I have two distinct lives. One in the trenches of low-budget film and television, the other in professional gambling. Because of the feast-or-famine nature of show business I need a reliable income... gambling. So here you will read about both worlds. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 8, 2016

When Vegas started changing.

I remember when I first noticed it. About 10 years ago my friend Minnie (who has lived in Las Vegas for 40 years) had a meeting at Mandalay Bay.  She was running late, and pulled into valet.  The valet said, "Are you staying in the hotel?"
She said, "No, just here for a meeting."
"I'm sorry but the valet is full, and we can only take hotel guests."
Minnie said, "I understand" and tried to hand him a $20.  "This is for you. I'm late for a meeting."
The valet said, "I'm sorry, I can't park it if you're not staying here."
Minnie's reaction was, "Am I still in Las Vegas?"

Vegas was the town where a $20 handshake got you an upgrade to the presidential suite, or front row to see Frank Sinatra. Eating at a casino was cheaper than buying food and cooking at home.  I started to look around and saw that now the buffet wasn't $4.95, it was $49.95.  And it all just kept coming:
Resort Fees
Late check out fee
Early check in fee
Pay for the coffee pods in your room
This year - pay for parking
And finally - pay for drinks while you are gambling at the bar.

Benny Binion is rolling in his grave. (Bennie was the first guy to start giving away free drinks to his players.)  It has gotten so bad that this was an article recently discretionary comps help casino build loyalty. Think about that.  It has gotten so bad that someone thought it noteworthy to report on a casino giving out comps!

Change is inevitable.  This all was brought to mind this week when I stopped by The Klondike for their $1.49 bacon and eggs.  I thought, yeah, this is what it was like.  But at the same time I came out reeking of cigarette smoke. Not everything about the old days was so great.


Uncle Fester said...

I'm a low roller, much like the occasional guest on your show, I think he goes by "Jimmy Jazz". I've visited LV since the late 1990's, 3 or 4x a year. I'd get enough offers and comps to keep me coming back, with a modest goal of merely breaking even, to win (or be comped) enough to pay for room and food and gas for the roundtrip from Phoenix.

But it has been getting harder and harder. What had been a $39 weeknight room downtown is now $79 with a $27 resort fee. And now to pay for parking on the Strip? Sorry, but I just can't do it. I'm done.

In my gambling youth, I was a loyal customer of the Laughlin casinos which were all new at the time. I thought about returning there, but Laughlin has been on death watch for over a decade now. Every recession hits it hard and it never seems to come back. It's a sad place to visit now.

It's like the casino industry doesn't want my business any more.

Richard Munchkin said...

I think you will find that you can still get better treatment at the "locals" places like S Point or Stations. They aren't as nice as the strip places but the payback on all games is better, and prices more reasonable.

Uncle Fester said...

Oh, I never ever gambled on the Strip. Always downtown (my first real Vegas gambling experience was at Binion's when the family still owned it) or at the locals places, the Boyd casinos like Gold Coast and Sams Town, the Cannery's, and at South Point. But they're all charging resort fees and higher room rates now too.

freddy said...

Who says the Boyd casinos or 4 Queens charge resort fees?
That's wrong. None of the 4 do.

Richard Munchkin said...


I know the 4 Queens and El Cortez don't, but Boyd includes Sam's Town, Gold Coast, and Orleans. I thought they all charged resort fees.

freddy said...

Not the Downtown Boyd places, MSS, Cal and Fremont.
El Cortex actually now DOES have a resort fee which is a joke with not even a pool.

Uncle Fester said...

The only room offer I currently have is from Sam's Town which has a fee of I believe $12 per night, even on comped nights. I also checked Orleans and Gold Coast; they both have fees. Thanks for the tip that the downtown Boyd joints don't have a resort fee... I just assumed they all did. I have stayed at the Fremont, Cal, and 4Q and wasn't impressed with them (Fremont doesn't even have self-parking). Only because the Golden Nugget used to be our go-to hotel for many years... but they now charge a $27 resort fee.

Can you appreciate that trying to stay current on who's charging which fees for what, does not really enhance my Vegas experience? Apparently many people can ignore being nickled and dimed to death, but I just can't.

Anonymous said...

You stopped by The Klondike this week? Or was it 10 years ago? Either you got a cheap breakfast or a motorcycle. Not even Arizona Charlies has those memorable breakfast prices anymore.

Richard Munchkin said...

Yes I was there this week, and they do have a bacon and egg special for $1.49.