Daily Archives: June 23, 2009

Hey, Buddy: Please Buy Our Cheap Las Vegas Casino Land!

It’s going from bad to worse for developer Andrew Lai and bankrupt land owner Spring Mtn. Wynn Investments:  Nobody bid on their prime casino land in Las Vegas. 

Despite only requiring a $1 million deposit and a minimum bid of $27.5 million for the prime 22-acre Las Vegas casino land site currently appraised at $174 million, or $7.9 million per acre, not one person was willing to take a chance and shell out cash at the May 16 auction. 

The dream of developer Lai was to develop and open in 2010 the Asian-themed Dragon City Casino and retail center, including a 31-story, 386-room hotel, employing at the facilities between 6,000 and 8,000 workers, appealing to middle-market Asian visitors to Las Vegas.

Even as the economy sputtered in 2008, in February Crowne Plaza still hailed the planned development, located on the prime property located at the edge pf the Chinatown district on Spring Mountain Road, a real gem, promising to bring “tens of thousand of visitors a year, making [it] a great location for an upscale meeting-savvy brand like Crown Plaza,” according to a statement last year from Gina LaBarre, vice president of brand management for the hotel chain.  But, a few months later, the economy was in the toilet and all plans were squashed. 

Now, the property is being split up with three of the nine total parcels on the site – amounting to 9.4 acres in the smack dab “filet mignon” center of the property, owned by the Community Bank of Nevada as collateral for prior loans (currently used as a staging area for the defunct Cosmopolitan) – going up in a foreclosure sale on June 26, as agreed in a prior deal reached with Spring Mtn. Wynn Investments.

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Huge “Ribbon of Life” Theatrical Show Comes to Las Vegas

The annual “Ribbon of Life” is a completely original production show. The largest show of its kind staged in Las Vegas, the production typically involves more than 200 performers from Las Vegas Strip shows and other theatrical organizations in the city. All talent in the show donates their time and talents to the cause, and the Las Vegas Hilton donated the theater space. 

It’s an all-original, all-singing, all-dancing musical throwback to the heydays of Vegas when Las Vegas-based HIV/AIDS charity Golden Rainbow presents its 23rd annual “Ribbon of Life” fundraising production show. The spectacular will be staged June 28 at 1 p.m. in the Hilton Theater at the Las Vegas Hilton in Las Vegas. 

The production is a fun dose of old Vegas nostalgia that will have you tappin’ your toes and singing along. Scheduled to appear are George Wallace, Human Nature, MTV’s Top Pop Group Mosaic and performers from Chapquist Entertainment, “Fantasy,” “Jersey Boys,” “Jubilee!,” “Ka,” “La Femme,” “Love,” “O,” “Phantom the Las Vegas Spectacular,” “Rich & Famous,” Searcy Entertainment, “Sin City Bad Girls,” “Voci Vegas” and “Zumanity.” 

The show is staged in three acts, celebrating the fun Vegas entertainment traditions of Rock & Roll (complete with Elvis tribute), Supper Club and Motown. Directing are veteran Las Vegas performers Chris Coaley and Shannon Hardin. 

Tickets are priced at $250, $200, $150, $100 and $50 and are available at www.goldenrainbow.org by calling (702) 384-2899.  All proceeds benefit Golden Rainbow’s mission to provide housing and direct financial assistance to Southern Nevadans living with HIV/AIDS and to support prevention education. Special room rates are available for attendees at the Las Vegas Hilton by calling (800) 732-7117.

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Where are the Las Vegas live entertainers?

Las Vegas was historically synonymous with live musicians playing in all the casinos and clubs.  They were in every nook and crany in Las Vegas.  But, with each passing year, a decreasing number of venues offer the real deal.  So, where have all the live entertainers gone?  While not extinct, but nearly so, the answer is simple: expensive tax laws sourly mixing with club profit goals and our continuing economic challenges.  Lounge

Nevada’s live entertainment law passed in 2003, went into effect on January 1, 2004, and was modified in 2005.  By Nevada Gaming Commission and State gaming Control board guidelines, gaming venues are required to pay – depending on the property’s gaming license (restricted or non-restricted), number of tables and/or slot machines and occupancy – between 5 and 10 percent casino entertainment tax from their gross receipts for hosting live entertainment events. 

The tax kicks in when live performances commence or when a cover is being charged for the host venue, whichever comes earliest. 

Neither you, the physical club nor the DJ counts as live entertainment – thus the meteoric DJ growth in Las Vegas.  Thing that do count:  singers, dancers, magicians, dancers, actors, acrobats, animals, and, yes, even circuses.  Flair bartenders don’t count unless they sing, dance, or perform acrobatics. 

“Unarmed combat,” NASCAR races, and events where all proceeds go to entirely nonprofit organizations are also exempt, as are outdoor concerts at non-gaming venues.  Fashion shows are taxable, but models coincidentally mingling in high-fashion clothes are not.  Karaoke is also exempt unless the leader/host is paid and performs.  

Go-go dancers and troupes can only perform in clubs for short periods- nine minutes at a time and no more than 20 minutes collectively in an hour.  To get around that, many Las Vegas clubs put the women to work as cocktail servers, shot girls or hostesses as their primary on-paper function; those who happen to also dance as their secondary function are exempt from the tax. 

And for all the entertainment the live entertainers provide, the patrons are still tax exempt.  Passing some of the steep tax in whole or part to customers is one way to avoid the problem; that’s how concert venues generally handle it. 

But many Las Vegas venues take the position of having an impromptu performance by a celebrity host (technically therefore a guest or patron who happens just to be a celebrity) – thus the reason that many times you don’t know who exactly is coming to a club.  A billed act or advertised performance is a surefire way to set the tax into motion.  Many just “suck it up” and pay the tax in hopes for bigger offsetting revenue returns. 

As readers of Las Vegas Backstage Access, what’s your recommended solution to get more live music and other entertainment?

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Barbie Spotted Hanging Out in a Las Vegas Casino!

If you have a lonely $4,000 sleeping in your pocket that’s waiting to be spent, you might consider plunking down the green for a night of nostalgic bliss at the Palms Casino & Hotel in Las Vegas and stay in their new Barbie suite.  Barbie

Sooner or later you’d expect Mattel’s iconic doll-of-a-woman to resurface, but in a Las Vegas casino?  Now, she’s grown up (really grown up) and debuting at the resort’s first redesign of their 2006-vintage Fantasy Suites.  The folks at the Palms have rededicated their former “Pink suite,” transforming it into the new “Barbie suite.”  More than a mere new logo on the floor and a collage-walled entry, there are Barbie-cloth upholstered chairs with lace-up backs and tutu skirts, a Barbie dining set, a vintage-Barbie mirror and art canvases, silver lame ottomans, foil-print wallpapers, Pucci-print pillows.  

If you like pink everywhere and have a lust for the perfect gal, you’ll surely have a nirvana experience like no other. 

Part of a global marketing “celebration” of Barbie’s 50th anniversary, the suite  was decorated by Jonathan Adler, based on the actual “Malibu Dream House” he staged for an event earlier this spring.  

The suite will exist for a year; the management is mum on what will happen to the suite after that.  So, if you’d like to have a grand botox, hair extension, or some other similar party with your girlfriends at someplace that has true Las Vegas kitsch, you best make your reservation early.

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