Access Vegas Insider Vibe – January 14, 2008 InsideráVibe

Serving Las Vegas Visitors and Residents Since 1999

Welcome to the Insider Vibe! This is the official newsletter of AccessVegas.Com. We talk about the Las Vegas activities you really care about. Quick Info Menu:

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Newkirk’s Notes – comments on Las Vegas from AccessVegas.Com publisher Ted Newkirk:

Hello From Las Vegas! – Winter is finally over here in the beautiful Desert Southwest. I just got back from a walk in the 65 degree (F) sun, wearing shorts and a short-sleeved shirt. If winter is in full swing where you are, come on out and visit. Our friends at Las Vegas Hotel Deals have unbelievably low room rates ranging from basic rooms at $25-30 a night to the very top hotels in Las Vegas (and in the world, for that matter) for under $200 a night. And… last I checked, airfare is down a bit.

I’m not surprised. The past few years, many of you have written and said “Las Vegas no longer caters to the middle class” and has gotten too expensive. Time and time again in this newsletter, I simply said: Give it time. All of these posh new hotel rooms are going to have to be filled and the rates will be adjusted to fill them. I said how Las Vegas will again be an incredible bargain with the ability to rent rooms for a fraction of what a similar hotel room would go for in another city. (Check out what $100 a night will get you in New York or San Francisco, then what it will buy you in Las Vegas right now).

Yes, times are tight right now. If you are in a very unfortunate job or financial situation and a trip just isn’t in the cards, by all means stay subscribed and we’ll bring a little bit of Las Vegas to you each week until you can come back and see us again. But if you even have a few bucks to spend, come on out and enjoy a few days. Nothing takes your mind off of things like a visit to Las Vegas.

Largest Hotel In the World Coming To Las Vegas! – Oh please… how many times have I typed (and mocked) this headline. And yet another group is claiming that they are going to do just this:

A 6,745 room, four tower hotel. And… not even on The Strip. Instead next to the Hard Rock Hotel (on the site of George Clooney’s project that never got off the ground… and that was in good economic times). Bottom Line: If this thing actually goes somewhere, I wish the developers well and (as always) we’ll keep you up-to-date on the progress.

las vegas wetlands park
Photo Courtesy Access Clark County (government)

Las Vegas Wetlands Park – Wetlands in Las Vegas? You bet! Now… if you are in town for a few days to see how much drinking and gambling you can accomplish, this might not be for you. However… if a local or a tourist who enjoys renting a car and seeing things like Red Rock Canyon, you may find the Las Vegas Wetlands a fun adventure for a couple of hours.

The Las Vegas Wash (a wash is what we call a creek here in the desert) has been cleaned up over the past few years, with weirs built to slow down the water flow and create lush, green areas teeming with wildlife. Finding the wetlands is simple: Head east on Tropicana (from The Strip) for exactly 7.9 miles and make a left on Wetlands Park Lane. For more info, read Wetlands Park expands with opening of bridge

Lion King Las Vegas To Play Full Show – Many Broadway style shows have (and continue to) enjoy great runs here, but are often a condensed version of the Broadway hit. The standard notion: With so much to do and see, people don’t want to sit through a really long show. (And the notion that the hotels want you back in the casino spending money more quickly).

The Lion King is going to buck the trend and perform the nearly 2 1/2 hour show, with a standard 15 minute intermission. It will be interesting to see how it works out (and how many people get on a hot gambling streak during intermission and simply don’t make it back into the theatre). Ticket sales are expected to be brisk as this show looks to be a major draw. You may wish to reserve now: Click for Lion King Las Vegas Tickets

Is The Club Scene Over? – We’ve received very mixed reader email on the club scene boom here. Some of you enjoy them, others feel priced out by those willing to spend thousands of dollars in just one night in a club. Readers of all ages have bemoaned the loss of many of the hotel lounges, and I’m among you. Hotels wonder why their gaming revenue is dropping. Could one reason be that the excitement of live music playing on (or just off of) the casino floor made the gambling more fun? DUH!

Local columnist Norm Clarke had an interesting article Celebs cut back on making it rain that is worth a read. Truth be told, Las Vegas being a little less of a celeb hot spot may be a good thing. The focus is coming back to our core business of the past many decades: Give you a reasonably priced room, good food, favorable gaming odds and some of the best shows and entertainment you’ll find on the planet, and you’ll keep coming back for more. Which leads me to these comments…

Loose slots

The Eggheads Just Don’t Get It – Nevada gaming revenue is in a free-fall (down around 8% in 2008). You aren’t gambling as much when you visit, and we don’t blame you. We’ve noted how recent years have brought tighter slots and unfavorable table game rules. Casino management blames it on the economy. I blame some of it on the guys running the casinos:

Even after the mob pretty much left town, Las Vegas was run by guys with resort, gaming, and tourism backgrounds. Not that many years ago, signs likeá99% Payback On Slots, Better Odds On Craps/Blackjack and others regarding easy comps were common up and down The Strip.

Now, things are run by a bunch of guys with educations from prestigious eastern universities whose backgrounds are Wall Street, not Las Vegas Boulevard. And it shows (just look at how Wall Street and Banking have been doing). They don’t seem to understand that you’ll come and (probably) lose a pile of cash. And still enjoy it and tell others what a great time you had doing so.

But… only if you are getting some value out of it. Only if the gambling lets you have a few win streaks. Only if you can go home and tell your friends about the incredible meal deal you had. Only if we offer you some real fun, a chance to win, and value in hotel and meal prices.

The word is starting to resonate. Read (from our local paper) Strip’s Salvation Lies In Offering Value

We’re Number Eight? – After being tops 19 out of the past 21 years, Nevada has finally given up the longstanding “fastest growing state” mantle. Neighboring states Utah and Arizona took the top two honors with Nevada falling to the #8 spot.

When people inquire about moving here, I suggest they check out Salt Lake City, Phoenix (and Albuquerque) as well. I love Las Vegas and it is an amazing place to visit, but unless your fortunate enough to be one of the (maybe) 100 people here with a job like mine, living here isn’t all about shows and buffets. It is about the daily grind just like you’d find anywhere else (even for people like me).

Why Salt Lake City, Phoenix or Albuquerque? All are short non-stop flights to your favorite vacation destination (Las Vegas, of course). Salk Lake offers traditional winters (snow and skiing), Phoenix offers a major city atmosphere with big league sports, and Albuquerque is a mid-sized city which has the beautiful desert mountain scenery of Las Vegas without our 110 degree summers.

Finally, let me leave you with an amazing Las Vegas photo blog find I found. A couple who recently married here posted photos ranging from their plane over the desert and on approach to some very cool shots all over The Strip and Downtown Fremont Street. Enjoy LAS VEGAS marriage pics. Picture Heavy!

Enjoy This Issue!

Ted Newkirk
CEO/Managing Editor

Associate Editor: Amy Rayner-Cooley
News Researcher/Editor: Mark Jacobs

Las Vegas Is On Sale!
Get Great Rates At All Hotels:

Boulder Stn from $25, Fiesta H from $29, Green Valley from $125, Red Rock from $125, Santa Fe Stn from $39, Sunset Stn from $40, Texas Stn from $29, More Savings At All Vegas Hotels!

Motley Crue To Pass The Joint Into A New Era At The Hard Rock – As the saying goes, “as one door closes, another one opens.” The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas will close its legendary concert venue, The Joint, on February 7, 2009 to make way for a brand new expanded and state-of-the-art Joint. As part of their Saints of Los Angeles 2009 Tour, M÷tley Cr³e will help close The Joint doors in true rock ‘n’ roll fashion with two closing weekend performances scheduled for February 6 and 7. (Tickets). Click to Read The Full Story …

RA Sushi Bar Restaurant Celebrates Four Years In Las Vegas – RA Sushi Bar Restaurant will celebrate four years in Las Vegas with a prom-themed anniversary party on Saturday, January 24. The event begins on Saturday, January 24 at 9 p.m. and features live entertainment from Last Pop Nation, Justin Carder and RA’s own DJ G-Raw. Ladies are encouraged to don their most gaudy dresses and men in the craziest tuxes they can find to celebrate the prom-themed event. Click to Read The Full Story …

Celebrate Chinese New Year 2009 AT Bellagio’s Conservatory & Botanical Gardens – Beginning January 14, Bellagio’s Conservatory & Botanical Gardens will celebrate the 2009 Chinese New Year, the Year of the Ox, with a unique display filled with hidden meaning. The Conservatory’s design will be guided by the ancient practice of Feng Shui û the art of using surroundings to attract harmony, balance and positive life energy. The dramatic centerpiece of this exhibit will be a botanical 15-foot-long ox. Click to Read The Full Story …

Members Mania – We Love Our Readers!

Hello. Love your newsletter!

A group of us just visited Vegas Dec. 7-11, 2008 (we have visited 2 or 3 times a year since 2003). Had a wonderful time as always. In these past years of visiting Vegas right up to our recent trip last week, we have always wondered why a 24/7 city closes most, if not all, of its restaurants at 10 or 11 pm. The fine dining establishments i can understand… but I have always wondered why more casual to fast food places donÆt stay open 24 hours.

Each hotel has ONE restaurant that stays open all nite and the wait is usually unbelievably long, not to mention how long it takes to get waited on and served. It seems a Subway shop or a 24-hour deli would be appropriate for those who want to party until all hours and THEN grab a quick bite to take back to their room.

I stayed at MGM again this trip (which I love, by the way) and they have a Deli that stays open until like 1 am and the line at 12:30 goes on forever. So I canÆt believe that a 24-hour fast food place wouldnÆt make money in the middle of the nite. I was just curious if anyone had any insight as to why all the food courts close at 11’ish and why more casual places donÆt stay open all nite.


Sharla from Columbus OH

Ted Responds:

I’m probably not making any friends in casino management in this issue, and we’ll be returning to our more Las Vegas news in future issues. However, these issues do need to be addressed.

The decision makers at hotel casinos are apt to be tucked into bed and asleep at midnight. They don’t know what is going on in situations like this. They forget that you are partying, boozing and having fun well into the late night and wee hours. And… what does just about everyone want to do after a long night of imbibing? EAT. (Visit any Waffle House or similar restaurant at 3 AM on a weekend. This isn’t just a Las Vegas phenomenon).

The best we can do is highlight the concerns of our readers and let them filter to the decision makers who simply have no clue what is really happening during those late night “Prime Time In Las Vegas” hours.

My wife and I have been coming to Vegas every year since the late 70’s and have seen to many changes. I enjoy playing blackjack, but this year I played maybe twice. The 6-5 payoff on a blackjack in most every casino has taken away the enjoyment of the game. Let’s get the bean counters out of Vegas.

Love your newsletter.

Bill from Orlando

Ted Responds:

For those unfamiliar with what Bill is talking about, the original rules for blackjack (and the rules in Las Vegas for decades) was that you get 3 chips for every 2 chips you bet when you are dealt a blackjack. 15 chips when you bet 10. Now, most Las Vegas casinos only pay you 6 chips for every 5 bet or simply 12 (instead of 15) for every 10 bet.

The El Cortez downtown is still dealing with the original rules and if you really hunt, you may be able to find some others. Bottom Line: If you play a blackjack game where they are only paying you 6 to 5 on a blackjack, you are getting ripped off. Keep walking. How much of a difference does it make? You get dealt blackjack more often than you realize. This can add up to a substantial amount of money per hour that should be in your pocket, but isn’t.

We have been subscribing to your newsletter for several years now and really enjoy it!

We’ve been coming to Vegas for four years for the first weekend of the PBR finals. Your newsletter has been extremely helpful.

We’ve stayed at the Excalibur the last couple of years. The first year the rooms were OK, but this year we stayed in one of the remodeled rooms and were very impressed with it. We got to look out over the pools and the improvements in the rooms were really nice.

This is the first year the finals have been at the Thomas & Mack Center instead of the Mandalay Bay Events Center. We were a little worried about transportation, but were pleasantly surprised by the taxi service we got all three nights. Our taxi cab drivers were very pleasant and we felt like they did a great job getting us there and back.

We are auto enthusiasts and really enjoyed the Auto Collection at the Imperial Palace.

Thank you for your newsletter and keep up the great work!!

Debbie R.

We love to hear from you, and value your feedback! Here’s how to participate:

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More Las Vegas News – Concerts – Events

Coming Hot Holidays – The following dates are huge times to be in Las Vegas, and rooms are in high demand. Booking in advance is the best way to save. Visit our friends at I4Vegas Discount Las Vegas Reservations and spend one of the following hot dates having fun in Las Vegas:

  • Martin Luther King, Jr., Day, U.S (Observed) January 19-21 (3 day weekend)
  • Chinese/Lunar New Year January 26
  • Lincoln’s Birthday, U.S February 12
  • Valentine’s Day February 14
  • President’s Day, U.S (Observed) February 14-16 (3 day weekend)
  • Washington’s Birthday, U.S February 22
  • St. Patrick’s Day March 17
  • Easter Sunday April 12
  • Cinco de Mayo May 5
  • Mother’s Day May 10
  • Father’s Day June 21
  • Canada Day, Canada July 1
  • Independence Day July 4
  • Civic Holiday, Canada August 1-3 (3 day weekend)
  • Labor Day, U.S September 5-7 (3 day weekend)
  • Labour Day, Canada September 5-7 (3 day weekend)
  • Jewish New Year September 19
  • Halloween October 31
  • Veteran’s Day November 11
  • Thanksgiving Day, U.S November 26-29 (4 day weekend)
  • Hanukkah Dec. 2 – Dec. 9
  • Christmas December 25
  • New Year’s Eve-Day December 31 – January 2 (3 day weekend)

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All contents copyright 2008 Ted Newkirk. All Rights Reserved.
Hotel Rates Published Accurate At Time Of Publication

January 14, 2009 ISSN: 1529-2770 About Us Privacy Policy

Access Vegas Insider Vibe – October 9, 2002

Welcome to Access Vegas News and Reviews! This is the official newsletter of AccessVegas.Com. We talk about the Las Vegas attractions, dining, and shows that YOU really care about.

If you receive this by mistake, please note the simple unsubscribe instructions at the bottom. Feel free to forward this newsletter to others. To subscribe, simply send a blank email to

Newkirk’s Notes – comments on Las Vegas from AccessVegas.Com publisher Ted Newkirk:Hello from Las Vegas! This is normally an “off” week for the newsletter, but so much great reader feedback and questions came in the past week that we are working overtime. No rest in Las Vegas!


If you missed last weeks issue, click here to read it in the archives. If you are new to the list, hang tight. Your first regular issue will arrive next week.

We Were Featured: Las Vegas Review-Journal “Online Guy” columnist Al Gibes featured our New Year’s Eve Las Vegas site in his recent article. Check out the article!

Reader Feedback

VegasJules wrote:

I love the new format! I’ve enjoyed reading your newsletter for a while now, and I always love getting the scoop on my favorite city. Even though I don’t have a trip in the planning (at the moment, but I’m always hoping!), I can always count on you for some great info! Thanks!

Shanny Aitken wrote:

The new look your newsletter is sporting is great! Thanks for all the helpful information. Each trip to Las Vegas, we arrive better informed than the trip before!

I want to thank everyone for the nice words and great response to our spruced up format. Same great info, same “tell it like it is” philosophy, but with a little more visual spice to bring Las Vegas to you!

Message Board Member “nn23” wrote:

I don’t think kids belong in Las Vegas. Its an adult city, Alcohol, parties, gambling, adult entertainment… I would never bring kids to Las Vegas… I wish other people wouldn’t either. Take your kids to Disney, not Las Vegas… Let us adults have fun, an enjoy ourselves.

Readers, what do you think? Do you take your kids to Las Vegas or do you see it as an adult destination? Tell us your thoughts and experiences in our Kids In Las Vegas forum.

Jim O’Hara from Chicago wrote:

I have to agree with the poll, on the locals casinos, in the recent newsletter. About two months ago we visited the Gold Coast. How or why we went there I don’t know but we were pleasantly surprised. I had been in the Gold Coast a number of years ago ( a whole story in itself) and thought it to be rather shabby. We ate at the buffet, played for a number of hours and really enjoyed ourselves. It certainly didn’t hurt that I hit a royal.

If anyone missed it, go check out the poll results.

Richard and Barbara Paro wrote:

I just want to start off saying I love, love, love your news letter. I’ve only been getting it for a couple of months. I have two questions. One is on comped rooms. We are coming to Vegas in Nov. and are staying at the (name of casino withheld). We have been there before 2 times.

We get our room comped for three nights. We spend anywhere from a thousand to fifteen hundred a day. That’s our money not what we win in between. We would like to go to other places to see some of the things you talk about, and see if we could win at other casinos but feel obligated to spend our time and money where we get comped. How can we do both, and how much do we have to spend to still get comped?

Comps are the big question and source of confusion here in Las Vegas. I withheld the name of the casino involved here not because of any problems, but because this is a general issue.

First of all, casinos aren’t comping you because they are “nice guys.” They are comping you because they realize you will lose more than your comps cost them over time. Think about this: In return for giving you a room that probably would have gone empty and costs them a few bucks a day to maintain, you are giving them heavy play and not even leaving the place. That is no way to enjoy Las Vegas!

You have a number of options. One is to split your play on your next visit between this casino and another two or three that you are interested in. The odds are that the first casino won’t cut your free nights right away. If you were to visit time and time again and not gamble much there, then they would probably pull back the comp offers.

Play at other places and see if you win, and if they offer you anything. Or come to town and take $50-100 of that daily gambling budget and buy a room so you don’t feel obligated and you can go test the waters elsewhere.

Another new option that many take advantage of is the ability to see right away online what casinos are giving away what comps for what level of play. Playsis lets you enter the amount of your bet, how long you play, and they will offer you a comp level at various hotels right up front. No phone calls, no negotiating, no hoping that “Vinnie” at the casino will smile down upon you. So you might want to check out Playsis.

Message Board Member “mytrn41” wrote:

Glad to here you are not tiring of Vegas anytime soon. Hope to retire there some day. Not a gambler, but love the weather, mountains and the mystery of the dessert.

Look forward to your newsletters, keep up the informative mailings. Visit often, but for different reasons. Enjoy driving up to Mt Charleston, or to Red Rock Canyon. Even a trip to a local Wal-Mart with the beautiful Mountain setting behind, something you cannot experience in our town of Hebron, Illinois.

I could not agree with you more. I too like to see an area when I travel, and not just the resort areas. There is so much more to do here than gambling! Mt. Charleston and Red Rock are stunning and we have some great tours where you can see them in a few hours.

For those thinking of moving here, we have two new pages of info:

Message Board Member “fla5h2001” wrote:

My my favorite last fine dining experience was on VOODOO Cafe on top of the RIO! The service was superb and the food, OH my GOD is was truly to die for!

Check out more info on the Voodoo Cafe and tell us about your best (or worst) Las Vegas dining experiences in the dining forums at our Message Boards.

Live From Las Vegas,

Ted Newkirk

Senior Content Editor

New to the list? Click Here for back issues and subscription info.Don’t hesitate to forward this newsletter to friends and associates, or better yet recommend it to friends with a chance to win $10,000! Click Here To Win

All contents copyright 2002 Ted Newkirk. All Rights Reserved.
October 9, 2002 ISSN: 1529-2770


Access Vegas Insider Vibe – May 23, 2001

WELCOME to Access Vegas News and Reviews, now with subscribers in over 50 countries around the world! This is the official newsletter of We talk about the Las Vegas attractions, dining, and shows that YOU really care about.

This weekly newsletter is free and only sent to those who request it. If you receive this by mistake or wish off our list, simple unsubscribe instructions at the bottom. Feel free to forward this to friends and associates in its entirely. To subscribe, simply send a blank email to (click)

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THIS WEEK’S CITY ON SALE: Las Vegas: Stratosphere from $59.95, Aladdin from $109.95, Hilton Grand Vacations from $69.95, The Hilton from $59.95, and The Orleans $59.95 Click to

HOTEL MESSAGE BOARDS – Help others and share your Las Vegas hotel opinions!

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Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam, Scenic Southwest Tours – by plane, bus, or even helicopter! You’ve seen the glossy ads in the tourist brochures. You’ve thought about it. You come all the way to Las Vegas — why not see one of the some of the most famous landmarks in the world! Don’t by tricked by web sites & magazines that offer discount tours. Taxes, park fees, permits can almost double the price. Our prices are inclusive – no hidden charges! Best Las Vegas Tours

THIS ISSUE: The Truth About Slot Cards, Casino Freebies are not Usually Free

LAS VEGAS NEWS – of interest to tourists:

WORLD SERIES OF POKER – Carlos Mortensen knows when to hold ’em. The 29-year-old who moved to the United States from Spain a few years ago to play poker professionally won the World Series of Poker tournament Friday night at Binion’s Horseshoe — and a $1.5 million jackpot. Full story at and

WORLD SWIMSUIT – Model Search Finals will have over 60 women compete in what they bill as the “Ultimate Swimsuit Competition.” US and Canadian Finals are Friday, June 1 at 6:00 PM and the World Model Search Finals are Saturday, June 2 at 8: 00 PM. Tickets at (702) 731-7865. Discount Caesars rooms at (Caesars link).

SET TO RETIRE IN VEGAS – Nevada might have to wait a few years before it lives up to its growing reputation as a retirement mecca. Fewer than 10 percent of the state’s booming population are 65 or older, according to 2000 census figures released Friday. However, those aged 45 to 59 nearly doubled their ranks. “The pre-retirees are people moving here for their last job,” said Jeff Hardcastle, state demographer. Full story at

FRENCH FRY FUEL – Biodiesel fuel made from recycled cooking oils at casino hotels and restaurants went on sale in Nevada Tuesday, the first public access fueling station in the nation to offer the biodegradable fuel that reduces emissions. Full story at

AFTERNOON TEA – The Four Seasons (located at the south end of Mandalay Bay — same building) offers English style afternoon tea from 2 – 5 PM daily. At the Verandah, patrons choose from 11 teas that come with a three-tiered serving tray filled with scones, finger sandwiches and pastries. Full story at

$100 REBATE SPECTACULAR! Our partners at Hotel Reservations Network are giving you up to $100 back on any stay in Las Vegas or any major city they reserve. (Full details and list of all eligible cities at ). Claiming your cash is simple:

1. Print out:
2. Book a room online at
3. Send in for your rebate when you get home.

It doesn’t get any easier than that, and you get their low price guarantee
to boot!


EFX – I took quite a bit of heat for my unkind review of EFX starring Rick Springfield, but word is that his run will end when his one-year contract is up. Story at and you can read the archived review at

SHOW REVIEWS – Recent reviews appearing in the media:

* Fab Four (Las Vegas Hilton) –
* Paul Anka –
* Splash (Riviera) –


* SHOW TICKETS – See which shows are playing during your stay and book reservations EVEN if the tickets aren’t on sale yet. Let ShowVegas takes care of all your needs directly online! Search by dates at
* GOLF RESERVATIONS – BookVegas let’s you grab that tee time GUARANTEED before you get to town! Click to
* DINING RESERVATIONS – For a small service fee, you can now guarantee reservations for that “special night out” during your visit at


* SHOWS AND HEADLINERS – listings available at
* CONCERT – listings available at

RESTAURANT REVIEWS – Recent reviews appearing in the media:

* Olio (MGM) –

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

LAS VEGAS WEATHER – This 5 day forecast is courtesy of Weather.Com:

Thursday – 103 ░F / 80 ░F Partly Cloudy
Friday – 100 ░F / 75 ░F Partly Cloudy
Saturday – 99 ░F / 74 ░F Partly Cloudy
Sunday – 96 ░F / 69 ░F Partly Cloudy
Monday – 90 ░F / 69 ░F Partly Cloudy

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

FEATURE STORIES: The Truth About Slot Cards, Casino Freebies are not Usually Free

The Truth About Slot Cards
by Ted Newkirk

Every few weeks, someone writes and asks why I never talk about comps (casino complimentary, i.e., free stuff you get for playing). The answer? For most players, it is simply not worth it. Except for the free drinks when you gamble or asking the pit boss for dinner is you’ve had a long run at the table (I mean 2 hours of heavy play or 4 hours of normal play), the average gambler bringing a few hundred bucks to town is not only going to get next to nothing, but they will be baited to play and lose far more than the comps are worth.

Most casinos track your play with a slot club card. You give them more vital info than you probably feel comfortable parting with, you use the card every time in every machine you play so they can track your every move, and you earn points good for food, gift shop items, and (if you play heavily) rooms.

If you are an average player, you may rack up enough points during your stay for half a buffet or a T-shirt. When you get home, they might send you a couple of buffet coupons or a discount room offer to get you back in on your next visit. (These “special rates” are often on par with the everyday discounts we offer on the very same rooms — our room supplier buys rooms from the hotel in bulk at deep discounts we pass on to you.)

So what’s the problem, you ask?!? The casinos don’t have slot clubs because they are nice people. Casino comps are but a small percentage of the money you are expected to lose “earning” those slot points. We all like to think that we beat the house and got something for free, so these cards actually encourage you to play more than you were planning to. After you’ve started to accumulate points, you end up putting another $20 or $100 in the machine to rack up those few more points needed for a free meal, totally forgetting the fact that the $20 will outright BUY the meal!

Don’t take my word for this or say “Well, that is other people but I manage my money flawlessly.” I recently had a drink with professional gambler Rob Singer, author of The Undeniable Truth About Video Poker. The book as well as his site are very fresh looks at many of the myths surrounding “beating the house,” especially related to video poker play.

Rob plays with a set financial strategy, and his #1 and only goal is to lock up a certain win on each of his monthly visits. And even HE told me that he’s stopped using slot club cards because of the temptation to deviate from his financial strategy and play just a little more to gain a benefit. If a pro can be tempted, are you going to tell me you can’t?

Don’t get me wrong: If your gambling budget in well into the thousands for each trip, get all the comps you can. In fact, skip the slot club card and ask to speak to a casino host about your gambling budget and what they might do for you.

But for the rest of us, be careful. You are coming here to have fun, and hitting the ATM for the third time in a day subconsciously savoring the free buffet the points are going to “earn” you isn’t fun. And trust me, that buffet comp or T-shirt doesn’t make you look like a high roller in their eyes. You are just another player who got a little extra play out of. Multiply that extra, unplanned play by all the slot club players, and they can well afford to give away a couple bucks worth of food.

Still don’t believe me? Or Rob Singer? Here is an interesting and informative article that came across the gaming wire a couple weeks ago:

++ ++ ++ ++ ++ ++ ++ ++ ++

Casino Freebies are not Usually Free
By Jeffrey Compton

How many times have you heard that “there is no such thing as a free lunch”? So many times that the cliche has lost its meaning. But if you patronize casinos, and receive mail filled with tempting “free offers,” and then act on that mail, i.e., stay in a free room, see a free show or have a free lunch, you will soon find out what free really means.

Here is an example from one of my readers: Dear Jeffrey: Ballys/Paris send us a letter offering three free nights and one for $69. After we arrived and played for several hours, we asked for a meal comp, and were told that there were no comp dollars available in our account until our play covered the cost of the rooms. I thought these rooms were free? WH, Springfield, Il

Before I go any further, let me assure one and all that this situation is not unique to Ballys/Paris, nor their owner Park Place Entertainment, nor happens only to travelers from Springfield. I get at least two “how come free isn’t free” letters a week, as do my fellow gaming writers Bob Dancer, Jean Scott and Anthony Curtis.

Here is how it works: As a player plays (assuming he is using his players club card), he earns both “published” and “discretionary” benefits. At most casinos in America, the published benefits are usually cash rebates (although many local Las Vegas and Midwest Riverboat casinos may also publish free food and room guidelines). Player comps, especially on the Las Vegas Strip, come from the discretionary account administered by the hosts.

Although policies vary (to the point where no two casinos have the same exact policy), many hotels do deduct from the player’s discretionary account any redeemed direct mail room/meal offers, and thus the player’s comp account could be considerably less than zero when they arrive. Some hotels (and hosts) handle this better than others, and find a more diplomatic way to explain it–¡ or tell the customer so little about discretionary comping that the player doesn’t realize what or how his account is charged.

Some casinos do not debit redeemed offers that were sent to fill up rooms during a traditionally slow seasons (early December), and there are still many older casinos that do not track redeemed direct mail offers back to the player account due to either corporate policy or an outdated computer system.

I will anticipate the next questions: “Casinos have been giving out comps both on the casino floor and through direct mail for years. Have they always tracked every freebie back to the customer?”

The answer is no, Bugsy and the boys did not spend two seconds thinking about player comps after they gave them out. Most decisions were done based on their best recollection of the player’s action (i.e. seat of the pants decision) and their daily mood. In the last few years, however, several developments have led casinos to keep track of the giveaways.

Casinos hold back a lot less money than they once did. Due to increased competition as well as increased player knowledge, player holds have dropped dramatically over the last twenty years. It was easy to be Santa Claus when you had a new sack of money coming in every day, but todayÆs casinos really have to work to make a buck.

Casinos are no longer one-man (or one-gang) operations. You can count the number of privately owned Nevada casinos on two hands, and even they have to report to their lenders. The rest have stockholders and investment bankers who are not thrilled about runaway “player reinvestment” expenses.

Players are more comp aggressive. My grandfather’s generation was brought up to never ask for a free meal, but most of us players have gotten over that stigma. Several recent books, most notably the Frugal Gambler by Jean Scott and Comp City by Max Rubin, have done an excellent job in converting once docile gamblers into aggressive comp consumers.

Computerization is everywhere. Whatever the reasons casinos had for making the comp process more accountable, it could not be done without computers, which get better and cheaper every year. It is my guess that within the next few years, they will know exactly how many free drinks I consume per hour of play ¡ and that is no joke.

So what should players do when they get a “free” offer in the mail? If they like to play at the casino, then by all means enjoy it, but realize that the offer was sent for a reason (hint: they want you to play the games) and if they do not get that result, you will not be getting any more freebies.

“Casino Freebies are not Usually Free Copyright” copyright May 11, 2001 Gaming Wire Used with permission

EDITOR’S NOTE: People had a lot to say about the “Kids in Vegas” letters printed a few weeks ago. While I can’t print every letter I receive, I always print a representative sample of all opinions expressed. Letters that contain good writing style (paragraphs, punctuation, no ALL CAPS, etc.) have a better chance of getting published. I’ll have comments and answers at the end. Don’t forget to vote in this week’s poll “Should people bring kids to Las Vegas?” at


John Krogh wrote:

> I found it amusing the two responses you published were both
> advocating keeping “kids” out of Las Vegas. Especially in light of
> the fact that Las Vegas has spent millions to promote itself as a
> “family vacation site.” Granted, I think that was a mistake, and I
> think Las Vegas has finally realized it was a mistake also. But
> nonetheless, with a family image being promoted by the city, how on
> earth could anyone be upset when families show up?
> Second, this is a city that is supported, in fact is built on tourism.
> When the strip fills up with people, why is anyone surprised at jay
> walking or people trying to beat the light? It comes with the
> territory. I don’t know how things are in Nevada, but in California
> and other states, a pedestrian caught in a crosswalk who’s light as
> changed against him/her, ALWAYS has the right of way.
> Finally, in a more serious vein, the intolerance expressed by both
> parties is disturbing. The Taxi cab driver who thinks a red/green
> light is the only rule, and the parent, who by pushing an infant is
> immune to the color of the light. The purpose of the “lights,” the
> crosswalk, the “rules” is to try and keep one another from being hurt,
> not to encourage it.

Glenn Burton wrote:

> All this noise directed against parents who take children to Las Vegas
> seems overblown to me. Don’t the casinos spend billions constructing
> attractions aimed at families with children? I doubt if die-hard
> gamblers go to Las Vegas for the Circus or the roller coasters.
> Isn’t Las Vegas being billed in the media as a “new” family
> destination? We’ve all read that there are many activities in Las
> Vegas suitable for children and that the prices are subsidized by
> gamblers … so why be surprised when people respond to the hype and
> come? Many of these parents who bring children to Las Vegas are
> probably on their first trip to Las Vegas and have no idea what the
> city is like. Some may not plan on gambling at all.
> I suggest that if you want to be angry at someone about bringing
> children to Las Vegas, direct your anger to the casino owners who are
> marketing their product to families and not against the families who
> respond.

Jack Hart (who originally wrote the letter about his experience with his young son in Las Vegas) wrote:

> Your readers comments to my letter, (subject — taxi drivers), printed
> in Access Vegas News attacked me for being in Las Vegas with my
> children. I would appreciate a rebuttal to comments made by R. Hirst
> and Mr. and Mrs. Cook of Calgary. First of all the issue had to do with
> vehicular intimidation by taxi drivers. Hirst called me a dimwit and
> an irresponsible parent. The Cook’s said they were “tired of being
> run over by strollers.” Their verbal attack and attitude displayed
> was ridiculous to say the least. These people are old people that
> should be the ones to stay away from Las Vegas. Keeping my children
> away with baby sitters is there answer to being run over by taxi
> drivers? What’s wrong with these people? I hope there are a better
> caliber of visitors to Las Vegas than these people.
> Please let R. Hirst know that he/she is not alone in his/her remarks
> about kids in Las Vegas (or any other gambling Mecca)!

J. Clayton wrote:

> We were in both Las Vegas and Laughlin some weeks ago. While in
> Laughlin, we stopped in at Burger King’s restaurant (in a corner of
> the Flamingo Hilton casino floor) at about 11:30PM to grab a Coke and
> some fries. As one would surmise, the place was the usual late night
> air full of smoke. … and even though I no longer smoke, I really
> don’t particularly care. However, a young couple with a literally
> ‘brand new’ baby (my ‘Better-Half’ guessed the age at less than a
> month) was sitting in the restaurant. Shortly after we arrived, they
> finished their meal and wandered (child in mother’s arms… carrier
> on father’s arm) off onto the casino floor to the slots.
> Question: What in the (expletive deleted!) are parents doing with a
> baby of that age up at that hour in a casino designed for adults?!
> You are absolutely right, R. Hirst, that people are trying to bend
> the adult playground of the World into a Disneyland for families! (As
> a matter of fact, I don’t even think kids can really get all of the
> fun out of the REAL Disneyland like adults can! …smiles!).

Kimberly Byers wrote:

> I have kids ranging in ages from 10 yrs to 19 yrs. We have been going to
> Las Vegas once a year for the past 5 years. Before you start slamming
> all parents and banning families maybe you should consider this. I have
> always taught my kids to respect the adult environment. They move
> quickly through casinos and only to go to the room or to eat. I realize
> this is not true with all kids but in this case it is. No one ever
> argues over who has to “watch” the kids. It is my pleasure. I never
> pretend its a family vacation. I make it one. Who are you to decide for
> me. I am glad to have these times with them and not leaving them at
> home. I’m glad your kids are grown and now you can enjoy yourselves. I
> am enjoying myself now. I dread the day when mine are gone! I’m not
> trying to be a goody goody. I drink a bit, I love to gamble and I also
> love being a mom. Too bad other people haven’t learned to incorporate
> families and kids into the real world. Don’t feel sorry for me. If it
> were up to me I would ban smokers and opinionated S.O.B. but then I
> would feel sorry for you.

Dean Di Mascio of Philadelphia, PA wrote”

> Dear Ted…. I very much enjoy reading your newsletter, a job well done!
> However, I’m becoming upset with the suggestion(s) by the many
> writers who say “if you have kids stay away from Las Vegas.” My wife,
> daughter (16) and I are big fans of Disney world, vacations and travel
> in general. We will be visiting Las Vegas in August and are looking
> forward to it. moreover, with all of the themed venues, attractions
> and natural settings and restaurants why should we not think of Las
> Vegas as a “family” detestation? I have an itinerary for our visit and
> it does not even include gaming. Although (smile) I’m sure my wife and
> I will lose some money in the casinos! But to those who wish to cling
> to the “old Las Vegas,” give it up I say. Like it or not Las Vegas
> has changed. Opened up to embrace families as well as
> “couples.”

Raymond Buchmueller wrote:

> Last year we took along our 6 and 8 year old to Vegas. We all had a
> great time. Just ask them where they want to go next holidays!
> Vegas. We just found that most Hotels buffet, the kids paid the same
> price was very unfair. How can a 45lb. kid pay the same price like a
> 250lb adult. Hats off to Luxor, and also Mirage. Maybe someone can
> let me know if other hotel have discount for kid on there buffet.

Rob McLeod of Calgary, Alberta wrote.

> We took our three boys (8, 10 and 12) to Vegas in May 1999 for 4
> nights. Contrary to most letters I have seen we had a good time with
> the kids. We stayed at Mandalay Bay and enjoyed the pool, lazy river,
> etc. We saw the Caesar’s Magical Empire which we all really enjoyed,
> spent a day at Circus Circus Adventuredome and a half day at
> Excalibur. On top of that we saw the volcano, pirate ship, the Coke
> museum, the Dive restaurant, the Luxor motion simulator ride, New York
> amusement area, etc., etc. The wife and I saw “Mystere” — we left the
> kids with the Aunt. I still got in 24 hours of gaming, we won’t talk
> about the net result.
> In my opinion, taking kids under 6 would pose problems. They need to
> be able to listen (“stay out of the casinos” and “don’t take the
> hooker magazines from the street vendors”) and be able to walk lots.
> But we had fun and would do it again.
> Great newsletter — keep it up! We will be there again, this time at
> the Luxor, no kids this time.

Las Vegas has not marketed itself as a family destination for years. This is a common misconception kept alive by bad comics and media reporters who have not done much homework. Only Circus Circus still “caters” to families to some extent although the company’s to most recent properties (Mandalay Bay and Luxor) are mostly adult-oriented.

In the early 90’s, casinos thought it would be a great idea to build theme parks and try to turn the town’s image from “sin city” to “family friendly.” Then they realized that they GOOFED because families take advantage of gaming-subsidized lower prices while children cut into the parent’s gambling time. Not cutting kids a break on buffets is just one subtle way many casinos are retracting the welcome mat from children.

Bellagio won’t allow children under 18 to enter the property unless they are guests. Hotels like the Riviera and Tropicana have used advertising slogans like “Where Adults Play” and “Rollers, Not Strollers” in the past couple of years. The MGM has taken out their theme park to build more convention space, suites and a Marriott hotel. If this seems extreme, note that children are not even allowed to enter casinos in Atlantic City.

I don’t have a particular agenda here. I sell rooms, not blackjack. If anything, a family makes me more commission, because they need two rooms or pay the extra that most hotels charge for more than two to a room. However, I’ve seen far too many little kids being pushed around late at night or in the hot sun, and these parents don’t look like they are having much fun. If you have young kids, you might consider leaving them with Grandma and spend a wonderful, relaxing, romantic time with your wife here in Las Vegas.

At the very least, consider not bring children until they are old enough to enjoy the experience and you are prepared to forgo the party / romance atmosphere that Las Vegas is now selling unless the children are in their teens and old enough to strike out on their own much of the time.

Don’t forget to vote in this week’s poll “Should people bring kids to Las Vegas?” at

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Your input is welcome. Write us a “letter to the editor” at (click) While space doesn’t permit publishing every letter, we do certainly read them all and they help shape our content. Please include your name if you wish to have it published (stating your city is optional). Also, guest article submissions are welcome with full credit to you, your website, etc., if accepted.

ONLINE POLL – “Should people bring their kids to Las Vegas?” Let’s hear your opinion at — results will be published in two weeks!

Results from last poll: “What is your favorite view of Las Vegas?”

Stratosphere Tower 47%
Rio Voodoo Cafe / Lounge 24%
Paris Eiffel Tower 15%
Binion’s Ranch Steakhouse 7%
Polo Towers Lounge 5%


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All contents copyright 2001 Ted Newkirk. All Rights Reserved.
May 23, 2001 ISSN: 1529-2770