Mandalay Bay Getting Major Facelift

Mandalay Bay has been undergoing a major facelift over the past year or so and will continue through much of this year. It’s about time.

Owner MGM Resorts Internationalembarked on a massive renovation of the 3,000-room resort, the first since it opened in 1999. Construction began late last year and is expected to be completed by summer.

A second phase of construction, slated to start this summer, will rebrand The Hotel as the Delano Las Vegas, with a projected 2014 opening date. MGM officials would not disclose the cost of the projects.

Las Vegas casinos, generally, do some kind of renovation every 6 to 8 years so these changes to Mandalay Bay are a little overdue. Most of the renovations have been annouced piece by piece and none stand alone as being awesome but when but together they have a little more meaning. Vegas Chatter breaks down the changes nicely.

  1. Michael Jackson Cirque Du Soleil Production
  2. Light
  3. The Delano
  4. A New Adult Day Club Experience
  5. Citizens Kitchen
  6. Another Light Group Restaurant
  7. A New Food Court
  8. Resto Redos
  9. The Casino
  10. A “Lobby-Lounge Experience”

Unfortunately the Mandalay Bay hotel rooms will NOT be renovated as part of the overall updates to the property. I guess that’s a good incentive to spend money on the more expensive rooms at The Delano or Four Seasons.

When I first started visiting Las Vegas, Mandalay Bay was my go-to casino to stay. They had beautiful and large rooms that were always a decent price. The rooms had an amazing oatmeal soap that I’ll never forget. They also had a light in the closet that turned on when the doors were opened. These two things were luxurious to me at the time.

Since I moved to Las Vegas I’ve barely spent time at Mandalay Bay because it’s secluded from the rest of the strip. Having low to mid tier properties (Luxor and Excalibur) blocking it from the rest of the strip does not help. Hopefully these renovations build a new life into Mandalay Bay and give me an excuse to go back in time.

Photo: flickr – judithlynn

Tweet me @eastcoastgamblr

 

Blue Chip Blues

$1 Chip At The Quad Las Vegas
$1 Chip At The Quad

I saw the Pulse of Vegas Blog post the new chips for The Quad yesterday and I got slightly upset. Upset probably isn’t the right word, bothered may be a better word.

Their $1 chips will be blue. I don’t like that. In my time gaming I’ve been using the color of the chips instead of the denomination when requesting chips. With there now being silver, whites and blues it makes that a bit more cumbersome and, seriously, who wants to ask for the blues when they’re at the casino. Nobody!

  • “Just green please” – playing $25 blackjack
  • “Just red please” – playing $15 blackjack
  • “Can I get some whites please?” or “Can I get silver please?” – tip time.

I use $1 chips to tip cocktail waitresses until I’ve had too much to drink, then it goes to up to reds ($5 chips). I think I’m going to have to go old school with my chip requests in the future:

“Can I get bullets please” – future tip time.

Even though it’s not PC to say bullets anymore it may be time to go that route when I ask for $1 chips since I don’t like asking for 1’s or blues.

PS: Imperial Palace officially becomes The Quad today. (Link goes to 30% off rooms at The Quad)

Photo – POV Blog

 

Casino And Hotels As A Separate Business

Is the separation of casinos business and hotel business and retail business a good thing? Penn National thinks it’s good business. A few weeks ago they split their casino and hotel businesses into two separate companies.

Penn National Gaming has announced that it will split itself into an operating company and a REIT. The casino properties will be cleft between the two entities, with Penn National leasing most of them from the REIT.

A REIT is short for Real Estate Investment Trust. Separating the hotel and casino operations wasn’t only done because it may be good business, but it was also done to save in taxes.

OK, let’s get right to the bottom line: This is a big-ass tax dodge. REITs are exempt from federal taxes. Ergo, Penn rents property to itself and then is “required by law to distribute at least 90 percent of [its] taxable earnings to shareholders as dividends.”

This sounds half like a sketchy big business avoiding taxes but also like smart business move that may provide better service to the customer on both the hotel and casino businesses. Service should become better since employees will be concerned with less and able to focus on creating better experiences.

Penn National is the only company doing this right now, but Seeking Alpha thinks that seperating hotel, casino and mall business would be a good idea for Las Vegas Sands (LVS) (The Venetian & The Palazzo).

LVS is known for its exceptional gaming and lodging brand, but the company’s value proposition is centered on three different (and integrated) business models: Malls, Lodging, and Gaming. Collectively, the company’s three platforms provide tremendous value, and individually, the pieces appear to be worth more than the whole.

I don’t think that big businesses are always able look to the customer first. Take LVS, their priority is split between casinos, hotels and malls on multiple continents. Taking 2/3rds of the worry out of the hands of one person, for example, and handing it to 3 experts in different fields should help make each company operate better.

Additionally if employee bonuses are tied to the performance of their individual company as opposed to all 3 divisions as one company there isn’t the ability to let focus go on a division.

This should produce a better experience for the customer. On the surface, I think separating casinos from hotel and malls could be a good thing for everyone.

Photo – kinchloe

Baccarat: Casinos Best Friend and Worst Enemy

Monthly casino gaming revenues take into account baccarat along with all other games you’ll find on the casino floor. Baccarat is a high roller game and wins and losses for players and casinos are drastic.

baccarat is showing the greatest strength in the casinos. “Baccarat figures are volatile,” said Lawton, who predicts baccarat win will increase 5 percent this fiscal year and increase an estimated 3 to 4 percent in the coming biennium.

Maddox said the Wynn properties market to the high-end players. He said the casinos “overly rely on 150 international customers willing to wager millions of dollars.”

I don’t write, or talk, about baccarat much because 1) I find the game boring and 2) when I was learning how to play the game in Atlantic City a friend and I were called Gweilo (AKA “White Devil”) by one of the Asian players at my table. I don’t need that in my life.

High rollers play baccarat since it has such great odds and fair returns on their money spent. Since big baccarat games (the game held in their own room and not mini baccarat on the casino floor) have such an impact on casino and overall state gaming revenue it comes as no surprise that casinos would focus on bringing in baccarat players.

Baccarat is basically an even odds game so the hefty wagers can swing casino revenue one way or the other in a day, let alone a quarter or year. Since the game is essentially a coin flip it’s no surprise that it’s expected to continue to grow in popularity.

Even though most baccarat players are high(er) rollers it’s interesting that Wynn Las Vegas only focuses on 150 players to make satisfy their baccarat income for any given month. These are the highest of the high rollers.

This is something to take into account when you’re a medium roller (like me) wondering why your $25 blackjack or $1 video poker play isn’t gaining much in return from the players clubs at casinos have baccarat (Not all casinos have big baccarat games). If casinos lose a few medium rollers it doesn’t directly effect their bottom line. It’s another story if they lose one of these 150 big baccarat players gambling millions of dollars on a weekend.

This is simply common sense but the reminder of how significant your play is to a casino allows you to manage your expectations and keep things fun at the casino. I know I can use the reminder after a bad weekend of gambling at Encore and Wynn.

Slot Machines Leaving Casinos

Bubble Craps
Bubble Craps

Whenever I walk into a casino I’m greeted by hundreds of slot machines. When I went to G2E much of the gaming area of the convention seemed to be taken up by new slot machines. However, slot machines are actually leaving the casino floor.

The number of slot machines (in Nevada) fell from 165,995 to 158,788 in the past year

To go along with the number of slot machines decreasing so have revenues. There is a shift in non-table gaming happening right now at casinos. Older slot machines are making way for newer games and all of those games aren’t slot machines.

Some of the new games taking over for slot machines are electronic table games like the Shoot To Win Craps machine pictured above from Aruze Gaming. This is just one of a series of G-Machine games I’ve seen appearing in casinos more and more often. The blackjack games have been around for a while but the Big Wheel game seems to be growing in popularity. I even saw people playing it for the first time at Planet Hollywood this weekend.

These games take up a good amount of space on each casino floor and probably replace around 8-12 games. If these games really are increasing in popularity we can expect to see more of them. These games probably won’t replace too many older reel slot machines because the old white-haired ladies like them and they make up the majority of slot machine players. Rather, we’ll probably see less variety in new slot machines. Boo.

Photo: Vegas Inc.

Station Casinos – Who Ya Got?

A judge OK’d Station Casinos request to sell 11 of their properties in Las Vegas.  Now that they can sell the casino’s who do you think is going to bid for them of the following?

Mentioned as potential bidders are Boyd Gaming Corp, Ameristar Casinos, Penn National Gaming, Cannery Casino Resorts and the Palms.

My money remains on Boyd Gaming, unless they decide to purchase MGM’s half of Borgata in Atlantic City.  So, who ya got?

Fiesta

Photo: Las Vegas Sun

Las Vegas Building Timeline

There has been a lot of building stoppages and delays in Las Vegas.  Vegas Tripping has created a nice visual representation of what and when each project is scheduled to be completed.  There’s also a nice little trash can to note which projects have been shelved.

timeline-vegas08-14-v3-lg3

A lot of projects have been pushed back or postponed.  I haven’t been to the Golden Nugget in a few years so I’m looking forward to seeing the new changes when I visit.  I love seeing a visual perspective on things like this.  Thanks Vegas Tripping.

$20 Trick – Las Vegas

I was advised to take a look at Front Desk Tip after my last trip to Las Vegas.  The premise is simple.  Slip the front desk person $20 at check in and ask for an upgraded room.  We all like upgrades!

Here are instructions from the site:

Why tip $20 at the front desk?
This gives you an opportunity to get an upgraded room/suite for cheap. This has become a common practice at hotels across the world.

Any tips on tipping?
In general people seem to have a better success rate with males 25-35.
It’s also advised to go at a later time (~10pm) because hotels tend to overbook and by this time, they should know which rooms are available.

How should I tip?
There is no secret sign or password. You basically tip the front desk and ask for a complimentary upgrade.

1. When you go to the front desk to check into a hotel, they will ask for a credit card or driver’s license.
2. Put a $20 bill between or under your driver’s license and credit card.
3. Ask the clerk if there are any complimentary upgrades.
4. Most clerks will know to give you back the money if they cannot offer you the upgrade.

If it fails?
It can be embarrassing. You can come down later to talk to another clerk for a different room or just enjoy your time.

I’ve never done this because I haven’t had to, but it seems worth it.  The success rates seem pretty good, and if you don’t get the upgrade all you lose is $20 and a little pride.

I’m not sure if I’ll do this on my upcoming trip since I’m Diamond @ Caesars and use VIP check in.  I’ve never needed to bust out extra cash for a nice room.  Any advice would be great.  Below is a screenshot of Front Desk Tip.

fdt2