February 29, 2020 AccessVegas.com Insider Vibe

Newkirk’s Notes

Access Vegas Founder Ted NewkirkHello From Las Vegas! – Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy. The biggest shake-up in a long, long time could be good for our visitors. Some of you have heard that MGM Resorts CEO Jim Murren is stepping down. For those not up to speed: He’s the guy who brought high resort fees, paid parking, and tons of other high prices and nickel-and-diming. Which ended up permeating most of the industry here.

For those new to the classroom, we generally don’t go way into the business side of Las Vegas here. Although, there have been calls for it in our Members Facebook Group. Hence, I am considering a time-to-time section at the bottom of our Members newsletter version for those interested. I’m constantly involved in talking the business side of Las Vegas with colleagues, industry people, and those in the media.

My involvement the past couple of years has aggressively centered on calling out MGM Resorts for these practices. I’ve frequently been speaking out in assorted articles about how fees were negatively affecting visitors, visitation rates, and simply leaving a bad taste in people’s mouths.

So… Ding, Dong… The Witch Is Dead! Let’s backtrack almost exactly two years, trace this amazing and fortunate downfall, talk about how and why it happened, and talk about what is next for Las Vegas!

On February 17, 2018, I wrote the following Op-Ed in the Review-Journal:

COMMENTARY: Some warning signs in Las Vegas tourism numbers

Let’s just say that suggesting the emperor has no clothes on isn’t popular. I got one very gruff phone message, and some of you may have noticed that we haven’t carried any MGM advertising nor promotions in a long, long time! (Except perhaps through a third party not associated with them). However, I really felt strongly about what they were doing to our visitors, the bad path they were taking, and was in a position to speak up.

While I can’t begin to take full credit for getting Murren out the door, what followed that op-ed was quarter-after-quarter of (usually) sub-par earnings calls. Jim Murren kept saying “wait until 2020, wait until 2020” and I was thinking “Yes, 2020 when everybody finally sees that your horrible treatment (financially) of your guests isn’t helping the business and you get shown the door.”

Disclaimer: Murren is resigning, but many feel that the company board of directors suggested that he do so.

In fact, many months ago, well back into 2019, I had specifically told anyone who will listen that Murren would be out the second half of 2020. (He’s taking his time stepping aside, and highly likely will within that window). People no longer think I’m nuts on that one!

I followed that “Warning Signs” article with a Letter To The Editor:

LETTER: No secret to the revival of downtown Las Vegas casinos

Here’s the crux of that letter:

As someone with more than two decades of Las Vegas tourism promotion, I can tell you what they are doing right: Lower limits, more favorable game rules, looser slots, free-flowing liquor comps, and more affordable food and beverage. They know they are going to get your money eventually. Not only isn’t it a sin to let you play longer, but even after you’ve lost that first $100 bill, you are more likely to pull out the next one because you got your entertainment value out of it.

The mantra of Strip casinos has been “people aren’t gambling as much, so we want to focus on other revenue sources.” The reality is that people aren’t gambling on the Strip as much in recent years because those casinos decided to choke the golden goose some time ago. Slots were tightened, limits were raised, house-favorable rules like lower-pay blackjack were instituted, and people simply lost their money more quickly.

Oh, and could downtown’s lower (or non-existent) resort fees, free guest parking and lower-priced dining (both fine and casual) be leaving people more money to gamble with? Food for thought.

I’ve been additionally quoted regarding the negatives of parking fees here, here, here, and here. Plus, articles such as South Point going strong with “old-school” playbook regarding casino operators who are doing it old-school (good odds, good rules, reasonably-priced food and beverage) and seeming to do just great!

The first major tip-off that all was not right in Murren-land was the sale of Circus Circus. This didn’t fit their long-term plan. Many years ago, the company had floated ideas for the empty land up there to be CityCenter North. MGM was also a key proponent of a billion-dollar (give or take, depending on the source) expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center. Which just so happened to sit in close proximity to both Circus Circus and all of that empty land!

Side Note: Playing connect-the-dots, there is also some thought that MGM Resorts was a proponent of the Convention Authority buying and blowing up The Riviera. Bye-bye competition, especially competition to Circus Circus! Think about it: They blew up The Riv for parking. And, in doing so, demolished two perfectly good hotel parking garages. Only to pave it over and turn it into a parking lot? Seem fishy to you? The Riv also had a nice amount of convention space, which seemed to stay busy with “working class” gatherings (billiards tournaments, etc).

The convention space and garages couldn’t have been salvaged and incorporated into the new plans? Kind of the way the front tower of the MGM Grand is actually the old Marina hotel? Oh, and you can’t make this stuff up. The Convention Authority decided they don’t need the land The Riv sat on. They are thinking of selling it. So yes, you Riv fans, it was completely imploded for absolutely nothing.

But I digress…

So, when he sold off Circus and all of that land, I believe that was the beginning of the white flag. His plans were not going well, earnings didn’t seem to be going well, the company wanted the cash in hopes that it would boost investor confidence, and he was kissing the long-term plans goodbye. Especially when you consider the hub of activity which is now the North Strip, and how that land will likely only grow in value starting in 2022 or 2023, it was NOT a long-term move.

This combined with the selling of the dirt and buildings of numerous properties they won wasn’t exactly a great, long-term sign either. Think about it? Do you mortgage your house when you are doing well? Or when something financially horrible has happened and you need the money?

For the most part, you can’t be kicked out of a house you own outright. Missing payments? That can do it. MGM Resorts is now a tenant in many of their buildings. If and when this “Trump Recession” that has been predicted for a number of years now actually happens (I’m not rooting for bad economic times, so don’t shoot the messenger), and money gets tight, what happens if they miss rent on buildings they own less than 50% of?

More and more, it was evident that these short-term moves could be interpreted as Murren temporarily looking to make the company’s financial footing look good on his way out.

When did I know the jig was up? When this story hit: MGM Resorts sets goal to get 100% of eggs from cage-free sources for all properties

What’s the big deal? The target date for accomplishing this was (drum roll please): 2030. 10 years from now. Huh?

I happened to be messaging TravelZork‘s Michael Trager that evening. He was scratching his head at this one (as was nearly everybody). I told him that this was simple:

Murren has been on a huge sustainability kick. The kind you’d expect to more see out of an Eastern (US) corporation. Not a Nevada gaming company. We don’t even have mandatory recycling in Las Vegas. Murren is from the east. Connecticut. That was his life before moving out here to work for MGM Resorts. I’ve heard that he and his wife have stayed active in various activities back in their home area, flying back to participate.

My personal opinion is that Murren never really liked nor adapted to Las Vegas. To add insult to injury, MGM Resorts may be Nevada’s biggest employer, but people of his ilk and from his region still may see the state as a backwater. And, I’m not sure he ever got over that.

I also believe much of the partnership with various sports teams, plus his drive to bring an NBA team to town, was him keeping doors open for his future. Here he is throwing out the first pitch in a Major League Baseball game in Japan.

I believe he’d do just about anything to get a comparable job in sports. Why? Not much gets by me:

By the way, he just sold a ton of stock as he’s on his way out. Which means that the attempts to shore up the company’s balance sheet with short-term efforts may have gone beyond him simply looking out for the best interests of the stockholders. Wait, on the other hand, he is one!

Let that all sink in a little.

Are resort fees, parking fees, and such going away overnight? Unfortunately not. In fact, Caesars just upped theirs at four resorts. After stating a number of months ago that resort fees might be hitting the ceiling on what they can charge.

Side Note: Nobody has brought this up yet, but I think this is in prep of them becoming more gambler-friendly, and thus possibly leading to more comps. Or, what I call “fake comps”, where the room is free but you pay the fee.

We’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, we’re working harder than ever to point out ways to stretch your dollar. On The Strip, Fremont Street and Downtown, and Near-Strip. There aren’t armed guards keeping you from slightly changing your latitude or longitude to grab a $2 beer or $8 complete steak dinner! Or, a fine steakhouse dinner with a cocktail for two while keeping the check in the $100 range. (Redwood Steakhouse at Cal downtown!)

PS Members Mania is back next week. This special event deserved an exhaustive and specific focus this issue.

Hope you are enjoying this issue!

Founder/Managing Editor
AccessVegas.com



Las Vegas Shows

The hard-charging and endlessly fun “Raiding the Rock Vault” opened at its fourth home in nearly seven years in Las Vegas this month, exploding onto the stage at the 172 music club and restaurant near the Chippendales Theater at the Rio.

Full Story/Details/Info/Video


Book Now! Raiding the Rock Vault Tickets!

Members: Read Ted’s Take on this story, and add your own comment or question for us



Las Vegas Dining

The Flamingo has a long history on the Strip dating back to the 1940s. Its new steakhouse will pay homage to that history.

Full Story/Details/Info/Video

Members: Read Ted’s Take on this story, and add your own comment or question for us



Las Vegas Hotels

Las Vegas is one of the fastest growing destinations in the country right now with new neighborhoods popping up nearly as fast as lawyer commercials on TV. Its residential evolution is influencing what’s possible for tourism, whether it’s the dining scene or attractions that are shifting away from casino culture.

Full Story/Details/Info/Video

Members: Read Ted’s Take on this story, and add your own comment or question for us



Las Vegas Tours And Attractions

Lake Las Vegas isn’t exactly one of the most-iconic parts of visiting Las Vegas. In fact, you may not even know it exists. But if you get tired of the glitz and glamour of the Strip, then you should definitely consider visiting Lake Las Vegas.

Full Story/Details/Info/Video

Members: Read Ted’s Take on this story, and add your own comment or question for us



Las Vegas Gambling

It’s quickly becoming a cashless world and some Las Vegas casinos are starting to go that route, as well. Following approval last year by the Nevada Gaming Commision, the Reno-based company Automated Cash Systems Inc has partnered with several casinos to install ATMs at various table games.

Full Story/Details/Info/Video



Other Las Vegas News


What We’re Watching!
Vegas Videos You’ll Enjoy

Click to watch video

Shania Twain – Las Vegas Show – Let’s Go! Sneak Peek

Shania Twain Las Vegas Residency Show at Planet Hollywood Zappos Theater. Shania shares what she loves about her Las Vegas show, the songs, the fans, and the incredible theater.

Get Tickets Now!

Click to watch video
Venetian Las Vegas – Grand Canal Shops – A Romantic Resort on the Strip

(Producers Notes) Today we explore the Venetian Resort on the Las Vegas Strip. This resort is massive! I feel in love with the Resort and I am pretty sure I saw only half of it.

Click to watch video
Eating at the WORST BUFFET in LAS VEGAS

(Producers Notes)Eating at the worst buffet in Las Vegas? The buffet at MGM GRAND LAS VEGAS.

Click to watch video
Hiking to the Arizona Hot Springs In Las Vegas

(Producers Notes) We took a trip to the Arizona Hot Springs. Its a 6 mile round trip hike with an elevation change of 800 feet. The trail offers 3 routes and we tried 2 of the 3. The hot springs were too hot to enjoy, but we still enjoyed the hike. Pack tons of water and a sack lunch.


Premium Insider Advantage Benefits Menu:

Thank you so much for being a AccessVegas.com Premium Insiders Advantage member. We really appreciate the support and we’re here for you!

How To Access What:

  • Vegas Super Secret Specials Spreadsheet is available here:

    Spreadsheet Version and Web Page Version now available!

    Keep in mind that specials are always subject to change. That is why we list the phone number for each restaurant or bar. Please DO call ahead to confirm the offer continues to be valid. Players Card May Be Required For Some Specials. If you find an offer that has ended, alert us at [email protected] and we’ll give you 50% off your membership dues next year for the help if you are the first to report it!

  • Our “Your Guy In Vegas” Feature – Got a Vegas question? Instead of spending too much time looking up information you might not be certain about, fire it to us! We live here, we know Las Vegas, and we’ll give you a professional answer! (Some restrictions apply). Email [email protected] and put Paid Subscriber in the subject line. That is also where to send us trip reports, Vegas feedback (good and bad) and more.
  • Members Mania! – We share the answers to great Vegas questions with all of our Premium Members, helping everyone who pitches in with a premium membership. Plus great visitor feedback that you can learn from. This will be right here in almost every issue.
  • The True Inside ScoopAccessVegas.com CEO Ted Newkirk has been writing “Newkirk’s Notes” for upwards of two decades, giving members the true inside guide to everything that is going on in Las Vegas. Valuable information from someone in the know to save you time and money!  This will be right here in almost every issue.



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For comments or questions regarding our content or this newsletter write us at [email protected].

February 29, 2020 ISSN: 1529-2770 About Us   Privacy Policy
Physical Address: 3565 Las Vegas Blvd. South #411, Las Vegas, NV 89109

February 11, 2020 AccessVegas.com Insider Vibe

Newkirk’s Notes

Access Vegas Founder Ted NewkirkHello From Las Vegas! – I had some scheduled time off to spend time with visiting family (my first break from this column in a while). HOWEVER…

However, I’m, not leaving you high-and-dry. We have an extra, heaping dose of Members Mania, where you learn as we help members with their Las Vegas questions and/or feature reports and experiences from members for everyone’s benefit.

One Important Note: Our “no coupon needed” Super Secret Specials Spreadsheet is now available in a more phone-friendly form. Pick the area you are in (North Strip, Mid-Strip, South Strip, Fremont Street, Off-Strip) from the links at the top of the page, and you can navigate and see what is close.

The access is in our membership area just below where you probably clicked to read this issue (unless you are viewing this as an archive).

Hope you are enjoying this issue!

Founder
AccessVegas.com

 



Las Vegas Shows

Wayne Newton Proud To Be Called Mr. Las Vegas

 

Mr. Las Vegas isn’t just a title. For Wayne Newton, it’s a state of mind. It’s why on Oct. 1, 2017, after the worst, he had no choice. “I was in Los Angeles planning to come home the following day. I went to bed. That’s when the news hit about the shooting. My wife woke me up and immediately we chartered a plane to come home.

Full Story/Details/Info/Video

Book Now! Wayne Newton: Up Close and Personal Tickets!

Members: Read Ted’s Take on this story, and add your own comment or question for us



Las Vegas Dining

5 Quirky Restaurants Help Prove Las Vegas Is Unique

 

“What happens in Vegas, only happens here” is true on so many levels, and one of them is the city’s huge and eclectic dining community. Here are some of the quirkier spots. The name pretty much says it all: As you dine, an endless parade of sushi on individual plates passes your table to be snagged from the belt at will.

Full Story/Details/Info/Video

Members: Read Ted’s Take on this story, and add your own comment or question for us



Las Vegas Hotels

Hard Rock Hotel In Las Vegas Will Party To The End. Here’s A Look Back At 25 Years

 

Las Vegas’ Hard Rock Hotel & Casino will close its doors Feb. 3, capping 25 years of rockin’ memories and making way for the newest Virgin Hotel. Of course, it won’t end without a party.

Full Story/Details/Info/Video

Members: Read Ted’s Take on this story, and add your own comment or question for us



Members Mania

Got a tip:

Tripit is a great app! It keeps track of all your reservations in one spot. Just forward your confirmation emails to it and it and it automatically enters all your flight, hotel and rental car info. You can add other info like events or meetings, too. I use the free app, but there is also a paid version that tracks flight info, etc, too.

Maralee Johnson

 


 

We have recently left Vegas and came away with money in our pockets. We had a casino host who comped many meals and our room over NYE.

What is the etiquette for tipping a casino host? We didn’t and are now questioning our actions. We always tip dealers and wait staff. Thank you in advance for the input.

Jacqueline Ellingson

 

Ted Responds:

Nothing cash or cash-like to be safe. A host is frowned upon for accepting such.

Wine, liquor, cigars, a NICE tie, sending a nice gift basket of some kind once you get home — perhaps something that is native to where you live — would make a nice gift. Things along those lines. Obviously, bonus points if you know your host well enough to know some of their interests, likes, hobbies, and similar. This way, you can make the gift fitting.

Keep in mind that what they can (or can’t) do for you has gotten tighter and tighter. The computer allows them only so much. However, with whatever leeway they have, whether it be giving you the benefit of the doubt, going to bat for you with a superior regarding comping you an upgrade next time (above what your play normally gets you) and such IS within their abilities.

This is Vegas. Quid Pro Quo is OK! You remember them, and they will remember you!

 


 

We’re trying to decide between Cosmopolitan, Wynn, Aria or Encore. Too many choices! Going with a group of girls around age 35.

Ashleigh Erickson

 

Ted Responds:

All are fantastic, high-end choices. You simply can’t go wrong.

With Wynn and Encore, since they are part of the same complex (granted with a few differences), your bigger consideration will be your budget and what kind of room you want.

Aria rooms have some great “smart” features that will wow you just a bit. However, some find the “hike” to The Strip a bit off-putting. Granted, you can make that hike through the Crystals Shopping mall so you have some visual interest along the way.

However, for what you are describing, Cosmo IS the choice. It is geared for visitors your age. You can get a room with a balcony, and I mean a full balcony that a number of people can comfortably enjoy.

If you all get along pretty well, I’d strongly suggest pooling your money and getting a suite which will accommodate your group. Because Cosmo sits right on The Strip, the majority of rooms and suites have outstanding views.

Also, key is that it sits in the very heart of The Strip. Aria is quite set back, and Wynn — while certainly not in the middle of nothing, currently anchors the very northers (comfortably) walk-able part of The Strip.

You’ll be out of your room, down the elevators, out the casino door, and standing on The Strip (in front of Bellagio Fountains, no less) in no time flat as compared to the other choices.


We have answers to your Vegas questions!

But, you have to ask the questions.

Email us at [email protected], and let us know, what YOU want to know!



Las Vegas Tours And Attractions

Bellagio Las Vegas Welcomes Japanese Calligraphist Sisyu

 

Art aficionados and guests can get an up close peek into the creative process of calligraphist Sisyu at the Bellagio resort in Las Vegas.

Full Story/Details/Info/Video

Members: Read Ted’s Take on this story, and add your own comment or question for us



Las Vegas Gambling

Very Lucky Guest’ Wins $180K Jackpot At Boulder Station

 

Someone described as a “very lucky guest” won a $180K jackpot recently at Boulder Station. Boulder Station says it happened over the weekend. The guest hit a sequential royal for $180, 013.

Full Story/Details/Info/Video



Las Vegas Sports

Resurrection In Las Vegas: Wynn Golf Club Is Back With An In-Your-Face Finisher

 

Sin City is as subtle as a gold-sequin sport coat. Along the Las Vegas Strip on any given night, water cannons blast skyward to omnipresent musical accompaniment. Crowds of tourists gawk at skimpily dressed street performers.

Full Story/Details/Info/Video

Members: Read Ted’s Take on this story, and add your own comment or question for us


Other Las Vegas News


What We’re Watching!
Vegas Videos You’ll Enjoy

Click to watch video

The Oldest Casino in Las Vegas | Golden Gate Hotel and Casino

(Producers Notes) Today we explore the Golden Gate Hotel and Casino in Downtown Las Vegas. The oldest hotel and casino in Las Vegas. Fremont is a good place to visit if you are looking for Vintage Vegas but the history is slowly disappearing.

 

Click to watch video
In-N-Out Burger Las Vegas – Get This!

(Producers Notes) What’s the secret to the secret menu at In-N-Out Burger Las Vegas?

 

Click to watch video
Apache Hotel (Binions Las Vegas) – Room 269

(Producers Notes) Checking out the retro hotel rooms at Binions.


Premium Insider Advantage Benefits Menu:

Thank you so much for being a AccessVegas.com Premium Insiders Advantage member. We really appreciate the support and we’re here for you!

How To Access What:

    • Vegas Super Secret Specials Spreadsheet is available here:

      Spreadsheet Version and Web Page Version now available!

      Keep in mind that specials are always subject to change. That is why we list the phone number for each restaurant or bar. Please DO call ahead to confirm the offer continues to be valid. Players Card May Be Required For Some Specials. If you find an offer that has ended, alert us at [email protected] and we’ll give you 50% off your membership dues next year for the help if you are the first to report it!

 

  • Our “Your Guy In Vegas” Feature – Got a Vegas question? Instead of spending too much time looking up information you might not be certain about, fire it to us! We live here, we know Las Vegas, and we’ll give you a professional answer! (Some restrictions apply). Email [email protected] and put Paid Subscriber in the subject line. That is also where to send us trip reports, Vegas feedback (good and bad) and more.
  • Members Mania! – We share the answers to great Vegas questions with all of our Premium Members, helping everyone who pitches in with a premium membership. Plus great visitor feedback that you can learn from. This will be right here in almost every issue.
  • The True Inside ScoopAccessVegas.com CEO Ted Newkirk has been writing “Newkirk’s Notes” for upwards of two decades, giving members the true inside guide to everything that is going on in Las Vegas. Valuable information from someone in the know to save you time and money!  This will be right here in almost every issue.

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We love to hear from you!
Here’s how to participate:

Drop us an email at [email protected] – We read them all!

 

Link To Us! – Have a home page, web page, or blog? Link to us, and give yourself and your friends a quick link to find us from your site. Simply link to http://www.accessvegas.com and name the link Access Vegas!

 

For comments or questions regarding our content or this newsletter write us at [email protected].

 

February 11, 2020 ISSN: 1529-2770 About Us   Privacy Policy
Physical Address: 3565 Las Vegas Blvd. South #411, Las Vegas, NV 89109