Boom Goes The Vegas Strip This Morning!

Warning: The video takes time to load and may not work on Chrome, but otherwise it’s worth the 2 minutes.

My morning routine usually consists of enjoying a cup of coffee while listening to the Dan Patrick Show on TV and checking twitter and facebook. Nothing fancy. The Dan Patrick Show wasn’t on TV this morning so I switched to the local news to see what’s happening in Las Vegas. There’s usually nothing happening but it’s noise. Today was different. Different in a big way!

There was a shootout down the Vegas strip that ended with three people dead and cars exploding. This was straight out of a movie.

8 News NOW

This ended at the corner of Flamingo and the strip. That corner of the strip is near Bellagio, Bill’s, Bally’s, Caesars Palace and Flamingo and will be closed until noon or so day.

The news keeps calling this a “rolling shootout” and all I can think of is Rage Against The Machine.

Photo: 8 News Now

Downtown Vegas Updates

There are so many new businesses opening up in Downtown Vegas that it’s difficult to keep track of. The changes range from casino renovations to new bar and restaurant openings. I’m always excited by the shiny new things in Las Vegas but I got way too excited when Vegas Chatter went the preview of the Downtown Grand.

If you’re into Downtown Vegas but not as in touch as you like I recommend following a few websites.

Vegas Chatter – They’re a legit press outlet located in Las Vegas but they’re not mainstream media. They go to the press events so they have the mainstream info covered but they also have a lot of people on the street writing for them (including me) to give first hand views, pictures and opinions. Follow on twitter for all of their Vegas stories plus first hand accounts and follow the downtown Vegas tag for just the downtown articles.

Fremont Street Bars – They have all the news you could imagine one the bars on Fremont Street. There have been a lot of bar openings so there’s a lot to keep track of. While 90% or so of the website is focused on bars they also have news restaurants and larger projects. The focus of Fremont Street Bar is it’s strength. There’s no news from anywhere else in Las Vegas distracting from Downtown Vegas. Follow on twitter or their RSS feed for the news.

Joe Downtown – Joe Downtown covers Downtown Vegas for the Las Vegas Sun. Since the Sun is a mainstream newspaper for all of Las Vegas you’ll find coverage of everything from government to what’s happening in the casinos. It’s a nice mix of what’s happening in downtown Vegas that you won’t find on Vegas Chatter or Fremont Street Bars. Follow Downtown Joe page on the Las Vegas Sun or on twitter


Las Vegas Cab Drivers OK Strike

I’m going to have to tread lightly talking about Las Vegas cab drivers threatening to go on strike. In brief, I’ve heard (and experienced) too many horror stories about taxi drivers in Las Vegas.

These cab drivers threatening to strike are the same people who long haul travelers and frequently over-charge passengers without care. The government in Las Vegas has admitted to being OK with these expletive expletive’s expletiving people. The Nevada government who allow this are also a bunch of expletives.

Now the taxi drivers in Las Vegas want to go on strike when I’m vacationing on the strip (I’ve been taking a Vegas Vacation the week or weekend before Christmas forever and that hasn’t stopped with me living in Vegas). Awesome.

After a vote completed late Thursday, a representative of the Industrial Technical Professional Employees Union said the vote to authorize a strike was “overwhelming,” but the union would not disclose vote counts or percentages of voter approval. A contract extension between the drivers and YCS, the second-largest taxi company group in Southern Nevada, is in effect through Dec. 15.

I, clearly, have a problem with the cab drivers who sneakily overcharge customers in Las Vegas (and the government that allows this) but they do provide a service that I use and need. Since this strike is scheduled to happen during the last weekend of the National Finals Rodeo it will probably be averted with nothing being done to curtail the petty larceny by many of these cab drivers on a daily basis.

If you ever find yourself taken advantage of by a taxi driver in Las Vegas here are a couple of simple tips.

  1. Take pictures of your cab and cab driver.
  2. Submit a complaint to the Nevada Taxicab Authority.
  3. Don’t Pay or pay what you feel is appropriate.

The more complaints submitted, the more the incentive for the government to do something about the sketchy taxi drivers in Las Vegas. Help yourself and help your fellow Vegas travelers.

Note: I’m generalizing all cab drivers here. There are some good taxi drivers, but they are the minority

Photo – Misadventures with Andi

Vegas Taxicab Authority Administrator Charles Harvey OK Ripping You Off

Vegas cab rides are hit and miss. There has long been discussion about being long hauled by a cab from McCarran Airport to whatever hotel you’re visiting and vice versa. Long hauling is being driven out of the way and charged more money than the trip should actually cost. It’s annoying and crooked. Long ago, I learned to say “No Tunnel” when taking a cab ride from the airport to make sure A) I got where I wanted quickly and B) I wasn’t overcharged.

Taxicab authority board member Dean Collins estimates that at least a third of the trips out of the airport go the long way, based on his discussions with people in the industry. Some drivers put the percentage of long haul rides at 50 percent or even 70 percent.

Being from New York City, I’m used to crazy cab drivers. I’m fine with crazy. Truthfully, I don’t care about the crazy ride as long as I get from A to B in one piece in the quickest time possible. Since fares are based on time and distance, my fare would usually be on point. New York City government has posted flat fares from the airport so that it isn’t so easy to take advantage of tourists.

Las Vegas doesn’t seem to care. This has been a growing problem for years and the government doesn’t do anything and the fact that the government lets this happen it’s disgusting. In an article this weekend in the Las Vegas Review Journal the person in charge won’t even discuss this matter. That tells me that its not important to him and not responding just says “I don’t care”.

Taxicab Authority administrator Charles Harvey, who took the position a year ago vowing to bring long hauling under control, declined to be interviewed for this article.

In Vegas I’m used to being driven out of the way and overcharged that normally doesn’t bother me all that much. It’s sucks, but I’m used to it.

This is a much bigger issue than resort fees at hotels to me. Even if it’s less costly, it’s sneaky and underhanded. There was a time where not all resort fees were disclosed, but that’s not the case any longer. Most people can do the math and figure out how much we’ll be charged. Getting into a cab is a mystery. A trip could cost $15 or $50 and you’ll never know in advance.

Driver Kellie Obong, for example, recalled being the second of two cabs ferrying a large group from the airport to Bellagio in December. She dutifully followed the first driver – to the Beltway, then south on I-15 to the Blue Diamond Road exit, before turning north on Las Vegas Boulevard, stretching a $15 fare without waiting time to $50.

This is disgusting and the Government won’t do anything about it. What can you do if you get long hauled? Here are a couple of quick tips:

  1. Take pictures of your cab and cab driver.
  2. Submit a complaint to the Nevada Taxicab Authority.

The more complaints submitted, the more the incentive for the government to do something about it. Help yourself and help your fellow Vegas travelers. Someone has to and it might as well be you (or me).

MGM Resorts Jim Murren on CNBC

MGM Resorts International CEO was on CNBC today discussing Las Vegas and their company.

Some highlights include:

  1. 2012 will break visitor records in Las Vegas.
  2. Online poker will become legal in 2012. Either state by state or nationally.
  3. Will spend $2 mm – $2.5 mm in Macau.
  4. Aria convention space sold out.
  5. Social gaming discussion – Farmville on the strip.

Warning: More Legionnaires Disease at MGM Resorts Hotels

Another MGM Resorts hotel in Las Vegas has come down with Legionnaires’ disease. Three people who stayed at Luxor have contracted Legionnaires’ disease since last spring. Unlike last year at Aria, when 6 people survived a bout with Legionnaires’ disease, one of these people passed away.

Three guests at the Luxor have contracted Legionnaires’ disease since last spring, including one who recently died as a result, the Southern Nevada Health District announced today (yesterday).

Well, that’s definitely not good. Don’t worry MGM says this time, they’re going to do sometime to combat Legionnaires disease.

Gordon Absher, vice president of public affairs for MGM Resorts International, said authorities immediately began remediation — super-heating and super-chlorinating water to kill the bacteria — when health district officials notified the resort last week.

“We take this very seriously,” Absher said. “Health of our guests and our employees is of paramount importance to MGM Resorts.”

This is nothing to joke about, but if MGM Resorts really took the health of their guests seriously they wouldn’t have waited for someone to die before bringing out the heavy artillery.

I’m not going to lie, I don’t know much about Legionnaires disease, but when I visit casinos I usually bring hand sanitizer with me and ALWAYS wash my hands when I use the rest room. This isn’t going to protect me that much, but at least I’m trying.

Casinos are the only place I’m a germaphobe. Most house keeping I’ve seen doesn’t seem too sanitary and guests at the hotels are even worse.

The conspiracy theorist inside tells me not to think these issues that are making people sick are not just with MGM Resorts properties, but 25% of the hotel owned by one company can’t be good.

Seriously, buy some of these Purell wipes. People are dirty.

Photo: Flickr

Fox News Doesn’t Get Vegas

Every now and then a news article comes along that just misses the boat entirely.  Fox News published this article the other day, crediting party pits as a reason for increased visitation in Las Vegas.  The article calls out the Pussycat Dolls Pit at Caesars Palace and Pleasure Pit at Planet Hollywood as examples of new themed areas of casinos that draw in more patrons.

I’ve always found these party pits interesting.  I understand the draw, but do people really get drawn into a casino because the Pussy Cat Dolls pit is inside?  Furthermore, would they not visit if these lounges didn’t exist?  I don’t think these lounges bring more people to Vegas, I just think they encourage a certain demographic to play at that specific table, rather than a different one.

The article fails to mention that with the economy rebounding slightly and overall vacationing up, it stands to reason that Vegas visitation would increase.  Another thing it fails to mention is how these party pits tend to have worse odds for the player, including the much hated 6:5 “blackjack”.

I do think that it’s important for casinos to be creative to maintain their customers and that these pits are a way to do that.  They fit in well with the type of patron that Caesars and Planet Holly wood are going for.  But I think people that people who enjoy these pits would go to Vegas anyway, even if there weren’t scantily dressed women dealing and dancing in the casino pit.  The next person I meet who travels to Vegas solely for a party pit will be the first.

(ED: Here’s a tale from the PCD Pit last year.)

Keith Olbermann Calls Steve Wynn The Worst Person In The World

Steve Wynn Is The Worst Person In The World On MSNBC
Steve Wynn Is The Worst Person In The World

Keith Olbermann was entertaining to me when he was on ESPN Sportscenter.  I didn’t watch Countdown on MSNBC because I tend to stay away from politics on TV.  I don’t care about his politics, but he was fun with sports. I watch brainless TV and sports and I’m happy with that.

Anyway, Olbermann got the boot from MSNBC and is now on Current TV and he’s still doing the “Worst Person In The World” sketch.  Last night Steve Wynn won the “Worst Person In The World” for comments he made about Barack Obama earlier this week.  Evidently this made him a worse person than Sarah Palin and Congressman Alan West.

Take a look.

When I started writing this post I asked who was more obnoxious Steve Wynn or Keith Olbermann and Olbermann won in a landslide.  The comment that I echo is from Denver Gambler ” Olberman for sure, he doesn’t have a snazzy casino”.

Now this brings up a new question: Would you rather be the “Worst” or “Most Obnoxious”?

Caesars Entertainment Gary Loveman on CNBC

Gary Loveman from Caesars Entertainment was on CNBC yesterday morning. Listening to him speak I kinda feel like he’s one of the rats that got the online poker sites busted for the betterment of his company.  That’s business, but he’s not the best speaker and comes off a little swarmy. He talks about the improvements of the Vegas gambling market and, of course, online poker.

A cynic may say Loveman felt a little left out after CNBC had Jim Murren and John Unwin on last week. The video is six minutes long and worth a view.