Useful info you won't find anywhere else

Las Vegas News

I don't currently have the resources to cover a lot of Vegas news,  but I'll try to post some special items here when I can find the time.

Trivia: Naughty Sushsi

  August 2011

The next time you're in NY NY, take a picture of the "Chin Chin" sushi/Chinese restaurant on the gaming floor.   Because unbeknownst to just about everyone, "Chin Chin" is the child's word for "penis" in Japanese.  (It's the equivalent of "peepee".)  They named the place after a Chinese word but since they also serve Japanese sushi, the naming is kind of funny.  Now you're one of the only people in on the secret!

Sahara Casino to close

  May 2011

The venerable Sahara Casino is set to close on May 16, 2011.   It's one of the oldest casinos on the strip, and has had quite a history.
  • Opened in 1952
  • 1956 - Abbot & Costello's last public appearance was here
  • 1960 - The original Ocean's Eleven movie was filmed here
  • 1950s & 1960s - A thriving Rat Pack-era casino
  • 1964 - The Beatles stayed here
  • The Jerry Lewis Telethon broadcast from here throughout the 1970s (and sometimes in the 1990s)
  • 1999 - Added "Speed", the roller coaster
After the Sahara closes, the only surviving Rat Pack-era casinos on the Strip will be the Tropicana, Flamingo, and Riviera.

My biggest regret is that I never got around to renting the "Beatles Suite" where the Beatles stayed in 1964.  But I did get to visit the Abbey Road studios, so I guess I shouldn't complain too much.

The closure is bad news for budget-minded consumers, because the Sahara had some of the cheapest rooms on the Strip in recent years, often as low as $31 or so.  R.I.P.

Woman wins $2.9 million jackpot -- and keeps playing

  December 2010

With some interesting irony, a woman named Dorothy won the Wizard of Oz slot jackpot at Planet Hollywood recently.   And within minutes she immediately went back to playing slots.  This isn't a rare occurrence -- big jackpot winners often start playing again right after winning.  That makes me wonder, why were they playing in the first place?  Wasn't it to win the big jackpot?  If so, then congratulations, mission accomplished.  You can stop playing now.  Why keep going?  What's the point?

Cosmopolitan hotel/casino opens

  December 2010

The Cosmopolitan, right next to CityCenter, opened this month, making it the only new casino in Vegas for 2010.   Aria in CityCenter was the only new casino in 2009.  The architecture is kind of interesting, but beyond that, I don't think these new properties add anything interesting to an already-crowded strip, and CityCenter has made a mess of pedestrian travel on the west side of the strip in that area.

Hotel to be demolished -- before it opens!

  November 2010

Old hotels get torn down to make room for new hotels in Vegas all the time.  But here's a twist:  The brand-new Harmon Hotel in City Center is slated to be demolished before it even opens!

The problem is that the building wasn't built according to the proper specs, so there are potential structural and safety concerns.  Apparently the problems aren't fixable -- at least not for less than the cost of starting over from scratch.  So that's what MGM Resorts wants to do, start over from scratch.

More from the LV Review-Journal.

What's new in Vegas since 2008

  November 2010

Has it been a while since you were in Vegas last?  Here's what's happened in the last three years:

  1. There's now a Strip & Downtown Express bus (SDX).  It's much faster than the Deuce, since it makes only a few stops on the strip.  It also goes to the Convention Center, unlike the Deuce.  See more on our Getting around Vegas page.

  2. Bus fares are way up.  A 24-hour Deuce or SDX pass is now $7, up from $5.  The good news is that the pass can be used on both the Deuce and SDX, and any bus in town actually.  The other price hike is that there's no longer a single-trip fare for the strip buses.  The cheapest you can go is $5 for a two-hour pass.

  3. City Center & Palazzo.  City Center is the new complex next to the Monte Carlo, featuring various hotels, one hotel/casino (Aria), and an upscale shopping mall (Crystals).  Personally I think it adds nothing special, and it makes walking the strip way more cumbersome now that you have to detour up and over various walkways.  Palazzo is a little sister hotel/casino to the Venetian, much like Encore is to the Wynn.

  4. New Rides.  The Stratosphere now has the SkyJump, which lets you literally jump off the tower, skydiving 100+ floors to the ground.  (There's no parachute; you're gliding along guide wires which have a braking system built in.)  But it's pricey at $100 a jump.  Cheaper is the new zip line downtown at the Fremont Street Experience, which for $15 to $20 lets you sail straight down Fremont Street.  (See more on our rides page.)

  5. Dancing girls at the table games.  It seems like most Strip casinos now have at least one pit which feature scantily-clad women doing pole dances.  The dealers are usually scantily-clad as well.

Vegas economy / tourism at an all-time low!

  October 2010

The Vegas economy has been bad before, but it's nothing like this.  The drop after 9/11 seems like a little blip compared to what Vegas is going through now.  Tourism is down, unemployment is around 15%, and partially-constructed buildings are sitting around half-finished, since the money to complete them has dried up.  Gaming revenues in Nevada dropped 10.4% in 2009, the biggest drop ever.  This follows a 9.7% drop in 2008.  Nevada has the highest unemployment in America, and has led the nation in housing foreclosures for the last four years.

But this is actually good news for tourists.  It means there's never been a better time to visit Vegas.  Room rates have hit rock bottom, and lines for everything are much shorter.  Rooms can be had on the Strip mid-week for as little as $24 these days.  See for yourself:

Las Vegas Hotel Search

See more about the Vegas economy crash at the New York Times.

Vegas performer Danny Gans passes away

  May 2009

Longtime Vegas comic Danny Gans died at age 52 from the combination of drug toxicity and a pre-existing heart condition.

Gambling Problem?
Call the 800-522-4700 hotline, and read this.

Also, know that Parkinson's drugs encourage gambling

Reason I like Bovada #2:

Good Odds

Bovada online casino ad

The odds are always against you when you gamble, so it pays to play at a casino that offers good odds. I spent some time looking for an online casino with good odds, and I found it in Bovada. Let me first tell you about the competition, though.

It's disappointing that most online casinos are greedy when setting the odds on their games. They think they'll make more money by setting the games tighter, so the player has less chance of winning, but they're wrong. Most gamblers eventually gamble away all their playing budget anyway. They're going to lose the same amount of money no matter what, the only question is how long it takes them to do so. And when they play at a tight casino and lose quickly, they're less likely to return.

A casino which offers good odds will make just as much money as a tight casino, because the players will usually gamble away whatever they deposit anyway, no matter what the odds. The only difference is that with better odds, they'll get to play longer before they go bust. And that means they had more fun in the process, and they're more likely to return.

Bovada is one of they few casinos that understands this. They offer games with good odds, knowing that if your money lasts longer, you'll be a happier, loyal customer. Among their offerings are:

  • Two blackjack games returning over 99.8%
  • Single-0 roulette
  • Full-pay Jacks or Better (99.54%)
  • Nine other video poker games returning over 99%

You don't have to play at Bovada, but wherever you play, make sure they offer odds at least this good!

All in all, I think Bovada is the best bet for U.S. players.

Try their blackjack for free.
One click and you're in.

Gambling problem?
Call the 800-522-4700 hotline, and read this.

Also, know that Parkinson's drugs encourage gambling.