Downtown Vegas Is Taking Me Away From Casinos And I Don’t Like It

Outside Of The Fremont Street Experience Downtown Las Vegas
Outside Of The Fremont Street Experience

It’s funny, gamblers always say that the Vegas Strip can learn something about keeping gamblers in their casino by offering better odds like Downtown Vegas casinos. I think it may be the other way around. Maybe the Downtown Vegas casinos need to improve their bars and restaurants like their counterparts on the Vegas Strip to keep gamblers like me happy.

A couple of weeks ago I spent a day and night in Downtown Vegas. I stayed at the Fremont Hotel because they always offer low room rates and no resort fee. My hotel room for the night was $32 after taxes. Not bad.

I went into this day away with no plan. My solo trips to Downtown Vegas have always been similar to someone going on a bender. I’d eat, drink and gamble way too much for a 24 hour period. This time my night in Downtown Vegas was different. I had a great time but it was a different kind of great time.

If you read this blog last week you saw daily updates of where I spent my time in Downtown Vegas.

  • I had a beer and chicken parm sliders for dinner at Triple George.
  • I grabbed a few beers and had some fun conversation at Nacho Daddy.
  • I had a flight of beer and then some at Banger Brewing.

Wow, I drank a lot of beer. There’s one thing missing from my night in Downtown Vegas. I hardly spent time in a casino and I barely gambled! This is very unlike me and I reflected on this on my drive back home to the burbs.

The casinos on the Vegas Strip are re-inventing themselves with new restaurantsbars and clubs to keep you on their property. My visits to the Vegas Strip haven’t changed. New restaurants and bars draw me to casinos on the Vegas Strip where I’ll inevitably end up gambling a little.

Eat, Drink, Gamble in one place – that’s my kind of fun. Let’s go back to Downtown Vegas.

Most of the new bars and restaurants are outside of the Downtown Vegas casinos. When I’m eating a great burger and drinking great beer at Pizza Rock there isn’t anything that says that I must go back out to the casino and gamble. The casinos in Downtown Vegas feel as though they’re becoming less relevant to me. They’re out of sight while I’m having fun eating and drinking and that puts them on the back burner.

Besides Andiamo Steakhouse at The D and Du-Pars at Golden Gate there really isn’t a restaurant destination inside of a Downtown Vegas casino that I feel like I ever need to visit. On the flip side every bar and restaurant I visited on my last trip to Downtown Vegas will be visited again.

As Downtown Vegas continues to re-invent itself the casinos may need to take note from the Golden Nugget and refresh their restaurants and bars every couple of years to keep old customers like me and attract new customers.

Many of my favorite casinos to gamble are in Downtown Vegas so it’s not like I’ll be avoiding the casinos there but I will certainly spend less money in those casinos when there are better bars and restaurants a short walk away.

It’s funny, gamblers always say that the Vegas Strip can learn something about keeping gamblers in their casino by offering better odds like Downtown Vegas. I think it may be the other way around. Maybe the Downtown Vegas casinos need to improve their bars and restaurants like their counterparts on the Vegas Strip to keep gamblers like me happy.

Rumor: Britney Spears Making Vegas Her New Home?

Norm Clarke reported on a rumor likely to be true that Britney Spears will be following Motley Crue with a multi-week residency at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.

Britney Spears’ first multiweek deal as a Las Vegas resident headliner is being discussed with the Hard Rock Hotel.

Vegas Confidential has learned Hard Rock President and Chief Operating Officer Paul Pusateri and Spears’ manager, Larry Rudolph, have been talking.

Britney Spears isn’t quite rock music, but does it really matter any more? The theme’s of the hotels in Las Vegas, don’t really matter anymore. For years the Hard Rock has been playing non-rock music.

I’ve had a thing for Britney for years (you may know that already) and I hope this happens. My first run in with Britney was at Rain at Palms waaaaaaay back in the day when she did a few short 3 song sets preparing for a tour. My friends and I also met Paris Hilton that night. There may have been a Dennis Rodman sighting that night, but it may have been John Sally. Things got a little fuzzy.

Later, my friends and I saw her in New Jersey for the Onyx Hotel Tour. We tailgated for hours listening to Metallica and Slayer. It was awesome.

Britney had a breakdown shortly thereafter and was difficult to watch. The soft spot in my heart sunk. Watching her gaze without, seemingly, knowing where she was looking wasn’t easy to watch. In recent year her performances have been more sad than anything else.

I’m hoping that if this Hard Rock residency happens and is better than Motley Crue’s. I’m also hoping that it brings her closer to the performer I enjoyed back in the day. Watch the intro to the concert I saw (then “Toxic“) and tell me it isn’t awesome.

Vegas Loves Skrillex!

I can’t imagine that I’d know what or who Skrillex was if I wasn’t such a Vegas dork. But I am. Skrillex is a DJ and one of the hottest things in Vegas this side of Deadmau5. I like some dance music, but generally I’m a rock dude. You may know that from my trip to see Queens of the Stoneage last summer.

In fact, in a previous life I’ve met Skrillex. Back then his name was Sonny and he was a singer for the band From First To Last. My name was never different.

Skrillex has been nominated for a bunch of Grammy Awards and plays Vegas pretty often. Although I don’t get the appeal lots of people do as his club appearances are always packed. I saw this video the other day and figured it was a good excuse to pass it on as a bit of education.

Here’s a jam from Surrender at Encore. Now that you’ve seen and heard Skrillex, you can understand and enjoy this. Consider yourself educated.

Download Skrillex if you dig this video

When in Vegas for Business

When people think of Las Vegas, they often think of a city where people travel to for long weekends, spend lots of money on gambling and/or clubs, and then head home. But Las Vegas has a much different kind of customer, one that fills in the gaps for those long weekends: the business traveller.  Traveling to Las Vegas for business can be a different experience and Bloomberg has a guide for the business traveller.

This guide is awesome, but I’m not sure how it pertains to specifically business travellers.  Sure there’s no mention of day/night clubs and bars, but there’s plenty of information on gambling and strip clubs.  In my world, when people travel on business, there is a need to act professional. I’m not sure how strip clubs fit into all of that.

All of that aside, the article is full of good advice.  There is really good information that the occasional visitor wouldn’t know.  Things such as:

  • Cabs can’t pick you up on the side of the road
  • House edge for many popular casino games
  • Using a players card every time you gamble
  • Put all charges you can on your hotel bill
  • Avoid ATMs at the casino

I think the information in this article isn’t so much for a business traveller as it is for anyone who just needs to know some tips for having a good time in Las Vegas.  After all, who wouldn’t want to know how to get casino comps, save on transportation, and know the right games to play?  These tips are valuable and can go a long way to helping someone maximize their Vegas experience.

Walk of Shame? Run of Shame?

Over the weekend CNBC sports news reporter, Darren Rovell, posted a picture of Puma sneaker display promoting “Run Your Walk of Shame.” The “Walk of Shame” is nothing new, but this reminded me about a story on Vegas Chatter a couple of days ago on how the walk could be worse at a casino in Las Vegas than other places.

I think it’s would be a lot worse walking across a college campus where you will see the same people again daily but I’m a dude, what do I know?

Either way, this is a fun promotion that clubs in Vegas can certainly get in on. While not The Walk of Shame the clubs and Puma could surely sell some sneakers to Heel Rats around town as their appearance is weekly and there are many.

Carmen Electra + Pussycat Dolls + Planet Hollywood

If you follow me on twitter you know I often say “Who’s having fun?” Carmen Electra at the opening of the new Pussycat Dolls Saloon at Planet Hollywood is nothing but fun!

Sex symbol Carmen Electra will be the guest striptease star to open the exotic and erotic Pussycat Dolls Burlesque Saloon at Planet Hollywood on June 4.

Wow! This is going to be one super-sensual lounge at the new Gallery Nightclub complete with stripper poles, a bejeweled fairground carnival horse, a seductive swing and a diamond-studded bathtub. Even the Pussycat Dolls name is emblazoned in rhinestones at the bar for the dancers to cavort their curves.

I can’t lie, I dig some Pussycat Dolls songs and I’ve played a little blackjack in the Pussycat Dolls pit at Caesars Palace before.  Sometimes a guy’s gotta do what a guy’s gotta do.

Bills Gambling Hall Getting Cleaned Up

Bill’s Gambling Hall & Saloon, formerly Barbary Coast, is getting cleaned up and rebranded by Harrah’s or maybe even another company.

I’m (Robin Leach) hearing exclusively from very reliable sources that the 4.3-acre property is part of a staggering deal with a major nightlife entertainment force, and everything including the 17,200-square-foot casino will get a major overhaul from top to bottom. When the news is officially announced, it will rock the nightlife scene.

Bills/Barbary Coast has never gotten my interest.  In fact, the only time anyone mentions this place is because of Drai’s.  A makeover to fit that crowd might make a lot of sense.  Since there isn’t a hotel component, I can see Bills being changed into a building with multiple clubs and gambling.

**UPDATE: Thanks for the heads up that there are actually hotel rooms at Bill’s.  I’ve never been, but now I know better.

Wynn and Encore Win Me Over

Until my last trip to Las Vegas I only visited Wynn once and didn’t really enjoy it.  It felt like old money.  Cold and stuffy.  That feeling changed on my last trip.  My first night was spent enjoying a nice dinner at SW steakhouse.  The next night I gambled at both Wynn and Encore and had a visit to XS.

XS
Generally, I’m not a club guy but it’s always fun to check out a new spot.  I grabbed a drink and took a walk through XS and had a great time.  I can’t believe that people wait in lines half the night to get into clubs.  Thankfully, I know people and didn’t have to deal with the incredibly long lines.  We walked in and up the stairs into the club.  It was early (around 11pm) and they club was already packed with people drinking and dancing.

I took a walk around the perimeter of the club stopping at the bar for a moment before heading outside to have a waitress get a drink.  $14 for a Grey Goose & Soda feels like club prices to me.  One of the nice parts of XS is that the club is both inside and outside.  Being from the east coast, I didn’t feel cold outside like the locals.

After watching girls dancing on stages (some went commando) I looped around the club and headed out to gamble.  It was a nice quick trip through XS and I’m glad I took a spin.

After walking out of XS into the Encore casino my friends and I sat down at an empty $10 blackjack table.  It was a great spot – we were close to the drink station, close to a rest room and had a great view of clubbers leaving XS.

We played blackjack for about 4 or 5 hours and closed down the pit.  Everyone at the table had plenty of drinks and everyone at the table walked away with more money than they started with.  It was an impossible run.  Entire tables rarely win.  I think I finished up either $300.  The end of the night was fuzzy.  I was in the middle of the winners and I was happy for it.

This was a special night filled with tears of joy and vodka fueled laughter.  I had so much fun.  The dealers, pit bosses and cocktail waitresses were all fantastic.  I knew I had to start drinking water when I stopped at the urinal and took a picture of the antisplash above.  It’s the one photo I took that night and it’s the sole reminder of the laughs that night.

At Encore I learned that my earlier loss at switch blackjack (at Wynn the night before) was rare.  Evidently most people win at switch blackjack.  I’ll try switch again before I drink.  Unfortunately my gambling at Wynn was filled with losses and a small video poker victory.

My two nights at Wynn and Encore changed how I felt about Wynn.  I think the addition of Encore has added a little youth and energy to the complex that wasn’t there when Wynn first opened.

This is a good reason not to hold one visit against a casino/hotel forever – especially when hearing opposite impressions from others.  That’s something to keep in mind as CityCenter and Aria develop.