Hard Rock Hotel Opens Paradise Tower Today!

Today is a very special day in Las Vegas as the Hard Rock hotel and casino opens their new tower today – the Paradise Tower.  Looking at the website it looks as if the new tower will be non-themed, clean and modern.  Here’s the room description from the HRC website:

The trendsetting Paradise Tower combines rock ‘n’ roll decadence with style and sophistication to create an energetic vibe that can only be found in the Hard Rock Las Vegas. All rooms will include high speed internet access via TV or wireless, 42” plasma TV with first run movies on demand, Bose CD stereo, minibar, top-of-the-line exclusive bath amenities and ultra luxurious top of the line bedding.

Doesn’t read like anything special to me.  The opening continues the Hard Rock’s expansion which has included a new location for The Joint and some new clubs.  These improvments haven’t done much for me, but I’m guessing I’m not their target client.

Catching Up With Casino Stocks

Casinos that are publicly owned and traded on the stock market reported earnings from the second quarter this week.  Here’s a rundown of who did what.  I’ll let you decifer for yourself.

Pinnacle has a profitable quarter.

Penn National reports a fall in profit.

Wynn net income falls 90%.

Las Vegas Sands reports 2nd quarter loss.

Station Casinos files for Chapter 11

Station Casinos Logo

Station Casinos filed for Chapter 11 yesterday.  This day has seemingly been around the corner for a while now and it was only a matter of time for this to happen.  Chapter 11 doesn’t mean that a company will shut down.  Rather, it gives a business time to recover from their economic struggles with government protection.

Bill Lerner, an analyst for Union Gaming in Las Vegas, said the bankruptcy filing will give Station more time to negotiate with lenders. Under bankruptcy law, Station likely will have several months to exclusively propose a plan of reorganization.

The real question is what Station Casinos will look like if it makes it through chapter 11.  Odds are that it will become a little more streamlined as they sell off some assets to pay off debt.

Lerner said he is sure Las Vegas-based Boyd Gaming Corp. will seek some of the assets during the bankruptcy process, and said he wouldn’t be surprised if Penn National Gaming — which is interested in expanding to Las Vegas — also takes a look at the assets.

I’m obviously not a Las Vegas local but I have a soft spot for the locals casinos.  I like the option they provide for the local consumer and for me when I travel in.  The Gold Coast is almost always a stop for me when I visit Las Vegas.  Competition is always good for the customer.  Whether Station keeps all of their casinos or they sell some to Boyd I hope the competition lives with good management and good service for all.

Front Desk Tip Dot Com

I was looking at some of my favorite websites this evening and notice that Front Desk Tip dot com had a make over and thought it was worth sharing.

Frontdesktip.com was one of the first sites I wrote about for ECG.  Front Desk Tip is the home for how to get room upgrades in Las Vegas.  Does the trick work anywhere else?  That’s debatable.  I’ve heard yes and no.  The “How To” section has been expanded since I last looked so take a look at the instructions if you need a starter.

I’ve never tried this for an upgrade because I am usually travelling on comps, but my next trip to Las Vegas will likely be paid for and I will certainly try this.

Which hotel has the best odds for a room upgrade?  In order they are:

  1. Palazzo
  2. Mirage
  3. Planet Hollywood

The good news is that these are all places that I would consider staying where I wouldn’t receive comps yet.  I will likely be staying at the Palazzo on my next trip so I’m looking forward to the experiment.

Overall, I really like the new design of Front Desk Tip and found the site easy on the eyes and will probably visit more.  I encourage you to take a whirl if you are planning a trip.  Who doesn’t like a cheap upgrade in Las Vegas!?

The Government Wants You To Gamble

Legalized gambling has exploded over the past few years and there’s more on the way.  Various members of the government have discussed why they’re approving more gambling in their states with Bloomberg.  The simple reason is that there is less tax revenue coming into the states and gambling is a way to help.

Three U.S. states are pushing plans for video poker and slot machines as their legislators hope gambling income will compensate for declines in taxes.

Ohio lawmakers passed a budget last week that includes $933 million in projected revenue from 17,500 slot machines to be installed by May at horse-racing tracks statewide. Illinois legalized video poker in taverns to raise $300 million annually to support $31 billion in infrastructure improvements.

Pennsylvania would get a projected $550 million a year by legalizing video poker in bars, according to a bill awaiting consideration in the state’s House of Representatives.

I love to gamble, but for me part of the allure was that it wasn’t something I could just do anywhere.  I’m sure I’m different than most people that gamble and I don’t see myself changing, but at some point enough is enough.

This opens up quite a few questions.  What will payouts be for these casinos?  When will marijuana become legal?  When will prostitution become legal?  Where will it end?

Budgets never seem to get smaller and there will always be a need for revenue.  I’m not the moral compass for anyone but myself, but these are questions that can be asked.  I’ll just stick to gambling because that’s more fun for me.

Slot Machine Payouts – July 13

The latest slot machine payouts from Gambling Teachers was released on July 13th.  I missed June payouts, but it seems as if payouts are slightly less than the May reports.  These payouts include all machines: video poker, keno and slots.

I only post the areas where I visit, but you can find the full report on gamblingteachers.com.  The following are total machine payout %’s for all denominations.

Atlantic  City Payout %
Borgata         91.7
Trump Taj Mahal     91.4 *
Resorts         91.4 *
Harrah’s        91.3 *

Connecticut
Mohegan Sun        91.5 *
Foxwoods         91.4 *

Nevada
Reno             95.1
North Las Vegas     94.0 *
Downtown Las Vegas     93.4 *
Las Vegas Strip     92.8 *
Lake Tahoe         92.3 *

* — Denotes change in casino rankings or areas since last reporting.

If you are curious to see where the best video poker pay tables are you can check vpFREE, which is my main video poker reference.

Atlantic  City     Payout %
Borgata         91.7
Trump Taj Mahal     91.4 *
Resorts         91.4 *
Harrah’s        91.3 *

Connecticut
Mohegan Sun        91.5 *
Foxwoods         91.4 *

Nevada
Reno             95.1
North Las Vegas     94.0 *
Downtown Las Vegas     93.4 *
Las Vegas Strip     92.8 *
Lake Tahoe         92.3 *

* — Denotes change in casino rankings or areas since last reporting.

Can “The Naked Gun” Now Sue Las Vegas Sands?

Las Vegas Sands owns The Palazzo where I had an awesome steam at Carne Vino earlier this year.  The casino company is suing Palazzo Design Corp of Houston, Texas for trademark infringement.

Another trademark dispute is brewing on the Las Vegas Strip, this one over the sale of “Palazzo” clothing items such as T-shirts at the Palazzo hotel-casino.

Las Vegas Sands Corp.’s Palazzo hotel-casino sued Palazzo Design Corp. of Houston on Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas.

Attorneys for the hotel-casino said in the suit that the Houston company claims to have the exclusive rights to sell Palazzo clothing items — a claim disputed by the Las Vegas Sands attorneys.

This should be cut and dry.  Whoever owns the trademark in the appropriate category owns the right to do what they want with the name.  I don’t want to deal with trademark law because it sucks and is boring.  I’ve never seen a Palazzo t-shirt, but I’ll look in the gift shop on my next trip to Las Vegas.

This leads me to question why Paramount, creators of the movie Naked Gun, didn’t trademark the name Enrico Palazzo, a favorite character of many.  If they did they could have made hundreds, maybe thousands, in merchandising products with the name Enrico Palazzo.  I would have purchased numerous items.   I guess we’ll never know.

If you’d like to see Enrico Palazzo in action enjoy the videos below.

Naked Gun is one of my favorite movies of all time.  If you don’t own it – you should.  A link to purchase is below.

Video Poker: Random Until You Press Draw

I’m prepping for another trip to Atlantic City and noticed that the vpFREE2 databases haven’t been updated since my last trip so all pay tables remain the same.  I was hunting on the message boards for any updates and found nothing.  I did find a question that I’ve seen and been asked more than a few times and thought I’d answer for the first time on ECG.

Does the video poker machine continue shuffling after you hold your cards and before you hit draw?

The answer to this question is yes, after you hold your cards the remaining cards continue shuffling and your result continues to be truly random.  So it does matter when you hit the draw button.  So the hand you’re dealt changes every nano second you wait.

I’m a slightly superstitious type so if I’m dealt 4 cards to a royal flush I’ll kiss my fingers, ask a friend to hit draw, move a certain way, look a certain direction or wait and usually not get the card I want.  What do you do?

Harrah’s Big Plan For Las Vegas? Food, Drink, Ferris Wheel

Harrah’s owns quite a few properties in the middle of the Las Vegas strip.  Take a look at the “who owns what” map on Vegas Today & Tomorrow for a visual.  There have been plenty of guesses over the past few years on what Harrah’s plans are now that they own most of the properties in the area.

Two years ago they decided that they wouldn’t implode any of the casinos to build a new mega-resort as they want to keep Caesars Palace as their top tier casino.  Instead, Harrah’s plan is Project Link.

..the plan calls for a collection of about 20 restaurants and bars to be built along a winding corridor between the company’s O’Sheas and Flamingo casinos, on the east side of the Strip.

With a mix of “eclectic” and “mostly casual” restaurants and bars opening to the street, it’s an attempt to create the kind of entertainment district that has developed organically in cities such as Los Angeles, Memphis and New Orleans yet is lacking on the Strip, with its enclosed, casino-centric zones.

At the end of the 1,000-foot pedestrian walkway, Harrah’s wants to build a giant Ferris wheel similar to the London Eye and the Singapore Flyer. The wheel would tower about 600 feet, offering sweeping views, plush interiors and a slow ride.

This would cost less than tearing down and building up a new casino.   It would also play to Harrah’s strong point, which is the middle class type of consumer.  The cluster of stores and restaurants would allow Harrah’s to keep costomers close to their properties.

When I visit Las Vegas I like to treat myself above my usual means of living.  So while this idea isn’t attractive to me, I can see this working.  There are plenty of people that visit Las Vegas that would enjoy something like this and there are plenty of websites devoted to “cheap Las Vegas.”  Again, this fits nicely into Harrah’s overall marketing.

It’s currently difficult to obtain financing for a lot of businesses and with the mountain of debt Harrah’s already has this idea probably won’t come to light any time too soon.  A cynic would say this Las Vegas Sun article was floated out so Harrah’s can try to get the financing needed.  By the time financing is found the idea may have passed it’s time.

Bottom line:  This isn’t for me and I don’t see Harrah’s getting this project started or finished.  Additionally, I don’t see a project with a ferris wheel as an anchor ever happening.

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World Series Of Poker (WSOP) Turns People Away!

World Series Of Poker Logo
World Series Of Poker

For the first time ever the World Series of Poker (WSOP) sold out.  Yesterday’s “Event 4” was sold out and forced Harrah’s to turn away people who traveled from all over the world to compete in the event.  ESPN covers both the poker and the upset non-contestants.

Obviously Harrah’s expected to see a decrease in attendance this year with the hurting economy but there have been more people visiting for the WSOP.  I’m sure “A chip and a chair”, “A dollar and a dream”, and other clichés are on people’s minds right now.  This is tough for anyone that spent the time and money to make the trip out there.  If there were a lot of people turned away I’m sure that an extra day could have been added.  I would guess that there weren’t many effected.  The negative PR by a few won’t dissuade the masses.  Still – this is lame.