Wednesday, April 16, 2014         

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The reservations lines are open at SLS Las Vegas, the north-Strip resort at the site of the old Sahara. The first night for booking is Aug. 25; rates are $109 weekdays and $139 weekends, with a two-night minimum.

The High Roller is rolling at center-Strip. At 550 feet the main attraction at the new Linq restaurant and bar district is the tallest observation wheel in the world, five feet higher than the Singapore Flyer.

After tallying ticket prices from 94 shows, this year's average comes in at $82.86, $2.64 more than in last year's survey conducted by LasVegasAdvisor.com.

The co-headliner (along with the High Roller observation wheel) of the center-Strip Linq development has opened. The Brooklyn Bowl is a 78,000-square-foot multilevel bar, restaurant, bowling alley and live-music venue at the center of The Linq.

Whereas Memorial Day has always been the unofficial opening of the season, many casinos are taking advantage of warm temperatures to kick off their pools in time to get the spring break business.

It was technically a swing and a miss, but it wasn't a miss by much. After running slightly ahead of pace for 11 months, Las Vegas had a relatively slow December, causing the 2013 visitor count to land at 39.67 million tourists, just below 2012's record total of 39.73 million.

The second phase of the Linq restaurant and entertainment complex at center Strip debuted Friday. But while the entire Linq campus is accessible to the public, individual components will continue to open over the next couple of months, leading to a grand opening in late spring.

Downtown's Plaza is building a 3,500-seat arena on its roof to host the Las Vegas Wranglers hockey team. The 45,000-square-foot fabric-shell structure will occupy the area that's currently home to the Plaza's tennis and basketball courts, plus the pool (the latter of which is slated to remain).

The opening date for Las Vegas' next major resort has been announced. SLS, on the far north end of the Strip and formally the Sahara, will debut on Labor Day weekend.

Nevada's sports books took in $119.4 million in bets on the Super Bowl, resulting in a win of $19.7 million, or 16.5 percent. The "handle," which is the total amount bet, was a record, topping the previous high of $98.9 million set last year.

The original Brooklyn Bowl in New York City was called "one of the most incredible places on Earth" by Rolling Stone magazine, and now Las Vegas is set to have one of its own.

A unique retail area called Container Park has opened in downtown Las Vegas. Located in the Fremont East entertainment district, the development features boutiques, art galleries, bars and restaurants housed in stacks of recycled shipping containers.

More details have been released about Resorts World Las Vegas, the center-Strip megaresort that will be built on the site of the unfinished Echelon Place.

After several years with only minor additions, Las Vegas is poised for a 2014 with multiple major openings. Leading off will be The Linq, the center-Strip restaurant, bar and nightclub district that debuted partially at the end of last year and will stage its formal opening in March.

The front section of The Linq opened Dec. 27 with O'Sheas casino, a few restaurants and a retail store in operation. It's only a preview of what the center-Strip restaurant, bar and nightclub district that is sandwiched between the Flamingo and The Quad will be when it's completed in March.

Information about the official New Year's Eve fireworks display in Las Vegas has been announced. Known as "America's Party," the show will encompass both the annual fireworks show on the Strip and live entertainment downtown at the Fremont Street Experience.

Not one, but two new shopping malls are on their way to Las Vegas casinos with Strip addresses. The Grand Bazaar at Bally's will host more than 150 stores in the setting of a 21st-century bazaar. The mall will be built on about two acres fronting the casino and is expected to open in fall 2014.

With a week to go until Christmas, the casinos are pulling out the stops. New skating rinks have been opened at Caesars Palace and downtown's Gold Spike, bringing the total of ice rinks in the desert to four (along with the Venetian and Cosmopolitan).

During December many Las Vegas shows go "dark" to allow cast members to take extended holiday vacations. If you're visiting between now and New Year's and have your heart set on seeing a show, make sure to check that there will be performances during your dates.

The holiday season is always a prime time to find a low room rate in Las Vegas. Last week the researchers at the Las Vegas Advisor canvassed every casino in town, looking for the best leads on lodging in December.

It's been announced that the hit musical "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark" is heading to Las Vegas; however, where it will land is still unknown. With ticket sales dwindling for the Broadway production, the final curtain is set to fall there in January, with plans for a Las Vegas debut sometime in 2015.

The oddly named Westin Casuarina is now Max Casino. While it sounds a little like changing from one strange name to another, there's a certain logic in it, given that many will always remember the property as the Maxim.

Ryan Riess, a professional poker player from Michigan, emerged from a starting field of 6,352 to become the new World Series of Poker Main Event champion and take down a first prize of $8.4 million.

Las Vegas’ newest casino, the Downtown Grand, opened on schedule Oct. 27. The former Lady Luck casino has undergone a $100 million makeover to create an entirely new resort, with 650 rooms in two towers, a rooftop pool and several restaurants and bars, including the Art Bar, which features replicas of famous paintings.

The former Barbary Coast and Bill's Gamblin' Hall & Saloon will not become the Gansevoort Las Vegas after all. In a surprise move, Caesars Entertainment has cut ties with the Gansevoort Hotel Group after Massachusetts regulators denied Caesars a gaming license over the association, citing concerns with a Gansevoort investor.

With the Downtown Grand poised to debut at the end of the month, moves are being made in anticipation of a rejuvenated downtown Las Vegas.

With the Downtown Grand poised to debut at the end of the month, moves are being made in anticipation of a rejuvenated downtown Las Vegas.

Big projects are heating up all over town, but at least one has been delayed. The transformation of THEhotel to Delano Las Vegas at Mandalay Bay will miss its deadline, which was originally announced for the first quarter of 2014.

More details have been released about the under-construction Gansevoort Las Vegas, formerly Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall & Saloon.

It’s finally official: Britney Spears will headline at Planet Hollywood on a two-year residency deal.

Las Vegas has its big openings and it has its small ones. One of the latter took place recently with the debut of Wildfire Valley View, a small "locals" casino on Valley View Boulevard, about 3 miles west of the Strip. It's the fifth in the Wildfire chain, which is owned and operated by Station Casinos.

Football season is here, and in Las Vegas that means promotions, parties, betting specials and, especially, football contests. For the fourth year running, the best contest in town is "Pick the Pros" at the Orleans, Gold Coast, Suncoast, Sam's Town, California and Fremont casinos.

A District Court judge has ruled that the Harmon tower at CityCenter is unsafe and can be demolished. A pending lawsuit between MGM Resorts International (MRI) and the project's general contractor had blocked the demolition until now.

Have you been yearning for some more Las Vegas shopping? Probably not, but if you are, Treasure Island at center-Strip has announced plans to build a three-story, 46,200-square-foot shopping center.

Following announcements of observation wheels, roller coasters and zip lines going up all over town, an Australian entrepreneur says he wants to build a wakeboarding, snowboarding, surfing and white-water rafting experience in the vicinity of the Las Vegas Strip.

The Hacienda casino, about 15 miles outside of Las Vegas near the Hoover Dam, has been sold. Bigger news than the sale itself, though, is who the casino was sold to. The buyer is the Dotty’s chain of slot and video poker parlors.

The Lift, about three miles west of the Strip on Valley View Road, closed its doors last week, and construction is expected to begin immediately on the conversion that will make it fifth in the Wildfire brand.

A major thunderstorm with heavy winds, including a 71 mph gust, hit Las Vegas on July 19, resulting in snapped power poles, uprooted trees and flash floods throughout the city, including inside Strip casinos.

The nine final-table players in the World Series of Poker's Main Event have been determined. The leader is JC Tran with 38 million in chips, 8 million more than the second-biggest stack.

The Main Event of the World Series of Poker is underway at the Rio. The starting field of 6,352 players is 7.5 percent below last year's 6,865 and the smallest field since 2005.

Another month, another new thrill ride. Coming only a couple of weeks after the announcement of the Rio's new tower-to-tower zip line, US Thrill Rides LLC has submitted plans to build a $100 million combination roller coaster and observation tower.

Summertime in Las Vegas traditionally means low room rates, and the summer of 2013 is no different. A survey conducted last week turned up 53 hotel-casinos with rates of $50 and below, one more than last year's total.

The World Series of Poker at the Rio in Las Vegas is at its halfway point, with most of the premier events scheduled over the next couple of weeks. • Also: Big Al's moving • Bellagio summer • Carmine's coming • Wet 'n' Wild Vegas

Construction is poised to begin on the Strip's next attraction, Hershey's Chocolate World, which will be built inside New York-New York as part of MGM Resorts International's $100 million retail and entertainment district. • Also: 88-cent oysters; twofer for dads; rebates down; more

A zip line-style "thrill ride" that will span the two towers at the Rio has been announced. The "Voodoo Skyline" ride will start from the casino's 50-story Masquerade Tower and run 845 feet at speeds of up to 33 mph to the 20-story Ipanema Tower.

While it may seem as though the latest World Series of Poker champion was crowned only yesterday, the time has already come to look for the next champ.

After years of operating with what may be the worst casino name of all time, Terrible's is finally changing its name. As of July the new name of the casino on Flamingo Road east of the Strip will be Silver Sevens Hotel & Casino.

The Las Vegas pool season officially kicks off Memorial Day weekend, but most of the party pools are already in full swing. Once you had to be a hotel guest to get into a casino pool, but now 29 are open to the public.

South Point has announced that it will build a $30 million bowling center that will host seven big-league tournaments, along with bowling expos, conventions, and smaller tournaments, under a 12-year deal with the United States Bowling Congress.

UltimatePoker.com became the first online site to open for legal, live, real-money poker this week. While the current operation is being referred to as a "beta test," you can play for real money if you are over 21 and in Nevada.

MGM Resorts International says it will convert the sidewalk space in front of New York-New York and the Monte Carlo into a $100 million park and public promenade, apparently inspired by New York City's Madison Square Park, complete with popular vendors from the original, including a Shake Shack burger stand.

Downtown Las Vegas' Gold Spike casino closed without notice last week after being sold to Zappo's CEO Tony Hsieh's "Downtown Project" redevelopment initiative.

While plans for recently announced bigger Las Vegas projects continue to be formulated, two ongoing renovations are coming to conclusion. The second phase of a big room-remodeling project at Bellagio has been completed, with makeovers of 928 rooms in the Spa Tower.

The Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority has approved the first phase of a $2.5 billion makeover of the Las Vegas Convention Center. Phase I of creating the "Las Vegas Global Business District" consists of planning only, and is budgeted at $150 million.

Making up for a brief respite last year, when the average price of a Las Vegas show ticket declined slightly, prices have jumped up this year to an all-time high. We researched ticket prices from 93 shows, and this year's average comes in at $80.22.

Bill's Gamblin' Hall & Saloon will reopen with the high-end Gansevoort brand, famous for attracting a celebrity clientele in New York City. The resort will be renamed Gansevoort Las Vegas and will have 188 "Parisian apartment-style" rooms, including 19 suites.

Stealing some of the thunder from a recently announced stadium planned for the University of Nevada-Las Vegas area, MGM Resorts International has announced that it will build a 20,000-seat indoor sports and events arena on land it owns behind the Monte Carlo and New York-New York.

In the most significant Las Vegas development in several years, Malaysian-based Genting Group is buying the stalled Echelon property on the north Strip from Boyd Gaming Corp. and will build a $2 billion resort called Resorts World Las Vegas.

In a surprising change of policy, Caesars Entertainment casinos in Las Vegas, have begun charging resort fees to hotel guests. A resort fee is an added daily charge for amenities and services, such as internet hookups, fitness-center access and bottled water in the rooms.

Two years after the former Sahara closed its doors at the north end of the Las Vegas Strip, work has begun on the resort's $415 million makeover that will transform it into SLS Las Vegas.

Bill's Gamblin' Hall and Saloon, located at the heart of the Las Vegas Strip, closed earlier this month. The casino will undergo a $180 million renovation and transformation into a "boutique resort," featuring a rooftop pool and a new night-life attraction overlooking the Strip.

Nevada's sports books took in $98.9 million in bets on the Super Bowl, resulting in a win of $7.2 million, or 7.3 percent. The "handle," which is the total amount bet, was a record, topping the previous high of $94.5 million in 2006.

The first big Las Vegas opening of 2013 takes place this week, when the Nobu Hotel opens at Caesars Palace. The 181-room hotel-within-a-hotel is in the former Centurion Tower and promises the ultimate in luxury and customer service.

Terrible’s casino has completed a $7 million face-lift. The renovation of its 327 hotel rooms includes new furniture, carpeting, flat-screen TVs and other amenities.

Several years after Wet 'n Wild on the Strip closed, no fewer than three water parks are now poised to operate in the Las Vegas area. On the west side of town, Wet 'n' Wild Las Vegas (no affiliation with the original) is already under construction.

After a positioning year in 2012 that saw little in the way of new properties, 2013 figures to be busier in Las Vegas. The first major project debuts in early February with the opening of the Nobu hotel, a 180-room hotel-within-a-hotel at Caesars Palace.

Announced back in September, the official name change from the Imperial Palace to The Quad took place last week in Las Vegas. Concurrent with the change, renovations are under way and scheduled to be completed by late 2013.

Information about the official New Year's Eve celebration in Las Vegas has been announced. Known as "America's Party," the show will encompass both the famed annual fireworks show on the Strip and live entertainment downtown at the Fremont Street Experience.

Work has finally begun to convert the former Lady Luck to the Downtown Grand. The Lady Luck was shuttered in early 2006 and has gone through several near-returns, with nothing positive materializing to date.

During December many Las Vegas shows go "dark" to allow cast members to take extended holiday vacations. Make sure to check that there will be performances during your stay.

Will you take into account the late U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye’s wishes when voting in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate in August?
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