Michigan’s Islands Resort & Casino Approves $30 Million Renovation

Island-CasinoOn Thursday, the Hannahville Indian Community Tribal Council granted approval to pave the way for the Island Resort & Casino in Michigan to begin a sizable renovation. The property will spend $30 million to expand the resort property by adding 11 stories to the Palm Tower. The top floor of the property will feature a brand-new restaurant as well as an expansive meeting space.

The hotel will also get a 140-room expansion on top of the 300 rooms that already exist. Aa water park and a swimming pool will also be built adjacent to the hotel. The casino and hotel property has been in need of expansion for quite some time given how many people visit the resort on a yearly basis.

More Space in High Demand

Tony Mancilla, the general manager of Island Resort & Casino, told Marquette local TV stadion WLUC:

“We have a high demand. We sold out 95 percent of our rooms every day of the summer, and on the weekends, we have waiting lists anywhere up to 200 people, so we have a high demand for the rooms.”

The property attracts casino gamblers, convention attendees as well as golfers.

Quintus 3D, an architectural planning firm from Wisconsin, is set to provide designs and engineering proposals in the coming weeks. Quintus 3D has previously designed the property’s Drift Spa, retail space and hotel lobby. The company is known to work with several Indian tribes all over the United States.

Michigan-based Gundlach Champion will oversee construction at the property. Gundlach Champion is also familiar with the property after having built the Island hotel’s Sun Tower as well as the casino expansion back in 1998. The designing, engineering and construction of the expansion is expected to begin in the next few months. Construction is slated to get underway in June, and the new features are expected to open at some point in 2021.

The casino’s current gaming floor includes a casino occupying nearly 409,000 square feet of space with over 1,200 games. There are countless slot machines as well as a poker room, bingo, blackjack, craps and roulette. The property is also home to an entertainment venue featuring over 1,300 seats.

Sports Betting On the Way in Michigan?

The new expansion is not expected to account for the possibility of the legalization of sports betting. However, the FireKeepers Casino in nearby Battle Creek will soon feature sports betting. The Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi, which runs the casino, has already partnered with Scientific Games Corporation in order to provide sportsbook services.

In December, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer officially signed the Lawful Sports Betting Act. The new legislation grants the Michigan Gaming Control Board the ability to hand out sports betting licenses to the state’s Indian tribal casinos. 3 commercial casinos located in the Detroit metro area will also be able to provide sports betting services.

At the time the bill was signed into law, Michigan became the 20th state in the US to pass a law legalizing sports betting. Those licenses will cost $100,000, and they can be renewed on a yearly basis for $50,000. Tribal sportsbooks will be taxed by the state at a rate of 8.4 percent, while the commercial casinos in Detroit will be taxed 11.75 percent. Detroit has a mandatory 3.25 percent add-on tax that applies to any and all forms of gambling.

The legalization of sports betting is expected to generate about $19 million in revenue for Michigan, according to estimates.

Louisiana Gaming Control Board Approves Proposed Caesars-Eldorado Merger

Eldorado-CasinoOn Friday, the Louisiana Gaming Control Board officially approved the proposed merger between Caesars Entertainment Corp. and Eldorado Resorts. While the board gave the $17.3 billion deal the thumbs-up, the regulator also criticized Eldorado for lacking in its efforts to upgrade its Baton Rouge casino.

Members of Eldorado’s brass made an appearance in front of the Louisiana Gaming Control Board on Thursday with hopes of helping the merger’s chances of being approved. Getting approval in all states in which Eldorado and Caesars operate is a necessary step for both to go forward with the proposed deal. The lucrative pact was officially announced in June of 2019, and industry experts believe the merger will close sometime in the middle of this year.

Louisiana Board Grills Eldorado Executives

Ronnie Jones, the Chairman of the Louisiana Gaming Control Board, asked Eldorado CEO Tom Reeg whether he and his team “were up to the task to make sure that you spread attention to all of the properties in all states in which you operate.” Jones cited the fact that Eldorado’s Belle of Baton Rouge Casino and Hotel has struggled to meet its financial goals over the past few years and that the lack of renovations is to blame.

Jones also made a note of the fact that Reeg and the rest of Eldorado’s representatives in attendance for Thursday’s meeting did not even stay at the Belle property. Instead, they stayed at L’Auberge Casino Hotel, which is owned by competitor Gaming and Leisure Properties.

Eldorado has invested only $1.1 million since acquiring the Belle, with most of the money going toward refurbishing and upgrading slot machines and gambling equipment. However, Reeg and Eldorado formally pledged to invest quite a bit in the riverboat casino property in the years ahead.

Eldorado Pledges Millions to Louisiana Properties

Reeg said that he and his group “understand that asset in its current state is not acceptable to the state and is not acceptable to us either.” He added that the “situation will be different” the next time they appear before the board. Eldorado subsequently pledged to spend over $500 million in Louisiana over the next 4 years, with $325 million of that money going toward overhauling Harrah’s New Orleans. Harrah’s is operated by Caesars.

Another $110 million will be put toward moving the Isle of Capri Casino Lake Charles onto land. The same will be done to the Belle of Baton Rouge. That process will involve moving the riverboat into a nearby atrium that had previously housed a shopping mall.

More Regulatory Challenges Ahead

Shareholders for Eldorado and Caesars both approved the proposed merger in November of 2019. Louisiana was the second regulator to officially vote on the merger after Missouri voted in December, and there are 12 more states that need to do the same before the deal will close.

Reeg said last summer that he would expect the deal to close some time in the first quarter of 2020, but that is looking unlikely at this stage. At the time, Reeg said,

“We’re still targeting a first half of 2020 closing date. If I were to place a bet today, I’d be betting on a first quarter close versus a second quarter close. But we’re going through the regulatory and antitrust in real time.”

Shareholders from Eldorado and Caesars were both over 99 percent in favor of the deal. Eldorado’s stockholders additionally approved a measure to reincorporate Eldorado from Nevada to Delaware following the merger’s closing later this year. Eldorado is set to pay over $7 billion in cash with 77 million shares of stock in order to acquire 51 percent of the new company. Eldorado will also take on Caesars’ existing debts.

Once all regulatory hurdles are cleared, the new company will own 60 casinos with 51,000 hotel rooms, 71,000 slot machines and 3,650 table games across the United States.

Hard Rock Will Continue to Invest in Atlantic City, Despite Town’s Bad Shape

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Atlantic CityThe CEO of Hard Rock Atlantic City, Jim Allen, voiced his concerns that Atlantic City is “going in the wrong direction,” citing that the city in the worse shape it’s ever been since buying the Atlantic City casino nearly three years ago.

The resort is doing their part to keep employee morale high. After an employee meeting last Thursday, the Hard Rock handed out bonuses to nearly $2,900 full-time employees, totaling $2 million. Allen said while the company is willing and ready to be a part of a solution to build a better Atlantic City, it’s not confident over recent developments.

The City Needs Patching Up

One continuing trend of concern is the lack of urgency when it comes to keeping the streets and overall environment surrounding the resort safe and patched up. Allen notes that the streetlights have been out for two months on several blocks along Pacific Avenue:

“When you’re in a resort environment where safety and security is so important, if the city can’t get something fixed as simple as the street lighting, then maybe a change is needed,” he said.

Allen had humble career beginnings in the casino industry, when he started out as a cook at Bally’s Atlantic City over 40 years ago. He made a mere $6.11 an hour. Understanding the importance of keeping the hospitality industry alive in the town, he felt urged to meet with Mayor Marty Small to discuss plans for progress.

Recruiting the Mayor’s Help

On Thursday, Mayor Small stated that he’s been working with the electric company and state agency responsible for planning in the city to restore functioning traffic lights. That’s the first step. When asked about the impact he’s made and plans to move forward, he said this:

“I’ve been in office 103 days and we’ve already made changes, with plenty to come. I’m moving my agenda forward, and will meet with anyone that has the city’s best interest (at heart), which Jim Allen does.”

What’s Next Moving Forward

Allen said the company hopes to double bonuses next year if the casino’s performance improves. Although the hotel misses its 2019 business targets by 10%, it didn’t stop the generous and forward-thinking CEO to give the bonuses.

The motive is to motivate full-time workers to provide great customer service. Many of the workers received $250, while managers received bonuses on scales tied to their salary.

It’s a smart business move. If the city can’t improve its infrastructure, it can at least improve its level of service to keep guests coming to the door. Jill Tyron, an administrative assistant for Hard Rock Atlantic City said this about the free bonus the company received:

“What’s not to love about free money? I love it here. The people I work with are wonderful.”

The company plans to invest at least $15 million in capital expenditures in Atlantic City in 2020, one of those expenditures including an expanded sports betting operation.

Rio Suite Hotel Celebrates 30 Years as Trendsetting Las Vegas Resort

Rio Suite Hotel in Las VegasBring out your Mardi Gras masks, because it’s time to celebrate the Rio Suite Hotel’s 30th birthday. The groundbreaking hotel shook up the Las Vegas resort scene when it opened on Jan. 15, 1990.

With the countless number of resorts on the Las Vegas scene now, it’s easy to forget how the Rio pioneered the way to the norm that’s industry standard today. The Rio was the first of its kind when it put the buffet kitchen in the dining area, when it opened a large-scale nightclub, and when it enticed crowds to its pool with white sands and exotic parties.

The off-Strip Brazilian-themed property also had the first all-suite resort in Las Vegas, with floor-to-ceiling glass in all the rooms. They also perfected the art of on-resort entertainment, with Danny Gans being the first start headliner to command a $100 ticket per show. Magic-show entertainers, Penn and Teller, have been serving laughs at their show that’s been running on the property since 2001.

Rio’s Highlights Over the Years

The Rio has had a colorful past thirty years indeed. Early visitors will recall being greeted by women dressed in colorful costumes with artificial fruit baskets on their heads.

In its heyday, it hosted its famous “Masquerade Show in the Sky,” that Rio guests were able to enjoy several times a night. It’s a much-missed attraction that amused both tourists and locals from Feb. 7, 1997, to its final performance on March 30, 2013.

The color spectacle included performer-laden floats traveling along a track on the ceiling and singers and dancers performing on a two-story, floor-level stage. Audience members can remember eagerly trying to catch beads tossed by performers.

In 1998, the Rio opened its Convention Center, that would later set the stage for the 2005 World Series of Poker Tournament. In 2006, Harrah’s purchased Caesars properties, including the Rio, for $9 billion. Caesars sponsorship of the WSOP helped fill the hotel to maximum capacity.

It was even the home of the late Prince’s residency in the 2000s.

The Chippendales show has also had its famous run there, usually falling under the first-time Vegas visitor’s to-see list.

New Owner: Looking To the Future

On Dec. 5, 2019, the newly formed Dreamscape Companies, became the new owner of the hotel in a $516.3 million deal. It has major hopes bringing the property back to its former glory.

Dreamscape will have plenty of lead time to determine how to drive customers to the 2,500-suite off-Strip property. Caesars Entertainment will continue to operate the building for two years with an option for a third year before Dreamscape takes over with its own management team, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. Caesars will pay annualized rent of $45 million while Dreamscape strategizes on to whom and how it will market the resort.

The 22 acres of unused land, part of the 90-acre Rio campus, also provides potential opportunity, with potential development plans possibly including a Major League Baseball stadium, though it hasn’t been confirmed.

One thing that will remain the same under the new ownership is that Rio will continue to host Caesars’ popular World Series of Poker tournament, at least next year. Hosting rights will remain with Caesars which will later make decisions on where to host the event that attracted a record of more than 154,000 entrants in 2019.

Daily Fantasy Sports Provider DraftKings Opens Las Vegas Office

Town Square Offices in Las VegasDraftKings, the Boston-based daily fantasy sports contest provider, just opened up an office in Las Vegas.

President and co-founder, Matt Kalish, and DraftKings race and sports director, Johnny Avello, welcomed guests to the Town Square office on Wednesday, where 70 employees currently work. The company moved into their flexible new workspace on Monday – which it leases from WeWork – and plan to have more than 300 employees in the upcoming months.

Why Las Vegas is the Perfect Fit

When asked why the company chose Las Vegas to hold their office, Kalish said this:

“This is an iconic city when it comes to sports betting. It’s been the hub of all of that activity in our country for many decades. We see ourselves as looking to integrate as deeply as possible into the community.”

The opportunities with sports betting keep opening up nationwide. We want to make sure we continue to lead the pack and, to do that, we needed to invest in Las Vegas and take advantage of some of the great talent that’s here in this market.”

The Las Vegas office established a dedicated back-of-the-house call center that will handle customer experience, fraud, casino, sportsbook traders, human resources and information technology. Local employees are expected to handle customer inquiries around the clock. Once the DraftKings’ Las Vegas office is fully operational, it will be the second largest in the country behind the Boston operation.

Currently, the company offers its sports-betting app in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Indiana, New Hampshire and West Virginia with physical retail sportsbooks in New Jersey, New York, Iowa and Mississippi. According to Kalish, the company hasn’t decided how they’ll pursue a retail outlet or become a licensed operator in Nevada just yet, instead focusing solely on growing the company’s presence in the Silver State as of now.

Help from Local Talent

Former Wynn Las Vegas sports book director, Johnny Avello, was one of the first local talents to come aboard. He was hired by DraftKings in 2018 to work in the same capacity. Avello’s Las Vegas team includes sportsbook personnel that also formerly worked at other Las Vegas resorts.

Avello said this of finding a sweet spot for the company in town:

“Finding this location, it’s been in the works for a long time and, to me, it’s perfect. Town Square has great amenities, and this is a great work environment. It’s also close to the airport for people who need to get in and out. Anywhere where sports betting is legal, we’re looking to be in that market.”

DraftKings Continues to Expand

The company got its humble start out a spare bedroom. Founded in 2012 by Kalish and his two friends, Jason Robins and Paul Liberman, DraftKings quickly became a known brand once the popularity of fantasy sports was met with more loosened sports rules in different parts of the country.

Currently, the company’s daily fantasy product is available in eight countries, with its sports book division offering mobile and retail betting in eight states. DraftKings is also the official daily fantasy partner of the National Football League and the PGA Tour.

For the past five years, DraftKings has had its eye on operating in Nevada. Last February, they announced their multi-state partnership deal with Caesars.

Under terms of that agreement, Caesars is offering DraftKings market access for its online gaming products, subject to passage of applicable laws and the parties securing applicable gaming licenses.

Their partnership with Caesars could result in new growth in the months ahead with Caesars on the verge of merging with Reno-based Eldorado Resorts Inc., in a proposed $17.3 billion deal. The deal is expected to close in the first half of this year.

The strategic plan to open a company office in the US gambling capital will only continue to expand their highly sought-after product and presence. Kalish said:

“DraftKings is in a great position. We have a ton of interest in the company because of our story. Everybody’s drawn in because of what’s going on with sports betting in the U.S. People want to change industries and change their career path to come work for us. I think we got 45,000 job applications last year.”

$225 Million Casino and Hotel Proposed for Des Moines Airport

Plane on Airport Tarmac, Poker Cards, Red Dice, $225 million Price Tag
The development group, Highview Development Group, presented their plan to build a $225 million casino and hotel to the Des Moines Airport Authority board on Tuesday. The group said the project would effectively help cover a funding shortfall for the airport’s planned new terminal. The airport board has tabled discussion of the proposal until their February meeting.

The proposed complex will include a 350-room hotel connected to the airport via a skywalk. Other winning features are a fountain, rock garden, restaurant and wedding and banquet facilities.

Highview Development Group is led by Reggie Sinha, head of a business and development consultant firm, and includes Wild Rose Entertainment, a company founded by Des Moines entrepreneur Gary Kirke, which would operate the casino.

In a statement released Wednesday, Wild Rose said:

“It should be noted that Wild Rose is not the first nor the only casino organization approached by [Sinha] and his Highview consortium. The company supports and is part of his efforts to put forth a creative solution to generate a long-term, continuous funding stream for the airport’s much needed improvements.”

Terminal Funding Projects

Two former major Des Moines construction projects valued at $16 million, the FedEx building and the South Cargo Apron project, took four years to complete and were the first of two partnerships in the new terminal vision.

Kerty Levy, Des Moines Airport Authority Board Chair, said this of the recently completed projects and their valuable connection to the new terminal vision:

“This project is part of our vision to build a new terminal. A vision that will support our local economy and enable us to grow cargo operations and air service to continue connecting Iowans to anywhere.”

The primary purpose of the $6.7 million FedEx facility was to open land on the south side of the terminal to relocate Signature Flight Support and Des Moines Flying Service to where FedEx currently sits, clearing the way for a new terminal north of the existing site.

The total South Cargo Apron project cost $9.16 million, including the cost of roadways and new pavement.

Current Casinos in the State

As of now, Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino in Altoona serves as the sole legal gambling house in metropolitan Des Moines since it opened as a horse track in 1989. In 1995, it added slot machines and in 2004, added table gambling.

The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission twice rejected investors’ proposals for a casino in Cedar Rapids — in 2014 and 2017 — citing a “saturated market” and potential “cannibalization” of income for other casinos in the state.

Proposed Opening Date

The new, 18-gate terminal, a $500 million project, is planned to have an opening in 2028. Officials have been seeking to cover the project’s funding shortfall, a whopping $194 million, from various sources in order to complete this ambitious project.

The proposed casino-hotel could be the winning ticket to securing the additional funding needed to get the new terminal off the ground. According to the Highway Development Group’s proposal, the casino would generate $85 million per year and create 1,000 jobs.

Kayla Kovarna, an airport spokeswoman, said:

“It’s our duty to consider all proposals that might benefit the airport and greater Des Moines.”

Reno’s Historic Harrah’s to Be Sold, Transforming Into a Non-Gaming Property in the Future

Harrah's Reno Casino, Reno Biggest Little City in the World
Reno’s historic Harrah’s hotel-casino is set to be sold for $50 million to Reno City Center LLC, after being a landmark presence in the Northern Nevada city for nearly 83 years. Sources told The Nevada Independent that the sale announcement will be given by the casino’s owner, VICI Properties, and is expected to happen later this week. The buyer plans to get the 940-room hotel-casino closed within the next six months and converted into a non-gaming “business entity” in the future.

John Payne, President and COO of VICI Properties, said this of the sale:

“The sale of Harrah’s Reno demonstrates our ability to continuously work constructively with our tenants to improve our individual businesses. This disposition will allow VICI to optimize the quality of our real estate portfolio and redeploy the proceeds toward other attractive growth opportunities while maintaining the existing financial terms of the Non-CPLV Master Lease with Caesars.”

Possible Motivations Behind the Sale

Currently, Harrah’s Reno is operated by Caesars Entertainment, which leases it from VICI Properties. After Caesars went through bankruptcy in 2017, VICI Properties, a real estate investment trust, formed as a spinoff of Caesars. Most VICI Properties are leased to Caesars.

According to industry analysts, they’re pointing to the in-progress merger between Caesars and Eldorado Resorts, a $17.3 billion transaction, as the driving force behind the sale. Eldorado, who already owns three downtown Reno casinos, known as “The Row”: Circus Circus Reno, Silver Legacy, and its namesake, Eldorado, would form a near downtown monopoly if it added Harrah’s to its roster.

Analysts speculate that Eldorado Resorts has no desire to add a fourth casino, when The Row forms the bulk of casino gaming in downtown Reno, all conveniently located on downtown’s main drag. Harrah’s is located just south of the Eldorado Casino. Additionally, they could run into federal antitrust concerns with one company owning that many gaming properties in the area.

Harrah’s Brief History

Harrah’s Reno first opened on North Center Street and Virginia Street on October 29, 1937. It was originally a small bingo parlor and casino. Founded by William F. “Bill” Harrah, a successful American businessman, Harrah’s Reno was the original casino in Harrah’s chain that now includes 17 casinos in 11 states, with four being in Nevada – Reno, Lake Tahoe, Las Vegas, and Laughlin.

Throughout the years, Harrah acquired other casinos and expanded his flagship resort. In 1969, a 24-story tower was completed. In 1981, Holiday Inn, the then-owners of the property, commissioned a 100-room tower addition. By the time Harrah died in 1978, the company was already one the industry’s largest regional casino operators.

In 2005, the company was apart of the casino industry’s largest merger at the time: The $9 billion acquisition of Caesars Entertainment. Five years later, Harrah’s changed its corporate name to Caesars.

Future Plans for the Property

While the specifics of what the future property will be remain unclear, what’s clear is that it will be converted into a non-gaming business entity. The transaction is subject to the closing of the Eldorado/Caesars combination, regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions.

Tony Radio, CEO of Caesars Entertainment, said this of the property’s redevelopment and its intended positive future impact on Reno:

“We recognize the long legacy of Harrah’s in Reno, where the brand began 82 years ago and our role in the community. We are pleased the Buyer is committed to the community and supports the redevelopment of this wonderful asset.

We have worked closely with the Buyer to provide a reasonable closure plan that allows our great staff in Reno ample time to secure their next jobs, including priority consideration for relevant openings at our other properties in Nevada, including Lake Tahoe and Las Vegas.”

MGM Resorts International Makes $2.4 Billion Joint Venture Deal by Selling MGM Grand and Mandalay Bay

Mandalay Bay Casino in Las Vegas, For Sale Sign
In a newly formed joint venture between MGM Growth Properties LLC (“MGP”) and Blackstone Real Estate Income Trust (“BREIT”), MGM Resorts International announced Tuesday morning that they will be selling two of their mega Strip properties, the MGM Grand and Mandalay Bay.

MGM Resorts International Makes $2.4 Billion Deal

According to Fox Business, MGM Resorts expects to receive net cash proceeds of approximately $2.4 billion for the deal, and approximately $85 million in MGP operating partnership units as a result of the transaction. MGP is set to own 50.1 perfect of the joint venture, while BREIT will own 49.9 percent.

As part of the transaction, the real estate assets of Mandalay Bay from MGP will also be acquired and both properties will be leased to MGM Resorts for an initial rent of $292 million. This is how it’s been similarly done with the Bellagio, where MGM Resorts leases back the properties and continues to operate them.

Jim Murren, Chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts, said this of the acquisition:

“These announcements represent a key milestone in executing the Company’s previously communicated asset-light strategy, one that enables a best-in-class balance sheet and strong free cash flow generation to provide MGM Resorts with meaningful strategic flexibility to create continued value for our shareholders.

As such, we remain determined to prudently pursue accretive opportunities related to our remaining owned real estate assets including MGM Springfield, our 50% stake in CityCenter and our 55% economic ownership in MGP (pro forma for the potential $1.4bn redemption).

Our corporate objective remains crystal clear, we will continue to monetize our owned real estate assets, which facilitates our strong focus on returning capital to our shareholders, while also retaining significant flexibility to pursue our visible growth initiatives, including Japan and sports betting.”

A Big Boost to the Company Balance Sheet

Substantial proceeds from MGM Resorts previously completed sales of Bellagio and Circus Circus in the previous year were the initial launchpad in reducing the level of company debt through the process of selling its assets. This joint venture will only further execute the company’s 2020 initiatives and create significant improvements in the company’s balance sheet.

Plans for divvying up the proceeds from the newly announced transaction include returning capital to shareholders through share repurchases and dividends. A more specific capital allocation plan is intended to be released once the company releases its earning from their fourth quarter of 2019.

Paul Salem, Chairman of the Real Estate Committee of the Company’s Board of Directors, said this of MGM Resorts financial initiatives through the transaction:

“The valuation levels achieved on the Bellagio and MGM Grand Las Vegas transactions are a testament to MGM Resorts as a high-quality tenant and our overall asset quality. The robust interest in our recent transactions further validates the Company’s conviction on being able to unlock value for our shareholders through its asset light strategy

The transaction represents another key phase of our ongoing review of the Company’s assets and is in-line with all of the Real Estate Committee’s principal objectives of enhancing free cash flow per share, maximizing the value of our owned real estate and equity holdings, highlighting the strength of our operating business, and strengthening the Company’s financial position.”

Closing Date

While subject to certain closing conditions, the transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2020. If the success of the sales of Bellagio and Circus Circus are an indication of the company reaching their long-term financial repositioning goals, MGM Resorts International looks to be in good standing by building an even stronger fortress in terms of their balance sheet with the latest transaction.

What’s Happening in Vegas? January 12-18

There’s something for everybody in Las Vegas. Sports, entertainment, and fun await residents and travelers to Sin City.

Here are all the exciting events taking place this week in Las Vegas:

What's Happening in Vegas Banner

Sunday: January 12th

Escape to Margaritaville

The new musical is appearing at The Smith Center in Las Vegas for their first tour run.  Based on the hit song by Jimmy Buffet, the story follows singing bartender Tully who falls for a woman who walks into his bar. 

With music and lyrics by Buffet himself, the story is a fun tropical-style romp.

Escape to Margaritaville has performances at 2:00 PM and 7:30 PM on January 12th. Tickets are available through The Smith Center.

Monday: January 13th

Ice Skating at Cosmopolitan

The Ice Rink is reopening at The Cosmopolitan and guests of all ages can enjoy the skating fun while taking in the surrounding views of Las Vegas.

Each winter the Boulevard Pool freezes over and becomes a trendy spot to strap on the skates, sip some hot chocolate, and snack on s’ mores by the firepit.

The Ice Rink at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas opens Monday, January 13th at noon with prices starting at $30.

Wednesday: January 15th

UNLV vs San Jose State

UNLV Runnin’ Rebels will face the San Jose Spartans at the Thomas and Mack Center.

The Rebels are looking to keep their momentum going strong coming off a four-game win streak while The Spartans will be pushing hard for dominance. This promises to be an action-packed game.

Catch all the action Wednesday, January 15th starting at 8 PM. Tickets are just $15.

Thursday: January 16th

Bartender Battle at Hofbrauhaus

The ultimate bartender competition will take place at Hofbrauhaus on Thursday, January 16th.

Local bartenders in Las Vegas will go head-to-head in a real-time competition to see who can make the best cocktail. Attendees can enjoy samples of the signature cocktails during round one.

The battle begins at 6 PM with tickets priced at $15. Must be 21 years or older to attend.

Saturday: January 18th

The Chainsmokers at XS

Grammy Award-winning duo The Chainsmokers continue their residency at XS nightclub inside The Wynn Las Vegas.

XS has frequently been ranked as one of the top nightclubs in Vegas and has quickly become the place to see EDM, making it the perfect home for The Chainsmokers whose residency is set to run through 2021.

Fans can catch their live performances for just $40 per ticket.

There’s always something to do in Las Vegas, the city that never sleeps!

Robot Bartenders to Serve Drinks at Wynn’s Encore Casino Soon

When Encore Boston, Boston’s first casino resort which opened last June, it was met with tremendous fanfare and anticipation. The pre-opening projections were high, estimated at $800 million, but a short seven months later, the excitement wore off.

Because the casino didn’t hit their lofty protections, and blames soft revenue from slot machines, they had to come up with ways to cut business costs and help round out their bottom line. One of the ways they did this? Automating service jobs, essentially using machines to replace some 70 non-union workers.

Encore Workers Face Unpredicted Cuts

Around 70 bartenders, apprentices and casino workers, namely bartenders working ‘Back of the House’ service bars, hidden from customers, were told they were being cut at mandatory meetings. What were they told they would be replaced by? Dispensary drink machines that cocktail servers would be able to operate on their own “at the push of a button.”

The news came suddenly, with workers being told that cuts would go into effect on January 17th.  For the affected workers, Boston Encore held a job fair at the Everett casino in an attempt to help alleviate some of the shock caused by the new lack of job security, although employees reported feeling there were not enough full-time or comparable jobs for everyone. As a Wynn spokesperson wrote in an email:

“Should any employee become displaced, we do everything we can to provide alternate job opportunities for them within our organization. Given the amount of related openings in other areas of the business, we cannot project the number of positions that may be impacted as a result of the automated beverage dispensers at this time.”

In a statement to Boston 25 News, Encore Boston said:

“The addition of the drink dispensers allows us the opportunity to significantly improve both the speed of service and provide a better guest experience. These dispensers are not unique to Encore.”

MGM Resorts: First to Use New Bartending Technology

It turns out, the MGM Springfield casino in Western Massachusetts pioneered the digital bartending movement. They’ve been using the automatic drink dispensing technology since opening in 2018. Springfield’s parent company, MGM Resorts International, has also began experimenting with the technology across Las Vegas properties as well. The gaming industry giant plans to install the same machines in Las Vegas Casinos, in an effort to cut $100 million in U.S. payroll costs, over the next two years.

MGM Resorts International Director of Corporate Media Relations Brian Ahern, said this of the new job-replacing technology:

“These technologies are an example of our work to drive innovation that enhances customer satisfaction and support the most important factor in personalized guest service: our employees.”

According to Ahern, these machines are essentially the “smarter cousin” of the automated soda dispensers used in fast-food drive-thrus, and have the ability to mix thousands of drinks.

The Future of Robot Bartenders: Is It a Safe Bet?

Talk about getting your drinks served with a twist. While job security for front-of-house bartenders who more closely interact with guests remain in the clear, it’s hard to predict the impact these automated drink dispensers will have on the hospitality industry as whole. While the intent for reduced casino costs, better drink efficiency, and guest experience has been spoken on heavily, the plan isn’t a sure bet just yet. We’ll have to wait and see once robot bartenders start being used in full-blown operation across properties in the US.