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

VT: How do these newer joints stack up to the classics?

NPC: In many cases, very well. Let's face it, a lot of the old joints are or were dumps. Sure, the new places are larger and less personal, and the "corporatization" of Las Vegas is palpable. On the other hand, the food is better, there are a *lot* more entertainment options, there are many more things to see and do, and some of them are worthwhile. Even though the old places had some class and personal attention, the primary reason to celebrate them is that they're gone. I think if the Dunes exactly as it was in 1970 were to reopen, it would be a curiosity for a while and then folks would abandon it, and rightly so. That doesn't mean it's not worth remembering.

VT: Looking toward the future, how do you think the opening of the Wynn Resort is going to affect north/central part of the Strip, particularly the pissing match between Wynn and Sheldon Adelson (owner of the Venetian)?

NPC: First, I *love* the pissing match between Wynn and Adelson. Healthy competition, even rivalry, is generally good. The Powers That Be in Nevada are so busy bending over at every whim of the resort industry that the only folks who can really keep casinos in check are the other casinos. Plus, the constant push for excellence improves the customer experience. I pity those areas of the country that have just one casino. What drives them to improve? If a locality is going to approve the construction of a casino, they should always approve the construction of two.

Second, it has been clear for quite some time that eventually the north Strip would be redeveloped. If the Strip continues to grow, it will expand and renew itself in all directions eventually. It appears that it's finally the North Strip's turn for redevelopment. It was only a question of when. It will be fun to watch how this develops.

VT: What casinos are going to be most affected by the opening of Wynn Las Vegas? How long do you give the New Frontier? Stardust?

NPC: Well, this makes the whole neighborhood more valuable. This means there's money to perform the redevelopment. It sounds like Boyd Gaming will announce what they're planning to do on the Stardust property this spring. Will it include razing the place, or will it be an incremental upgrade? We don't know. Certainly, this ought to affect the New Frontier, but everyone on the planet, it seems, has been in negotiations with Phil Ruffin (the owner) about doing a deal on that property. Not much has come of it. We'll see what happens. There are some pretty empty lots, such as the old Silver City site, that may become something as well.

VT: You've raised some interesting hypotheses on your site, particularly the possibility of Harrah's wrestling the Imperial Palace away from the Englestad family and re-branding it as a Horseshoe casino. This sounds like a great idea, and would give Harrah's/Caesars a nearly complete lock on center Strip, do you think this is still a possibility?

NPC: Wrestling is a strong word, and I'm not sure there's enough room there to build a mega-resort in a form that's in vogue today, but I can't imagine the two companies haven't at least talked. What will happen? I don't know. It's clear that Harrah's wants to build a Horseshoe somewhere on the Strip. There really aren't that many places available for it to go. It's also clear to me that the Imperial Palace isn't likely to remain independent for very much longer. Absorption into Harrah's/Caesars seems like a pretty natural possibility. In the mean time, when it rains the IP parking garage provides the finest white-water rafting in the state.

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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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