Why You Should Be Excited About The Las Vegas North Strip Soon!

Oh so much news about the North Strip! Many of you have most likely avoided going north of Wynn/Encore because there are long walks between not much. Even if you have to get up to SLS and Stratosphere Las Vegas (for whatever reason), the monorail has been the way to go. That is going to change dramatically in the next couple of years. Here’s a north-to-south overview of what to anticipate:

Stratosphere Tower Las Vegas

– The Stratosphere (and both Arizona Charlie’s) have been bought by Golden Gaming, which owns a few casinos scattered around Nevada (Pahrump and Laughlin), and more importantly operates the most dominant chains of bar and grills around Las Vegas (over 60 locations at my last count). They plan unspecified investments in the property. For now, what I’d look to is them taking all they’ve learned with their bars and non-Vegas Strip casinos and making things very easy on the wallet to lure people through the door.

– SLS(ahara) was recently sold to a Reno casino operator. Our hope was that he would bring Reno-style hospitality and pricing to The Strip. Unfortunately, that sale seems up in the air. Word is that, despite the intense renovation of the property, it still has significant problems and the price needs to come down to make the deal work. No word of what those issues are, but one has to assume they are infrastructure issues which were glossed over during the renovation. (I’m just making a guess here, not a statement). Those of you who have worked on old houses know that you can make the house look great, but that doesn’t mean the plumbing and electrical are new.

– The All Net Arena, on the old Wet ‘N’ Wild property just south of SLS, claims that financing is in place for them to build an NBA-style arena on the property. This has been in the world for years, and the principles have NBA connections. However, not so fast on this one. MGM Resorts will have none of this. If we get an NBA team, they want it in their own T-Mobile arena. So much so, that to build a relationship with the NBA, they just went out and bought San Antonio’s WNBA team and is relocating it to Las Vegas. (WNBA games will be in the smaller Mandalay Bay Events Center, not at T-Mobile. This due to the expected number of ticket sales per game).

– Nothing much new since we reported the sale of the Fontainebleau. I expect that we’ll hear something sooner than later, as the convention center expansion is slated to open in 2020. Given their proximity to this expansion, it would do them well to have the door open when that happens.

Circus Circus continues to be the red-headed step-child of MGM Resorts. However, don’t expect them to part with it anytime soon. They are just biding their time. They were instrumental in pushing the funding for the new convention center expansion, which is a stones-throw away. Just as they are remodeling, de-themeing, and upgrading the Monte Carlo, I’d expect a similar initiative with Circus around a year before the new convention space across the street comes online. The value of the property will rise dramatically in a couple of years. I find it unfortunate that MGM Resorts seems to love de-theming casino properties. However, all is not lost on the theme front…

Resorts World Las Vegas (old Stardust) has hired a construction manager, and multiple cranes are on-site and on the rise. This property will be seriously Asian themed and be the first themed casino to be built here since Paris Las Vegas opened in 1999. Nearly 20 years.

As always, we’ll keep you in the loop and continue to make you among the most informed visitors to Las Vegas.

Ted Newkirk
Founder/Managing Editor
Access Vegas

Jimmy Buffett Margaritaville Casino Las Vegas – Winner, Winner… Chicken Dinner

We just returned from the brand new Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville casino at the Flamingo Las Vegas and the results are very impressive. Parrotheads (Jimmy Buffett fans) will enjoy it as will anyone who wishes they could sail away to a tropical island for a relaxing respite.

The centerpiece is the 5 O’Clock Somewhere bar (named after the country hit duet Jimmy Buffett sang with Alan Jackson) with ironically for Las Vegas does not feature video video poker (possibly the first casino bar in Las Vegas that doesn’t).

At 6 PM on a Monday night, the bar was full and while Monday Night Football and baseball playoffs certainly played a part, most people were actually just enjoying drinking and talking and having a good time just inches from the Las Vegas Strip in a stress-free atmosphere.

The lone craps table is right inside a set of front doors a la O’ Sheas, which should provide some great energy into the evening. A very busy roulette table sat with a similar configuration in front of an entrance.

Video poker is the same garbage payouts as the rest of the entire property. Typical Strip payouts, and what is typical of what you’ll find in local bars in town as well. Me, I primary play video poker at Vue Bar in Fitzgerald’s Las Vegas downtown (full-pay bonus poker, 8/5 with multiple progressives). Very few video machines at Margaritaville Casino Las Vegas as they are after the tourist gambler.

Selected blackjack tables are 3-2 (full-pay, traditional rules… you have to ask which ones are which) which is getting harder and harder to find in any of the “party” casino areas on The Strip. I didn’t press further about other rules. When I play blackjack, I either play at the $5 tables in the Golden Gate “boobie” pit downtown with the sexy dealers or (if playing seriously) at Palace Station (double-deck, hand-held, 3-2… plus since no mid-shuffle entry you can time your bathroom breaks right and miss a LOT of hands while enjoying the comped libations you get while playing).

The entire Margaritaville Casino was seeing brisk business for early on a Monday night. It really does feel like you are in another property altogether and actually the main Flamingo casino felt old and tired by comparison. The low ceilings really create that intimate atmosphere that studies have shown people like when gambling.

Cocktail waitress outfits are (for the most part) string bikini tops. Very, very nice. No, we were not rude enough to sneak a photo. We live in Las Vegas. We’ve see girls in next-to-nothing (both casino employees and visitors walking The Strip) all the time. But especially if you are from a cold-weather climate or visiting Las Vegas during our “cold” (for us) winter months, this place is a great respite. I can see visiting on a regular basis just for a drink at the bar and soaking up the tropics.

They must have really rammed customer service into the heads of employees. You couldn’t walk past one without them saying hello and that extends into the gift shop. Hint: Check out the “other” Margaritaville T-Shirt shop near the check in desk. Currently if you spend $20 or more, you can get a free margarita. Considering what a margarita will cost you at a place like The Flamingo, this is a great deal.

Overall Impression? Winner, winner, chicken dinner. Jimmy Buffett is going to have no problem keeping his fleet of aircraft fueled up off his cut of this thing. Between the success of both the Toby Keith pit and bar and Margaritaville, I’d expect to see more musically branded gaming areas. Michael Jacksonville, anyone? What musical group or performer would you like to see have their own Las Vegas casino area?

Ted Newkirk
Founder/Managing Editor
Access Vegas