Taxing The Las Vegas Visitors… Here We Go Again

A couple of years ago, we railed against the increasing rental car taxes to fun a performing arts center downtown. This area is already awash in venues of all sizes, and the clientele that goes and sees a touring ballet company isn’t likely to then head to Fremont Street, order up a 3 foot tall frozen drink from a girl in a bikini, and fire up the craps table. I continue to content that the city didn’t need the center, especially on the backs of visitors who already pay outrageous rental car taxes.

Now comes a proposed (just shy of) 1% sales tax only for an area within a 3 mile radius of the center of The Strip. Why? To fund an arena behind Flamingo/Harrah’s/Imperial Palace.

Disclaimer: I got out a map and a ruler (old school) and found out that I’m in that radius. So are most of the places I shop and eat at. On the flip side, we’ll probably be able to profit selling some tickets to the events.

Look… we have arenas. Coming out our backside for a community of this size. The only real reason some want this is because they feel it will land us a pro sports team. Let’s not be stupid here: Las Vegas is in an economic slump. Southern Nevada is slated to lose another 50,000 people. If the team draws, it will have to depend heavily on visitors from the other team’s city.

Can a sport team really bet on that (no pun intended)? And how well is a Las Vegas team going to do when 70% of the people in the stands at their HOME game are rooting AGAINST the home team? This just isn’t the right time to be (once again) sticking it to our visitors financially to fund something we don’t need right now.

The great thing is that this will bring in more people who want more gamble tips in Las Vegas.

What are your thoughts? Make your voice be heard with a comment below.

Ted Newkirk
Founder/Managing Editor
Access Vegas

MGM Las Vegas Lion Habitat Review

mgm las vegas lion habitatMGM LION HABITAT – The free lion habitat at the MGM is now open daily from 11:00 AM to 11:00 PM. It’s a walk-through display, with plexiglass on all 4 sides of you, theoretically allowing the lions to get inches from you. It is more of a display than anything else, given that you could walk through the plexiglass tunnel in about 10 seconds (and straight into the gift shop to guy a $14 lion coffee mug). The display is located near the main casino entrances from The Strip and Tropicana. The plexiglass walls front a large casino area, allowing you to enjoy the display from a number of angles.

Our 6:00 PM weekday visit revealed 2 lion cubs in the display, each working with a trainer who was teaching them to sit, stand, etc. not unlike one would a dog, and then rewarding them with raw hamburger. You can take a photo with a live lion cub for $20, although this feature was closed during our visit. While this display isn’t worth going well out of the way for, it is a must-see when in the area. Note: the MGM has the worst parking garage in the city. It sits about 1/4 a mile from the front entrance, has extremely narrow spaces, and is difficult to even get to. When visiting the Monte Carlo, New York, New York, MGM, Gameworks, or the All Star Cafe, we strongly suggest parking in the Holiday Inn Boardwalk garage. This under-used structure sits right on the strip and is short, enjoyable walk to the above casinos and attractions.

This article originally appeared July 28, 1999 in the Access Vegas Insider Vibe

Ted Newkirk
Founder/Managing Editor
Access Vegas

Makino Todai Asian Las Vegas Restaurant Review

A friend of mine receives your Las Vegas newsletter and told me about Makino Todai restaurant. I’m a Japanese-American and always looking for a great sushi place, especially buffet.

My family had a reunion in Las Vegas last week (July 21 – 26) and I decided to try this restaurant. I can’t say enough about it! It’s the best Japanese restaurant I’ve ever been to. Everything on the buffet was excellent, the sushi was fantastic, and service was very good. Atmosphere was good – for a buffet restaurant.

I told my relatives about it and about 40 adults tried it last week with several of us going twice….needless to say, all family members enjoyed it as well. One uncle said he would even fly into Vegas just to eat there as he was finishing his fifth plate.

So the 10 minute drive from the Strip is well worth it. Update on the prices: lunch $12.95, dinner $21.95 with 10% discount for seniors 65 and over for dinner.

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The Makino Todai is advertised as a 160 foot royal Japanese seafood buffet at 3965 S. Decatur, #5 (Decatur near Flamingo) featuring 40 kinds of sushi, fresh oysters, tons more.

David Cassidy Replaces Danny Gans In Las Vegas

The Rio Suites Las Vegas just announced the hiring of David Cassidy to produce and perform in a show effective January 2000 after their contract with Danny Gans runs out. It has been no secret for months that the popular Gans would be moving on in light of his open frustration at the pricing of his shows. During his tenure there, The Rio raised prices from their original sub $40 to the near $100 of now.

As a tip-of-the-hat to locals who were priced out of his show, Gans did a basically free concert last New Year’s Eve downtown at Fremont Street (it was included with the other festivities and bands in the $10 ticket price). Gans is purported to be moving on to The Mirage, where Mirage boss and Gans’ fan Steve Wynn is to build him his own 1200 seat theatre and ink him to a multi-year deal (a la the Lance Burton arrangement at Monte Carlo).

This article originally appeared July 28, 1999 in the Access Vegas Insider Vibe

Ted Newkirk
Founder/Managing Editor
Access Vegas

WCW Wrestling Nitro Grill at The Excalibur Hotel Las Vegas

World Championship Wrestling (WCW), in their efforts to beat the World
Wrestling Federation (WWF) to town after the WWF purchase of the Debbie
Reynolds hotel on Convention Center Dr. recently opened the Nitro Grill in
the old Wild Bills Saloon & Steakhouse area of The Excalibur Las Vegas (second floor).

Unfortunately, the haste of getting this up and running along with the
shoe-strip budget are all too evident. For the most part, they just emptied
out the steakhouse and put up some arena-style lighting girders and a 30
foot tall TV screen which plays recent pay-per-view and other WCW wresting
events nonstop.

The problem is that the entire place still has the old look and feel. From
the bad multicolored carpet to the red, yellow, and green booths, this
place still screams EXCALIBUR in the worst sense in every category. No
wonder the steak house failed — imagine eating in a cheap mid evil Circus
Circus setting and you have this room. A photo is online at
http://www.nitrogrill.com/ngint.jpg — see for yourself.

The food has some cute names taken from the WCW wrestlers — hamburgers
like the Goldberger, Hoganburger, and Stingburger. The onion ring order is
called Wrestling Rings and the chicken fingers Broken Fingers.

I tried the Flyin’ Filet, advertised as a “10 oz. center cut filet — our
most tender steak” (see http://www.nitrogrill.com/menu_5.html ). This steak
was a standard steak dinner with baked potato, salad, and rolls with a
price tag of $15.99. The steak wasn’t bad, but if this is their absolute
most tender steak then they need to employ some of the wrestlers to jump up
and down on the meat before they cook it.

The price was a bigger issue. This isn’t New York City or Chicago. This is
Las Vegas — probably THE most value conscious destination in the world.
While most casinos aren’t practically giving away the food like they used
to, you still except a LOT of bang for the buck in casino restaurants
(whether the casino runs them or not). And to add insult to injury, this
meal is virtually identical to the Binion’s late night $3.00 steak dinner
which I find the time to enjoy 3-4 times a month.

The problem is that once you get past the halfhearted cutesy wrestling
theme, this place is really just Applebee’s on steroids, with an inflated
price to match. The same appetizers, steaks, and sandwiches that you can
find in every coffee shop in town — at a 30% surcharge. If you are a
wrestling fan, stop on by the place, pick up a t-shirt, and move on. Their
website is at http://www.nitrogrill.com

By the way, before the hate email pours in from wrestling fans, let me
point out that I have watched wrestling on and off since I was 5 years old.
In fact, I prefer the WCW over the WWF for televised wrestling. But their
restaurant is going to empty out your pockets quicker than the tables
downstairs. Hit the buffet next door. It’s not the best in town, but at
least you get what you pay for.

This article originally appeared June 17, 1999 in the Access Vegas Insider Vibe

Ted Newkirk
Founder/Managing Editor
Access Vegas

Bob Stupak’s Las Vegas Titanic Hotel Plan Is Sunk

TITANIC IS SUNK – Las Vegas legend Bob Stupak’s plans to build a casino
with the theme of the Titanic were sunk by the Las Vegas city council
because of objections by neighbors backing the area. He was planning to
build in on the site of his Thunderbird Hotel which is
located halfway between Fremont St. Experience and the Stratosphere on LV
Blvd. (the Strip). The area isn’t designated as a casino development district.

Now Mr. Stupak is looking to reopen the Moulin Rouge, a shuttered hotel on
Bonanza Rd. about a mile west of downtown. The Moulin Rouge was the first
racially integrated casino in Las Vegas. The Review-Journal has quoted
Stupak as saying “The attraction is, it’s 1999 and the black people need
their spots, The ones with their Cadillacs need a place to go. There’s a
need for it.”

Word is that Bob isn’t exactly on the A list with the NAACP after that
comment, but they can’t knock him for dumping 20 million into a minority
area that desperately needs it. Full story available at:

Rendering Of Bob Stupak’s Titanic Hotel Casino

This article originally appeared June 17, 1999 in the Access Vegas Insider Vibe

Ted Newkirk
Founder/Managing Editor
Access Vegas

Golden Gate Las Vegas 99 Cent Shrimp Cocktail Update

GOLDEN GATE .99 SHRIMP COCKTAIL – The Golden Gate’s infamous .99 cent
shrimp cocktail is still the same price, but it now served in martini
glasses, which appear to be half the size of the old glasses. This is the
third glass-size reduction in 6 years to maintain the longtime price of
this special but it’s still a good deal. The Golden Gate is at 1 Fremont
St. downtown and this quaint, historic hotel can be booked online (free
price / availability search) at: Golden Gate Hotel Casino

This article originally appeared June 7, 1999 in the Access Vegas Insider Vibe

Ted Newkirk
Founder/Managing Editor
Access Vegas

Review: Activities for Kids (And Adults) At Luxor Las Vegas

FEATURE STORY – Attractions of the Luxor Las Vegas Hotel

The Attraction Level (second floor) of the Luxor Hotel contains a
number of interesting diversions both for those under 21 and adults
who need a break from the tables and slots. I made the mistake of
going down and thinking I could do ALL of them in an abbreviated
afternoon and opted for the all-inclusive $22.95 ticket. Don’t try
this at home, folks! While the $22.95 is a good deal, doing these
adventures back to back is time-consuming and taxing. Either plan to
do everything over the course of two days or just pick a couple of
things to enjoy.

IMAX THEATRE – If you have never experienced IMAX 3D (as I had not),
you are in for a treat. Sitting with a close-up, unencumbered view of
a screen about the size of a drive-in movie theatre screen, you don
special glasses that actually have speakers built into them to
argument the surround sound. This isn’t the old-time 3D experience
with the funky glasses that make everything fuzzy. This experience
brings the images SO close to your face that you try to reach out and
touch them.

I saw the T-Rex show, which mixed educational information about
dinosaurs and archeology with a "touching" story about an archeologist
and his teen daughter. We were taken back in time throughout the
show, viewing dinosaurs and other reptiles that were literally in our
face time and time again. In addition, the walks through the woods
and terrain of the old world forests were brought amazingly to life
through 3D. The other two shows currently playing are Mysteries of
Egypt and The Olympics. Each show lasts almost an hour and is well
worth the $8.95 admission. (That’s less than a roll of quarters or a
couple of red chips when you think of it in gambling terms). Also,
the 9:00 AM showing only runs $6.50

IN SEARCH OF THE OBELISK – This $6.00 motion simulator ride is just a
little short on bang-for-the-buck. You are led into a futuristic room
where you see a video of a "security alert" which sets up the
adventure. Then to a waiting room where another 5 minute video further
preps you for the ride. This state-of-the-art motion simulator with
wrap-around screen does engulf you in the experience, which includes a
hair-raising ride through the Obelisk, trying to escape from the "evil
forces". At around 5 minutes, the ride was a little short, although
having just had lunch, I was happy to see it end. One of the better
standard motion simulator rides in town, even if a bit short and
pricey, but go on an empty stomach.

KING TUT’S MUSEUM – A $5.00 rip-off unless you are REALLY into this
sort of history, you take a guided tour of replicas from King Tut’s
tomb. Seemingly historically accurate, this tour takes about 20
minutes because of the narration you receive from the provided
headset. Otherwise, it would take 5. Interesting, but something that
should cost $2 tops.

WORLD’S GREATEST PHARAOH’S – This 20 minute movie, shown in the same
theatre as "Lasting Impressions" starring Bill Acosta, provides a
history of the Egyptian period of pharaohs that the theme of the Luxor
is based around. Interestingly historical, it’s a nice reprieve from
the bells and whistles of the casino. Not something to take the kids
too, but at $4.00 not a bad change of pace for an adult.

Ted Newkirk
Founder/Managing Editor
Access Vegas

How To Win In Las Vegas: Slot Machines vs. Table Games

SLOT PLAYERS VS. TABLE GAMES – Slot machine wins on the Strip for
April 1999 were up 15.4% (over April 1998) while table game wins were
off 3.4%. No surprise as the old mantra of "loose slots" has been
replaced by come-ons for themed slot machines. And somebody has to pay those
licensing fees. On the other hand, intelligent table game play can
cut the casino’s edge down to virtually nothing. If you have always
been interested in the joining the fun at the tables, but are too
timid for lack of knowledge, let us suggest the book Beat the Odds :
How to Win at Gambling! by J. Edward Allen. It’s a great primer,
inexpensive, and available online at
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0940685418/invegascom
With the
book in hand and one of those inexpensive casino software programs
available at most stores, you can practice at home and play like a pro
when you get here!

Ted Newkirk
Founder/Managing Editor
Access Vegas

How To Die In Las Vegas – Do Not Jaywalk!

BEFORE YOU JAYWALK – a recent published report (City Life Magazine) of
the 15 most crash-ridden intersections in Las Vegas revealed the top 3
are on Las Vegas Blvd. (The Strip):

1. L.V. Blvd./Tropicana
2. L.V. Blvd./Flamingo
3. L.V. Blvd./Sahara

We mention this because a trip to the Strip (for locals) isn’t complete without
almost mowing down a pedestrian who was rushing against the light (or
outside of a crosswalk) to get to that casino across the street before
it closes. That or the bar runs out of beer. Or maybe before the
casino cage runs out of change. Before you send the hate mail,
we are NOT trying to hit you (except for maybe the taxi drivers).
But we dread the day it might happen.

On a serious note, pedestrians are hurt and killed by autos on the
Strip far more often than you’d like to know. Folks, this isn’t
Disneyland and the person behind that wheel may also unfortunately be
just as drunk as you are. Las Vegas is going to be here for a long
time. That casino you are rushing to isn’t closing. Do yourself a
favor: obey the signals, watch for traffic, and you’ll be around to
enjoy Las Vegas for many years to come.

Ted Newkirk
Founder/Managing Editor
Access Vegas