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Casino And Hotels As A Separate Business

Is the separation of casinos business and hotel business and retail business a good thing? Penn National thinks it’s good business. A few weeks ago they split their casino and hotel businesses into two separate companies.

Penn National Gaming has announced that it will split itself into an operating company and a REIT. The casino properties will be cleft between the two entities, with Penn National leasing most of them from the REIT.

A REIT is short for Real Estate Investment Trust. Separating the hotel and casino operations wasn’t only done because it may be good business, but it was also done to save in taxes.

OK, let’s get right to the bottom line: This is a big-ass tax dodge. REITs are exempt from federal taxes. Ergo, Penn rents property to itself and then is “required by law to distribute at least 90 percent of [its] taxable earnings to shareholders as dividends.”

This sounds half like a sketchy big business avoiding taxes but also like smart business move that may provide better service to the customer on both the hotel and casino businesses. Service should become better since employees will be concerned with less and able to focus on creating better experiences.

Penn National is the only company doing this right now, but Seeking Alpha thinks that seperating hotel, casino and mall business would be a good idea for Las Vegas Sands (LVS) (The Venetian & The Palazzo).

LVS is known for its exceptional gaming and lodging brand, but the company’s value proposition is centered on three different (and integrated) business models: Malls, Lodging, and Gaming. Collectively, the company’s three platforms provide tremendous value, and individually, the pieces appear to be worth more than the whole.

I don’t think that big businesses are always able look to the customer first. Take LVS, their priority is split between casinos, hotels and malls on multiple continents. Taking 2/3rds of the worry out of the hands of one person, for example, and handing it to 3 experts in different fields should help make each company operate better.

Additionally if employee bonuses are tied to the performance of their individual company as opposed to all 3 divisions as one company there isn’t the ability to let focus go on a division.

This should produce a better experience for the customer. On the surface, I think separating casinos from hotel and malls could be a good thing for everyone.

Photo – kinchloe

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Encore Has High Toilets

Note: This won’t be graphic, just weird.

I don’t run into high toilets very often so it always stands out when I do. When I stayed at Encore last weekend I noticed that their toilet is higher than any other throne I’ve sat on in a while. I don’t like high toilets and I think it goes back to the first time I experienced a high toilet in Las Vegas.

I was staying at The Palazzo a few years ago and noticed that their toilet was higher then a normal toilet. I also noticed that I used it much less than normal. I asked some friends in other rooms if they had similar experiences and response was mixed. Some said yes, some said no and almost everyone said “WTF, Marc”.

A friend went into detail, that I won’t go into, explaining how and why there are some people that are more comfortable with toilets at a certain height. Either I have an issue with heights or he got into my head with his explanation and freaked me out for life.

Anyway, if you’re not comfortable with a high toilet this is a heads up that Encore, The Palazzo and The Venetian all have high toilets.

While looking for a picture on google I came across this fun video from Tosh.0 on high toilets. Daniel Tosh makes me laugh.

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Best Video Poker On The Las Vegas Strip

Royal Flush Video Poker at Red Rock Resort

Royal Flush!

I’ve been taking a look at the best video poker from Atlantic City to Las Vegas recently. Today I decided to look to see which casinos offered the best video poker on the Las Vegas Strip. The Vegas strip does NOT include places just off the strip like Palms and Hard Rock Casino.

Most casinos offer good video poker games in their high limit rooms with games starting at $5 so I decided to look at the best video poker games under $5 since that’s what more people play.

The good video poker games listed here are between 10 cents and $2 with max bets from 50 cents to $10. The pay table percentages are all based on max bets. Once again casinos are listed from best video poker to worst.

  1. Circus Circus 100.25% Aces and Eights
  2. Excalibur 99.58% Triple Double Bonus
  3. Luxor 99.54% Jacks or Better (JoB)
  4. New York-New York 99.54% JoB
  5. Treasure Island 99.54% JoB
  6. Mandalay Bay 99.20% Loose Deuces Wild
  7. Aria 99.17% Bonus Poker (BP)
  8. Casino Royale 99.17% BP
  9. Riviera 99.17% BP
  10. Tropicana 99.17% BP
  11. MGM Grand 99.11% DB
  12. Mirage 99.11% Double Bonus (DB)
  13. Wynn 99.11% DB
  14. Caesars Palace 98.45% JoB
  15. Flamingo 98.45% JoB
  16. Palazzo 98.45% JoB
  17. Planet Hollywood 98.45% JoB
  18. Venetian 98.45% JoB
  19. Bally’s 98.01% BP
  20. Cosmopolitan 98.01% BP
  21. Encore 98.01% BP
  22. Harrah’s 98.01% BP
  23. Paris 98.01% BP
  24. The Quad 98.01% BP
  25. Monte Carlo NA
  26. Stratosphere NA

The biggest surprises from this research is that there are positive returning machines on the Vegas strip (Circus Circus) and that the Stratosphere has absolutely no playable video poker games according to vpFREE. Monte Carlo has playable video poker but all are $5 machines.

All information from vpFREE2, the best place to research video poker. Each casino links to their respective page on vpFREE.

Also see: Best Video Poker Downtown Vegas. Best Video Poker in Atlantic City.

I practice video poker with the WinPoker app on my iPhone. It’s $9.99 and worth every penny. It’s the best way to practice video poker.

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Walk Up Sportsbooks In Vegas

Over the past year or so there has been an influx of walk up sportsbooks in Las Vegas casinos. Most recently Cantor Gaming has introduced a walk up sportsbook at The Palazzo and another at Palms.

The walk up sportsbook at The Palazzo is all about convenience and access. Lagasse’s Stadium is located in the basement of the casino and typically only to be found by people seeking it out. It’s also a relatively long haul for someone staying at the hotel since it’s located on the opposite end of the property. The walk up sports betting desk at The Palazzo is in the center of the casino and will catch the casual sports bettor as well as people that are leaving the casino and don’t want to forget to place their bet.

On the surface, the Walk up sportsbook at Palms is a little more curious since the actual sportsbook is only a 90 second walk away. However, the sportsbook is out of site in the corner of the casino that’s more for Vegas locals then tourists. This walk up section is located near the hotel elevators and table games where the tourists and gamblers are. Again, this will reach casual sports bettors.

William Hill has self-serve sports betting kiosks at bars across the whole state of Nevada and offer the ability to bet on sports outside of a casino without even dealing with people.

Even though sports betting only makes up a small part of a casinos bottom line it is growing in awareness with these non-traditional placements. Don’t be surprised that these walk up sportsbooks and kiosks replace actual sit down sportsbooks in the future.

As fantasy football and betting with apps continue to grow in popularity sportsbooks are being filled with people that aren’t generating any income for the casino or sportsbook. Unless all sportsbooks and/or casinos get into the fantasy football business (like Cantor Fantasy) why would a casino dedicate their real estate to people not spending money with them? They won’t.

 

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The Cosmopolitan Is The Best Hotel In The WORLD?!

A travel planning website, Gogobot.com, recently named the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas as their #1 HOTEL IN THE WORRRRRRLD! Here’s what they have to say.

Very trendy and elegant. My favorite Vegas hotel on the strip!

OK. Further down the best hotels in the world list is Wynn Las Vegas at #7. (Wynn is #5 in North America)

This place is one of my favorite places on the vagas strip. I love the pool too. If i had one complaint its that its all the way on one end of the strip….

The location and lack of action on the north end of the Vegas strip has kept me from visiting Wynn and Encore. That’s a shame because I really like both casinos. Unfortunately most people want to meet or stay in the middle of the action. Even though The Palazzo and The Venetian are just across the street both seem to feel much closer to the action of the Vegas strip.

I’ve never heard of Gogobot before. Here’s what the website is all about.

Whether it is a week’s vacation, a business trip or a weekend getaway, we believe planning your trip should be almost as fun as the trip itself. We believe the best advice comes from people you trust – people like you – and not from anonymous strangers on the internet. We believe sharing your experiences should be as simple as touching the screen on your phone. We are passionate about technology and design and their power to reshape our world for the better.

There are a lot of awards about casino design and not much on the site’s content. With that being said, I can’t really hold their “Best Hotel” Awards with having any merit. Even though I really like the Cosmo, I’d trust Trip Advisor or Yelp before the editorial from a new website that I’ve never heard of.

Photo: Flickr  kajo0069

Tweet me @eastcoastgamblr

 

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Navigating G2E

This is my third time at the Global Gaming Expo (G2E) and I always forget some basics about the conference so I figured I might as well prepare for next year and let other people know some smart tips ongetting to G2E at The Venetian and navigating once you’re there.

  • Arrive Early – G2E is the most busy convention of the year at Venetian since many people in the casino and gaming business are from Las Vegas. This makes parking a premium at The Venetian.
  • Use Valet at The Venetian – If you’re going to park at The Venetian use the valet located in the parking garage. This will save time looking for a spot. It will also save you time looking for a space and when you leave. It took me about 20 minutes to navigate out of the parking lot yesterday.
  • Park at The Palazzo – If you’re hell bent on not using the valet then park at The Palazzo. The walk from the garage to the Sands Expo Center is maybe two minutes longer, but there’s much less traffic.
  • Enter and Exit From The Rear – The main entrance is a cluster after 9am. The entrance from Koval has less traffic coming in and less chaotic leaving.
  • Wear Comfortable Shoes – The expo floor is huge and you’ll walk a lot. I saw at least three women walking barefoot and carrying their heels by 1pm. Don’t be that girl.
  • Beware Contradictory Policies – Even if you’re considered press it doesn’t mean you have typical press access. Security is instructed not to allow pictures or video. That’s controlled by the employees of the companies. Make a friend and they’ll let you take pictures. It’s annoying and counterintuitive, but that’s the deal.
  • Blend In – You can take pictures with your phone if you seem like you belong there. Again, counterintuitive but that’s the deal.
  • Don’t Be Scrrrrd – Like every conference some panels are better then others. If you’re not into it then just walk out.
  • First Food & Bar – This is a great restaurant and it’s kind of hidden in the Grand Canal Shops. Not a lot of people are aware of it since it’s not easily seen. Good food and great meeting spot.

This is a really well run conference, but the amount of people can seem overwhelming. A little preparation saves time and lessens frustration. Hopefully I’ll remember all of this next year.

**Update: arrive before noon for valet, both The Venetian & The Palazzo are only allowing hotels guests in the afternoon.

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I Hope This Doesn’t Mean 6:5 Blackjack Is Coming To Venetian and Palazzo

Venetian Blackjack Table

Venetian Blackjack Table

I was doing my weekly catch up on Las Vegas news on Sunday when I saw a post on Wizard of Odds that made me cringe a little.

A little background first. Wizard of Odds is my go-to for any gaming odds and strategy. I source their information often. In fact, when I wrote about where to find the best blackjack in Las Vegas for Vegas Chatter I used their information.

I didn’t realize that Michael Shackleford worked at Las Vegas Sands (Venetian & Palazzo) until I read that he was no longer working there.

Let it be known I am no longer working for the Venetian. It would be an understatement to say that my feelings about the termination are acrimonious.

…I started with the Sands corporation on April 30, 2012. My job title was Director of Gaming Mathematics. Physically, I worked in the Venetian, but my job was at the corporate level, pertaining to all things table games in all the Sands casinos worldwide.

Venetian and Palazzo both have some of the best blackjack that you will find on the Las Vegas strip. Specifically, Palazzo is my favorite place to play blackjack on the Vegas strip.

I’m not sure if Mr. Shackleford is the reason for the good blackjack, but I’m sure it didn’t hurt. The rest of their games are strip average at best. Venetian and Palazzo’s 3:2 blackjack dealt from a shoe for all denominations stand out from the Continuous Shuffle Machines at MGM properties and the 6:5 blackjack at Caesars properties.

I hope Mr. Shackleford’s departure from Las Vegas Sands doesn’t mean that the blackjack will go away too. Even though I don’t know him I wish Mr. Shackleford the best.

 

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Rumor: Which Vegas Casino Filed Chapter 11?

Dave McKee from who writes the awesome Stiffs & Georges blog threw out an interesting question on twitter this morning about a Las Vegas strip casino going belly up (or restructuring debt) by filing Chapter 11.

He didn’t say “Company” so you rule out MGM Resorts, Venetian/Palazzo, Wynn or Caesars properties immediately. Duetche Bank has been looking to sell the Cosmopolitan before the end of the year for a while now so you can understand why that’s not in the running. That doesn’t leave many properties to left on the strip for possible Chapter 11.

Who ya got from the remaining strip properties?

  • Tropicana
  • Casino Royale
  • Riviera
  • Treasure Island

Unless Phil Ruffin is looking for a tax write off, I don’t see him divesting of Treasure Island so soon and I haven’t heard a peep about Casino Royale ever.

That leaves Tropicana and Riviera as possible casinos to file for Chapter 11. Both have had financial trouble, but after a relaunch of the Tropicana went nowhere and President Tom McCartney left there hasn’t been much positive good talk about the property. In fact, the only real news from Tropicana has been about it’s club not opening.

Meanwhile on the other end of the strip Riviera has been trying to create a niche for itself with constant marketing and promotion. I’m not sure this is working, but it’s difficult to imagine that it’s not helping. Of course, it may not be working which would give cause for Chapter 11.

I don’t think silence is can’t be a good thing here and I’d have to imagine that Tropicana is the strip property about to announce Chapter 11.

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Cantor Gaming Adds Another Sportsbook In Las Vegas

Cantor Gaming Adds Another Sportsbook In Las Vegas..Blah Blah Blah. Instead of writing about each addition I figure I’ll give a guide to each Cantor Gaming sportsbook and list highlights.

  • Lagasse’s Stadium (Palazzo) – Restaurant, Bar, Stadium Seating, Mini Casino, Outdoor Billiards, Skyboxes. Easily the best sportsbook. Anywhere.
  • Venetian – Biggest and brightest sportsbook TV’s I’ve ever seen. A lot of room. Bar with video poker in back of book.
  • Tropicana – Huge with ample seating. Feels like mission control. Can enter without going into casino via MGM Grand bridge.
  • Cosmopolitan – This place is tiny and awkward. The only reason to go here is because it’s in Cosmo and close to Holsteins Burgers and Marquee.
  • Palms – Small and crowded sportsbook that has an adjoining poker room. If you don’t mind the click clack of chips in the background, this is fine.
  • Hard Rock – Small sportsbook that, besides football season, is never really crowded. Drink service is minimal so BYO.
  • MResort – This is where is all began for Cantor Gaming. With all of the new sportsbooks, this sportsbook looks and feels old. It can use an update.
  • Silverton – Silverton is considered a locals casino and is located between Mandalay Bay and M Resort. This sportsbook fits perfectly with the casino and is a sneaky great place to watch a game.

There are upsides to Cantor Gaming sportsbooks, like the new, beautiful television screens and nifty technology, but you will not receive a comp drink unless you’re betting $10,000 per game, you won’t receive any casino comps and you’ll be lucky to see a cocktail waitress walk by to get you a drink.

This list will be updated as Cantor Gaming adds more casinos.

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Coming Soon From MGM: FREE ROOMS (+ $100 Resort Fee)

Yesterday, Vegas Chatter, revealed that MGM Resorts is raising their resort fees across the board at their Las Vegas hotels and casinos.

Bellagio, MGM Grand, Aria, Vdara, The Mirage, Mandalay Bay — now $25 (previously $20)
Monte Carlo — now $20 (previously $15)
New York-New York, Luxor — now $18 (was $15)
Excalibur — now $15 (from $12.50)
Circus Circus — now $8.95 (up from $7.95)

Hotels charge a separate resort fee to give the illusion of cheap room rates. As hotel companies continue to raise resort fees in an effort to make their room rates look more competitive or cheaper than other hotels in the market it’s hard to imagine that one of these companies won’t discount their rooms so much that it looks as if the room is free.

Imagine this scenario in the future: The fee for your room at Luxor is $1 but it actually costs $100 after the resort fee. Meanwhile, down the street, you’re much newer room at Cosmopolitan also costs $100 and the don’t charge a resort fee.

Your net room fee is the same at $100 in this case. Where will you stay? A lot of people would choose the $1 room even if it’s the same price as the newest rooms in Vegas because of the fee they see up front. People are, generally, lazy and  simply didn’t do the math.

Resort fees suck, but we all have to deal with it. When pricing rooms you should always add the resort fee to the room rate to get the actual price you’ll have to pay for the room. It’s a pain in the butt, but it will give clarity when comparing room rates. Check here for a list of current resort fees and what you get.

At the end of the day the power is always with the consumer and your money. It is your choice to spend, or not spend, money on resort fees and the companies that charge them. If you don’t like the MGM resort fees then you probably shouldn’t stay, eat, drink or gamble at their properties. The dollar speaks louder than words.

On a personal note while I don’t like resort fees, per se, they don’t really bother me. I don’t mind doing the work to come to an all-in price to see if I’m getting a good or bad deal when going on vacation. Sometimes the resort fee that covers in-room wifi for an extra $10 is fine. Other times it’s not. I depends on the purpose of the trip and location.

There have been trips where I don’t mind paying $20 to sit in my Palazzo suite and use wifi because I’m feeling lazy, while there are other times where I’ll stay at a Caesars property and don’t mind going somewhere off site for wifi.

Copyright © 2017 Marc Meltzer & EDGe Vegas