Nick's Picks 2005: Interview with Nick Christenson from the Las Vegas Casino Deathwatch

Boom, Bust or Ba-Boom! - what's up in Vegas for 2005 and beyond

Posted by Chuckmonster

Nick Christenson is the webmaster of the fabulous Las Vegas Casino Death Watch website, by far one of the most entertaining and informative Vegas websites out there. His dry observations and analysis of the ever changing state of the Vegas casino industry is endlessly amusing, thoughtful, insightful, kooky, provocative and usually right on the money. Nick's color commentary on Vegas is like reading about a multi-billion-dollar slow-motion chess match where the joints themselves are the pieces - Harrah's Takes Caesars, leaving Rio in check. We chatted with Nick via email about LVCDW website, the current state of various casinos in Vegas, and his predictions for 2005 and beyond.

VT: Hey Nick, thanks for chatting with us.

NPC: My pleasure. I like your web site. You've got a lot of cool information.

VT: First off, tell us a little about yourself - how you ended up in Vegas and what attracted you to casino culture.

NPC: After moving to southern California, I became a pretty serious amateur poker player. Naturally, being in the neighborhood, I started visiting Las Vegas. I was fascinated. What really intrigued me was that each casino seemed to have its own style. It was like comparing music or art from different artists and eras. I was determined to explore them all.

VT: Tell us about your site Las Vegas Casino Death Watch. You started LVCDW in 1998, what provoked it?

NPC: Needless to say, in my early visits to Las Vegas I didn't get to see every casino. Some of these, namely the Pioneer, Hacienda, and Sands, closed after my first trip, but before I had a chance to visit them. Because of this, I investigated which casinos were likely to close so I could make sure I could see them before that happened. I found very little information out there on this topic, but I sensed a fair amount of interest. So I started compiling it myself. Now that I'm a local, it's easier to track what's going on, since it's all local news.

VT: When the LVCDW website opened (1998) Vegas was in the throes of its "themed mega-resort building boom" started by the opening of Wynn's Mirage in 1989... in the years prior and following, Paris, Mandalay Bay, New York-New York, Excalibur, Luxor, Treasure Island, Palms were built and classic joints like the Dunes, Sands, Hacienda, Aladdin, Vegas World and the Desert Inn returned to desert dust. What are your thoughts about the destruction of the 'old' Vegas?

NPC: Well, the evolution of the resort industry in Las Vegas is probably its most enduring theme. Really, nothing could be more "Vegas" than tearing down casinos to build new ones. However, in this renewal process something worthwhile is lost. This is replaced by some good new stuff, and the process is exciting, but it's good that some folks celebrate what it is that's being replaced. I don't think it's so much that the old "Vegas" is better than the new "Vegas", it's just that old "Vegas" is going away, and at least some of it deserves to be remembered.

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Comments & Discussion

I work at Circus Circus, and it won't be getting demolished for sometime. Actually, there's enough cash flow to renovate the place into it's original decorating scheme (Circus Colors, pinks, whites, reds, purples) that it had before the 1997 renovations. And other than that, MGMMirage needs a mid-level resort to send their customers to, and thats exactly what Circus is.

We frequent Las Vegas 3 times a year. Tried many hotels. Our favorite hotel/casino is The Flamingo. Location is the key. Can you comment on any future plans for The Flamingo. It needs some upgrading particularly in the vent system The air does not circulate well enough to handle all the smoke in the casino. Hopefully something will be done to help this problem. Other than that we are happiest there.

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