The Vegas Guy

Mermaids Casino

WRITING - The Vegas Guy

Hookers, pawn shops, panhandlers, pimps, riffraff, winos, small-time hoods, dice girls, slot cheats, pickpockets, con artists, and drunk yodelers are just a few of the things the casino owners of downtown Las Vegas decided they did not want to deal with anymore, and so in 1995 they ponied up some major moolah for something called the Fremont Street Experience. Fremont Street was already the brightest street in the world--with so much neon you could read the fine print in a Don King contract at 4 a.m.--but they made it even brighter when they erected a four-block-long canopy, a sort of vaulted marquee, that was impressive even by the standards of Las Vegas neon. Every hour or so they switch off  the casino lights and switch on the canopy and every tourist neck cranes upwards as spaceships and prehistoric fish and other odd animated symbols rush up and down the street while a blaring fanfare gooses the energy level a few notches.

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Las Vegas Comp Couple

WRITING - The Vegas Guy

LAS VEGAS -- It's still the holiday season, so Jean Smart is dressed in Grandma Chic: bright green sweatshirt, red pants, and, sticking out of her curly blonde hair, reindeer antlers. She's parked at the complimentary cocktail table while her husband, Grandpa Brad, plays in the Arctic Blues Slots Tournament at the Rio Casino. Jean is 61, a retired schoolteacher.

Brad is 68, a retired naval electronics expert. And they're one of those inseparable couples who can finish each other's sentences. They could be poster grandparents for the vast horde of senior citizens who like to pass their declining years in bingo halls and keno parlors.

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The Mac King Show

WRITING - The Vegas Guy

Vegas has always been the last refuge of the guilty magician. At any given time the city offers the best magic acts in the world. And the worst. Magicians don't steal one another's tricks quite as often as comedians steal one another's jokes, but it's still a world in which a mediocre but ruthless talent can sometimes make absurd sums of money by recycling illusions he neither invented nor perfected nor even knows how to perform very well.

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A Tale of 2 Gambling Cities

WRITING - The Vegas Guy

It's a chilly Friday night in Colorado's most historic mining town, and Main Street is so empty you half expect Gary Cooper to come striding out for a gunfight. About half the Victorian storefronts stand vacant. There's a "Grand Opening" sign in the window of the Easy Street Casino-- next door to the Gold Coin Saloon, which is so old it's on the National Register of Historic Places--but the opening doesn't look very grand.Five or six people lazily drop coins into the new slot machines and a lone blackjack dealer stands motionless with no customers.

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Organized Crime Has Left the Building

WRITING - The Vegas Guy

The first great article of faith in Vegas, proclaimed by every good corporate citizen but not entirely accurate, is:

Organized crime has left the building.

"There may have been mob money in the Dunes as late as the early eighties," says Rob Goldstein, President of the Venetian,

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Mohegan Sun Casino

WRITING - The Vegas Guy

UNCASVILLE, Conn., February 4 (UPI) -- In the biggest high- roller suite at Mohegan Sun Casino, the one with the kitchen staff and the butler and the regal dining table and the five rooms of designer furniture, there's a giant Jacuzzi equipped with two television sets--one at each end--so that two people can sit facing each other without craning their necks to see what's on.

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Two Two One Is A Game, Not an Area Code

WRITING - The Vegas Guy

TUNICA, Miss. January 28 (UPI) -- Derek Webb peers around at the tired crew of sleepy-eyed dealers who have gathered at a converted blackjack table at Bally's Casino. Most of them have just come off the graveyard shift, and they're gulping coffee to stay alert for another hour.

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Patti Patti Patti!

WRITING - The Vegas Guy

UNCASVILLE, Conn., January 21 -- Patti Lupone is one of those singers whose name should always be followed by exclamation points. It has to be "Patti Lupone!" or perhaps just "Patti!" or, better yet, "Patti Patti Patti!"

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The Slots Wars

WRITING - The Vegas Guy

TUCSON, January 14  -- Rhode Island, Delaware and West Virginia--three of the smallest states in the union--are responsible for what's about to happen.

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