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December 5th, 2019 at 11:59:36 AM permalink
Top 10 new experiences in Las Vegas.
By Gary Trask

10. “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign
Hard to believe that despite dozens of trips to Las Vegas over the last decade, I’ve never actually stopped and visited the iconic "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" sign.

Yes, it’s corny, contrived and “touristy.” Having said that, I’m glad I finally made it there. I’m a sucker for history and this historic landmark sign certainly has plenty of that.

9. New sportsbook at Park MGM
I was never a fan of the former Monte Carlo Resort and Casino on the Strip and was happy to see MGM Resorts rebrand the property a few years ago and replace it with the Park MGM. While the transition was a bit awkward, I’ve come to really enjoy all that the newly refreshed casino has to offer, most notably the new Eatly section.

As for the new sportsbook that opened earlier this year, I almost hesitate to call it that because it’s more of a sports bar with betting windows, rather than your traditional Las Vegas sportsbook, along the same lines as The Book at The LINQ Hotel + Experience that opened last year, or Lagasse’s Stadium at The Venetian Las Vegas.

8. Circa Sportsbook
While the new Circa Sportsbook at Golden Gate Hotel & Casino may be small in stature, this newcomer to the sportsbook operator space is doing some innovative things that have avid sports bettors like yours truly very excited.

First things first. The new sportsbook venue here is tiny at a shade under 1,300 square feet. There is a very cool video wall with vivid and easy-to-read LED boards displaying betting odds and two betting kiosks. This is definitely the kind of place you come to place bets and take advantage of the creative offerings being posted, rather than a book you would come and spend the entire day at.

7. Running Rich Reels slot game
The main reason for the most recent trip to Las Vegas was to attend the Global Gaming Expo, otherwise known as G2E and one of the biggest industry shows on the annual calendar.

Every year, the conference floor at the Sands Expo Center is jam-packed with some of the newest casino innovations and this year I was lucky enough to give a few of them a test ride, which, in the case of the Running Rich Reels, is the perfect way to describe it.

The game is the brainchild of Keith Winters from Competition Interactive and has been a work in progress for a few years. After initially being released in Las Vegas last year as primarily a skill game, Winters and his team took all the feedback they got and took it to heart. They went back to the drawing board and “reimagined” the game so that it is now a hybrid between skill and slot game.

6. Virtual horse racingVirtual horse racing by Virtual Media Group will be popping up at sportsbooks at MGM properties in Las Vegas.
Virtual horse racing by Virtual Media Group will be popping up at sportsbooks at MGM properties in Las Vegas.

Full disclosure: When I first heard about the Winners Circle virtual horse racing game that you can bet real money on, I was skeptical.

But after seeing the vivid graphics and hearing more about the game and the wagering options from its team of developers from Virtual Media Group, I was more than intrigued and apparently I’m not alone.

5. The future of casinos
While visiting the massive Scientific Games area at G2E, we received a heavy dose of what the future may look like on the casino floor and, well, it was downright scary.

Call me old school (you won’t be the first to do so!), but the thought of sitting down at a blackjack table and having facial recognition technology pick up on my ugly mug and let the casino immediately know who I am, what my average wager is and what on-property restaurants I frequent is a bit creepy.

4. Drinks at SkyBar at Waldorf Astoria
Over the years, the Eiffel Tower Bar at Paris Las Vegas and the 107 SkyLounge at The STRAT Hotel, Casino and SkyPod have become regular stops on every trip to Las Vegas for sunset cocktails and now there’s a third venue high atop the Strip to add to this list.

The Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas, formerly the Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas, is a high-end hotel and condominium building that’s part of the massive CityCenter complex smack dab in the middle of the Strip. SkyBar is located on the 23rd floor and it’s well worth the trip up the elevator if you’re looking for a classy place to grab a few drinks and some apps.

3. CASBAR Lounge at The SAHARA
In August, when the former SLS Las Vegas officially introduced its rebrand back to the SAHARA Las Vegas name, Rachel Hunt, the property’s VP of marketing, told me that the new CASBAR Lounge, is “modern and more in style with the kind of lounge area you used to see in casinos all over Las Vegas.”

“There’s no cover charge,” she added. “Just a great place to have a drink, meet up with friends and watch the world go by.”

So, it probably comes as no surprise that the CASBAR was on my punch list of places to visit and it did not disappoint. Hunt’s description was spot on. The lounge is named after the original Sahara’s infamous music venue and it’s centrally located and elevated off the main floor, so it’s a great spot for people watching.

2. Whiskey Liquor Up at Binion’s
Let’s stay with the cocktail lounge theme and head to one of the newest bars in Downtown Las Vegas.

In addition to opening a new hotel, the legendary Binion’s Gambling Hall recently unveiled Whiskey Licker Up, described as a “full-service saloon.”

The 6,500-square-foot venue overlooks the Fremont Street Experience, directly above the First Street Stage, where there is frequently a live band playing, so, needless to say, this is now one of the best spots to grab a drink and watch the kind of craziness you can only see in Downtown Las Vegas. Adding to the unique atmosphere is the fact that the seats at the countertop bar overlooking the street are directly parallel to the Slotzilla Zoom Line, so you feel like you could reach out and touch the brave souls zipping by.

1. Vegas Knights home game
When you arrive in Las Vegas, especially if it’s during hockey season, it doesn’t take long to realize that this is a city that loves its hometown, home-grown Knights.

The Knights burst onto the scene as an expansion team in 2017 when they won the Western Conference and fell just a few games short of taking home the Stanley Cup. Ever since then the city is filled with everyone from bartenders and Uber drivers to residents and tourists wearing black and gold Knights hats, jerseys and other merchandise. "Let’s Go Knights" chants will randomly break out at bars, and, as I found out when I attended my first game at the T-Mobile Arena, game days are an event, not just a game.

When you arrive in Las Vegas, you realize how much the city loves its hometown Knights.

It would be hard to fathom any other NHL city going all out for a regular season game at the start of the season the way the Vegas Knights and their fans do it. Hours before the game, people begin gathering in The Park, the outdoor promenade of restaurants, sculptures and water fountains that leads from the Strip to the arena. They bring lounge chairs and start camping out and about an hour before face-off a parade, complete with a marching band and cheerleaders, enters to a huge ovation.

The T-Mobile Arena is completely filled before the game starts and the pregame ceremony is straight out of the Medieval Times restaurant scene in Jim Carrey’s “The Cable Guy.”

Once the game starts, the crowd is enthralled by every shot and hit along the boards. Visiting players are berated with a “Shame! Shame! Shame!” chant when called for a penalty and everyone from Shaq to Donnie Osmond to Siegfried & Roy welcome you to the game on the video board.

A few more things struck me from attending a Knights game. First, the amount of women fans. I don’t have any factual data to back this up, but it seemed to me the crowd was at least 30% to 40% female and most of them were donning some sort of Knights paraphernalia.

Secondly, I remember a time not too long ago when cellphones weren’t even allowed in a sportsbook. But we have come so far as a society here in the U.S. when it comes to sports betting, even in Las Vegas, that I was able to sit back, and wager on the action on my phone as it unfolded live in front of my eyes. While this has been going on overseas at soccer games for decades, it was a refreshing first for this long-time sports bettor.

Finally, it will be interesting to see if the city embraces the NFL Raiders next year when the team officially moves to Las Vegas. I have no doubt the NFL will be a success here, but the fact that the Raiders are not homegrown like the Knights may mean it’s going to take a while for them to unseat the NHL team as top dog, if they ever do.
Stephen Au-Yeung (Legend of New Table Games®)
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December 5th, 2019 at 12:24:01 PM permalink
Quote: MrCasinoGames

5. The future of casinos
Call me old school (you won’t be the first to do so!), but the thought of sitting down at a blackjack table and having facial recognition technology pick up on my ugly mug and let the casino immediately know who I am, what my average wager is and what on-property restaurants I frequent is a bit creepy.

Creepy? Why? You have a smart phone that broadcasts your location at all times, you lease a car that checks in with LoJack frequently, Why should casinos get bogged down and stick to using quill pens and file-note cards? An ever more efficient information gathering system is to be expected.
Your identity and habits are valuable.

Gumshoe and flatfoot are archaic terms, private investigators carry laptops and sign onto databases, they don't peep over transoms anymore. Cops put a bumper beeper on your car and follow you from five miles back. That sidewalk you stroll is linked to a neighborhood camera network with real time access.
Last edited by: FleaStiff on Dec 5, 2019
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