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

VT: We both love Binion's. Last year you mentioned that MTR Gaming has done a decent job resuscitating Benny's joint from the last years of Becky's neglect. Recent financials say that MTR's Binion's operation hasn't been doing so well financially. What would you change at Binion's to bring back that magic?

NC: We do love Binion's, and they are improving the place. They just put down all new carpeting and are currently renovating the old east hotel closets, er, ah, rooms. The poker room is hopping again, thanks to a great mutual deal they've made with the televised Ultimate Poker Challenge.

What would really bring back the magic though is if they could go into the walls and between the floors and do structural fixes without having to worry about asbestos abatement.

The place is busier now than I've seen it in quite a while, so that's good. We'll be watching the quarterlies and see if they improve. If their run rate doesn't go black soon, though, I'm not hopeful about the place's future. If these changes don't do it, I'm not sure what can be done, in all honesty, other than wholesale replacement.

VT: Is it just me, or has the 'Plaza stench' finally gone away?

NC: No, you've just lost the last vestiges of your sense of smell. I admit, though, it has been reduced. I know exactly what you're talking about, though. I used to believe that one didn't perceive odors during dreams (or nightmares) until the week after I visited the Plaza for the first time. I'll give them credit for making this less pronounced.

VT: How have the other 'formerly Barrick' properties fared since Barrick split town last year?

NC: They've been stuck in idle. The Las Vegas Club pulled their sports book and many of their good video poker machines, the Gold Spike pulled its table games, and the Western pulled a groin muscle. In the Plaza, conveniently you can no longer check in to your room on the ground floor, so that's an improvement, I guess. It also looks like the Plaza severed its relationship with celebrity restaurateur, Larry Manetti, a tragedy that your readership is lamenting, I'm sure. That's about all they have to show for a year's worth of work, at least as far as I can see.

VT: What do you make of Fremont Street East, the new bar/club district that is planned for the area east of the Fremont Street Experience?

NC: I hear reasonably good things. Downtown is making slow progress, sometimes painfully slow, but progress nonetheless. The new businesses on 3rd street are an improvement, and finally things are happening regarding the huge parcel behind the Plaza. The area between the Fremont Street Experience and the El Cortez may be cleaned up and made more appealing, and that could help too. We'll see, but I don't expect rapid changes. Moreover, when the city has tried rapid changes, it hasn't always worked. *cough* Neonopolis. *cough*

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