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: Barrick has been working on upgrading the Plaza. Do you think they'll ever get that stench out of there? Is it possible to put that smell into words?

NPC: >laughter< I know *exactly* what you mean. I think it's a permanent part of the place. They'll get the smell out long about the time they allow dancing in the Omaha Lounge.

I honestly can't tell if the Barrick folks are geniuses or certifiable. Anyone redeveloping downtown has my blessing, but we'll see where this leads. If you look at their long-term plan, it's either insane or inspired. I guarantee that if they get some momentum it will be fun to watch.

VT: We're going to throw out some names, and you tell us your predictions for 2005 and beyond.

NPC: Sure. As with all these things, there's no real reason for anyone to care what I have to say. I don't have any "inside" contacts. I don't have any industry experience. Sometimes I guess right, sometimes I don't. That being said, making predictions is fun, so I'm just going to live a little.

1) Golden Gate

This is a small place that appears to be limping along. I like the style, but I'm not sure it can be made successful. It wouldn't surprise me to see this place change hands in the near future. Certainly, in the short term it's the most likely downtown casino to do so. I hope it can be salvaged, but I'm not sure it can.

2) El Cortez

One way or another, some day Jackie Gaughan won't be able to run this place any more, and Barrick will buy it out. I've given Mr. Gaughan a lot of crap on my web site, but at the same time I have a tremendous amount of respect for him. Heck, in this interview I refer to folks like Steve Wynn as if we were buddies who grew up in the same neighborhood, but to me it will always be "Mr. Gaughan". When that day comes, it will be sad, but it is inevitable. When that does happen, expect Barrick to come up with some wild plan for the site. I'm waiting to see if they actually follow through on their plans for the Western site first, though.

3) Sahara

I can't tell if the Sahara's condition is improving or getting worse. As the Strip redevelopment moves north, something will happen to this property, and I don't think the Bennett family will have the money to build a new mega-resort by themselves. A complete guess, but I think it has a few reasonably good years left, although if the right offer comes along... .

4) Riviera

Lots of rumors are circling around this place. After Wynn opens and the Stardust upgrade, I would guess that this is the next north property to get revamped. I'm guessing something big will happen on the order of one to two years after a major change to this place's ownership happens.

5) Circus-Circus

Assuming that the MGM Mirage/Mandalay merger goes through, my guess as to the order of Las Vegas site development for the combined company is as follows:

1) Boardwalk
2) The "Project Z" site, south of Mandalay Bay.
3) Circus Circus

It probably has at least a few years left.

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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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