betting and DFS in Las Vegas. It’s growing:

In the throes of March Madness, sports betting is just about omni-present in Las Vegas. States across the nation are legalizing daily fantasy sports. Locally, speculation about possible NHL tenants of the T-Mobile Arena or the wisdom of building a UNLV stadium that may host an NFL team is dominating much conversation. That makes this a good time to consider the evolving relationship between Las Vegas and sports betting.

More: A Winning Parlay – Vegas Seven

I just had a nice chat on Twitter about my $760 million number. It’s just a guess, based on Nevada, of what US commercial casinos might make from sports betting when the market is mature. That is assuming that the rest of the country has the same proportion of sports betting/overall casino win as Nevada.

You could argue that the percentage would be lower, since Nevada has a high proportion of visitors who bet and people who move to Las Vegas to pursue legal sports betting. Nevada might not be a great model for the percentage of sports bettors in the overall US population. So maybe, nationally, the percentage is less than 2% of total gaming win.

Or you could say that with the opportunity to bet legally regularly, more Americans would be drawn to sports betting, in which case the number may be higher than 2%.

So the $760 million is just a projection of the current Nevada number, which may or may not be an accurate estimate of a national market. But it’s as good a number as any to start the conversation.