New Year Will Bring Activity to Las Vegas

Anthony Curtis’ nationally syndicated weekly column

December 27, 2011

After a quiet 2011 that was filled with remodeling projects but little else, 2012 figures to be busier for Las Vegas. In fact, the first major project debuts this week with the opening of Caesars Palace’s 668-room Octavius Tower. Downtown the Smith Center for the Performing Arts and the Mob Museum are both scheduled to open, while a big remodel is planned for the soon-to-be-renamed Fitzgeralds casino. But the biggest project of 2012 will be The Linq, the massive outdoor entertainment and retail complex being built at center-Strip. The Linq won’t be completed till 2013; however, its influence will be seen in remodelings at Flamingo and Imperial Palace and the likely closing of O’Sheas early in the year.

Plaza Kaput: One project that won’t be coming back is one of the last megaresorts to be announced before the economic downturn. The $5.4 billion Plaza Hotel, proposed for the 36-acre site where the New Frontier used to be, has officially been scuttled.

Playboy Downsized: The casino in the Playboy Club at the Palms has been significantly downsized and now has only four blackjack tables and a roulette table. All video poker and slots have been removed and the original bunny dealers have been replaced with new bunnies.

Five Stars: Joël Robuchon at MGM Grand and Twist at Mandarin Oriental were the only restaurants awarded Five Stars by the Forbes Travel Guide (formerly Mobil) this year. Mandarin Oriental at CityCenter, Skylofts at MGM Grand, and the Las Vegas Tower Suites at both Wynn and Encore were named Five Star hotels.

Question: Which casinos will benefit the most from the Department of Justice’s opinion on Internet gambling?

Answer: Not much short term, but it will have a huge impact over time. Several Las Vegas casinos have been readying for the prospect of legalized online gambling, but laws need to be passed before it’s clear who will benefit most. Right now, Caesars Entertainment with its World Series of Poker brand appears to be leading the pack.

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