Vegas News March 1, 2020
The Vegas News this week will start with a little storytime that starts in college and continues today in casinos. (Don’t worry, we will get to New Caesars soon enough….) You may have noticed that music plays a large part in my life when I visit casinos. Music really helps set a tone for many social settings from bars to casinos to hotels. Many of my experiences are tied to music. This is one reason I think about my Vegas adventures so often.
I didn’t grow up this being so close to music. My parents listened to country music and oldies growing up. Yuck. I grew up listening to mainstream pop and hip hop on the radio. Basic. I wasn’t someone that looked out for music until my 20’s. College is when I started to discover music.
Many people in my dorms listened to classic rock like Pink Floyd and Meatloaf. It was awful but helped me become the person I am today. I discovered a whole new world of music when I started working for the radio station doing sports updates. I learned about so much new music in that time.
College helped form my taste in a lot of things but listening to a strange variety of music stays with me. I listen to Pitbull as much as I do Pantera, Goo Goo Dolls, and Queens of the Stone Age. My taste in music today is driven by my mood.
Music helps create a certain vibe. It creates an atmosphere and a trigger for memories. I’m currently listening to a soft house playlist on Spotify. This reminds me of mornings at The Palazzo sipping coffee and playing penny slots. I came to love the Hard Rock because of the up-tempo rock jams. After a few hours at the Hard Rock, my friends and I would head to Palms for the poppiest pop jams. Both were very different but amazing experiences. Seeing Britney Spears at Rain inside Palms is where I developed my fandom for Brit Brit.
Today, I love the music mix at the Cosmopolitan. They play different music than other Las Vegas casinos play. Some of you know I love the pop jams and oldies at Red Rock Casino. They play more Huey Lewis and The News and Neil Diamond than any other casino in Vegas. Both are different but distinctive and memorable.
SLS played different music from other Las Vegas casinos when it first opened. I loved it and spent a lot of time there in the early days. I’m convinced the downfall of the property began when they changed the music to the generic pop you hear in most casinos. For what it’s worth that continues today at Sahara. Yawn.
Luxury Hotels Using Music To Create A Special Atmosphere
Earlier this week I was reading an article at Skift about luxury hotels using music to create a special atmosphere. After reading this I flashed back to my recent visit to LA where each hotel lobby had its own unique vibe. Music is tied to so many great Vegas memories that I’m always looking to find unique musical experiences that are better than I hear in most casinos today.
More Unique Experiences At Casino Properties?
I shared the Skift article and mentioned that casinos could spend more time creating a special vibe for the property. Later that day I saw that The Mirage is partnering with New Level Radio to enhance its music and branding. I look forward to seeing how this affects the casino environment. I’m curious if MGM Resorts is testing this to create more unique experiences at its properties.
Okay, that’s enough personal stuff about how I enjoy music. Let’s get to the news. This week we’ll do a deep dive into Caesars and Eldorado and serve the rest in small bites.
Old Caesars + Eldorado Earnings = #NewCaesars News
This week both Caesars Entertainment and Eldorado Resorts reported earnings. These two companies will become one sometime in the next few months. During this week’s earnings call Eldorado CEO Tom Reeg said the company continues to work through licensing and regulation. After the call, Eldorado Resorts received approval from Maryland.
He says they can see the finish line and expects the merger between Eldorado and Caesars to finish early in the second quarter (April, May, June). Expect to #NewCaesars beginning sometime in April or May but definitely by June.
One interesting non-Vegas note is that Reeg said that he expects to see some current Eldorado properties to become Horseshoe or Harrah’s brand casinos in the future. He also confirmed that Caesars doesn’t plan on moving forward licensing the Caesars brands to other companies.
The new company still expects to sell at least one Caesars Vegas Strip property. Reeg reiterated that any casino sale in Las Vegas will take place after the deal is closed and within 12 months. There have been multiple rumors that Planet Hollywood and Bally’s are currently on the market.
These calls are typically boring so it was surprising and fun to hear Reeg call out an analyst who quoted verbatim the Bloomberg rumors about Caesars that we shared last week. He said that the company does not plan on selling more properties and leasing back the casino the way Caesars has with Rio.
Both Eldorado and Caesars touted sports betting performance in new markets. For example, Caesars says food and beverage sales are up 300% in Biloxi, MS since sports betting became legal. Eldorado said similar without numbers. They also say the company already has a profitable sports betting operation.
Reeg says Eldorado will not amend the sports betting deal with Eldorado and William Hill. Having said that, he didn’t say William Hill will take over sports betting at Caesars properties. Reeg thinks New Caesars can be a “national power in sports betting” and is still trying to figure out how to maximize profitability.
We should hear a plan for the sports betting operations before the year is over. If I had to guess, I’d say New Caesars will use both brands at different properties moving forward. Perhaps the deal will continue with William Hill operating all Eldorado properties plus some smaller Caesars properties while Caesars continues in bigger markets.
Both companies have media deals (Caesars with Bleacher Report and ESPN/ABC, William Hill with CBS digital) as well as league and specific team deals. Keeping the companies separate maximizes these deals which should maximize revenue. I look forward to hearing more after the merger is complete.
Switching over to the Caesars earnings call, the company confirmed that the Caesars Forum conference center will open in March. They also mentioned that the company has booked 240,000 room nights already for events at the Caesars Forum. These are typically convention rate sales which are usually more expensive than rooms booked for vacation.
One of the more astonishing notes from the Caesars earnings is that its Las Vegas hotels had a 95.8% occupancy in 2019. The average daily room rate last year was $150 per night. Both are slight increases from the previous year. These numbers are always fascinating to me. See page 17 of the earnings presentation for more specifics.
For a relatively mellow week, there was a lot of news. We’re going to start Quick Hits with sports betting since I have a video and want to place it close to the relevant content.
- Circa Sports (The D Las Vegas and Golden Gate) announced the new Circa Sports Million contests this week. The planning video above is fun. You can also read about both contests here.
- While we’re discussing Circa Sports, it looks like they might be getting ready to start operating on the east coast. Read more here.
- Nevada gaming is now reporting mobile sports betting info. About half of the wagers in NV were placed using a mobile device. You can see the report here. Earlier in the week, William Hill reported that 69% of its NV wagers placed last year were on a mobile device. For comparison, PA and NJ see about 80%-90% of wagers placed online or on a mobile device.
- Caesars is increasing room rates by $2 per night at The Linq, Flamingo Las Vegas, Harrah’s Las Vegas, and Bally’s Las Vegas. Everybody freak out! The resort fee increase from $35 to $37 comes just in time to make a few more bucks from people visiting Las Vegas for the NFL Draft.
- Speaking of the NFL draft, casinos will stop taking money NFL Draft prop bets 24 hours before players are selected. Keep this in mind if you’d like to wager on this.
- An interactive Star Wars attraction is opening at the Fashion Show Mall. Read more here.
- Outside of Las Vegas – Would you go to a KISS themed casino? Read more here.
- A show nobody cared about at Luxor is closing. Read more here.
- There’s a new coffee shop opening in the Art’s District in downtown Las Vegas. Read more here.
- Las Vegas Wingfest is almost here! See details and find tickets here.
- The WSOP announced all of its tournaments. There are more than 100 events this year. Read more here.
- Robbie Williams is adding more shows to his residency at Wynn Las Vegas. Read more here.
- Las Vegas feels like the kind of city people wouldn’t mind having a cancelled flight. Sorry, McCarran Airport is pretty low on this ranking of airport cancellations. Read more here.