Dr. Deathwatch Returns : Nick's Picks 2007

Las Vegas Casino Death Watch's Nick Christenson Gives His Annual Post Mortem for the Las Vegas Casino Industry

Posted by Chuckmonster

For the third year running, we've invited our friend Nick Christenson, the original Vegas blogger responsible for the mighty Las Vegas Casino Death Watch to perform a post-mortem on all of the major developments in Las Vegas 2006 and do a little prognostication on 2007 and beyond.

Without further adieu, we bring you the one and only...

Dr. Deathwatch.

Nick Christenson: Thanks, but in the interest of full disclosure I want to point out that it's only an honorary doctorate. I got it by sending a check for $35 to some outfit in the Caribbean who sent me email.

VT: Let's skip the small talk and get right into it. Lots of unexpected twists to the plot this year. What event in the Vegas casino industry shocked you most?

NC: Well, let's start with the expected. Bourbon Street and the Boardwalk were demolished. The Stardust closed, and absolutely nothing happened to the New Frontier. Red Rock opened. None of these events are surprising.

The Barbary Coast switches hands, but even those who might be surprised by this can't possibly be shocked by it. On the other hand, the Tropicana and Hard Rock changed hands, the Riviera and Sahara didn't. Each of these is at least mildly surprising, but none of the outcomes are truly shocking.

Already this year, we've got the potential to see Hooters change hands, and that has to be a bit of a shock. We'll see if it actually changes hands.

I would have to say that the thing that most surprised me this year, though, was the trend toward privatization of the big gaming companies. Harrah's and Station are in the process of going private, and more may follow. I understand this, but at the beginning of the year, I sure didn't anticipate it.

We'll talk more about this later, I'm sure.

VT: Boyd Gaming isn't messing around, 14 months from the Stardust's closure announcement until it's date with the Controlled Demolition Inc.. Echelon Place and Project City Center are both semi-mixed use casinominiums with an array of boutique hotels surrounding them like pawns on a chess table. Since they will both open at approximately the same time, how do you see these (somewhat) similar mixed-use joints performing in a head-to-head match up?

NC: Casinominimus. I like that.

The big difference is in the "tale of the tape". MGM Mirage is estimating its costs at $7 billion for City Center while Boyd is estimating Echelon will cost a mere $4 billion. Based on top secret inside information the Death Watch was able to obtain along with our own detailed computer models that are far too complex to describe here, we believe that the extra $3 billion for City Center will be spent on "cool stuff, and more of it". Echelon will be plenty exciting, but it will be #2. The important question for Boyd is not so much how Echelon compares to City Center, but how Echelon compares to the other Las Vegas destinations that currently comprise the top 33 percentile. As a complete guess, I believe it will be good enough to achieve what they want to achieve.

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