Looking back at the past year, several important casino stories weren’t broken by the dailies, or even the weeklies; they were first reported on VegasTripping.com, a website that is increasingly first with news from the Las Vegas casino industry. In July, news about Aria’s Legionella outbreak first surfaced on the site after a hotel guest shared the e-mail that the hotel had sent him. It wasn’t until the next day that anyone else picked the story up.
A few weeks ago, the local dailies announced that the Flamingo was renovating 2,307 rooms, transforming them into moderately modern FAB rooms, with hardwood floors and muted walls offsetting the hot pink curtains. But the story had been broken more than a month earlier on VegasTripping. The site hadn’t been sent a press release or given a list of contacts; instead, it leaked news of the upgrade after a tip from reader A5RoadDogg, who’d seen the new rooms deep inside the Total Rewards website: Caesars Entertainment had already made the news public in a sense, but wasn’t ready to inject it into the news cycle.
That’s the value of VegasTripping. According to Chuck Monster, the “head tripper,” what passes for gaming journalism is often more about amplifying pre-produced messages than thoroughly covering a subject. That’s not the approach his site takes.
“We are an army of people whose passion is Las Vegas casinos,” he says. “When a member of the army discovers something, they report it back to base. VegasTripping is the conduit and satellite dish to transmit information to the rest of the membership.”
It could be something one of VegasTripping’s “industrious Internet ferrets” spies on a reservation website or an architect’s online portfolio; it could be a sneak peek behind a construction wall—or it could be a legit tip from an insider, as was the case when the site reported the Sahara was closing well in advance of the official notice.
That means news that’s usually ahead of the curve and not always welcome to casino operators, who usually prefer to tightly control their message. Official spokespeople often don’t give their imprimatur, as they do with the dailies (although Sahara owner Sam Nazarian has posted on VegasTripping), but the volunteer army is changing the way casino news reaches the public. It occasionally might be inconvenient for those who’d like a tidier message, but perhaps the industry can take heart that there’s an army out there that cares so much.