Having gotten through a year that has seen the first post-recession casino opening and the birth of paid parking on the Strip, 2017 will likely bring even more change. The year ahead will see many shifts in gaming and hospitality in Las Vegas.
Starting with the Strip, there is a chance that the New Year could spur movement on the three parcels of land that continue to remind us that the boom years are not back. Fontainebleau’s rumored sale and eventual demolition or completion might happen; Resorts World Las Vegas might start ramping up; and we should find out whether Alon Las Vegas is able to secure a new funding partner now that Crown Resorts has pulled out. If not, that project could end before it begins.
Monte Carlo will continue its transformation into Park MGM and NoMad Las Vegas; that won’t be final until 2018, but the work to retool the hotel will intensify. Park Theater—a greatly enlarged venue on the site where the Lance Burton Theater once stood—opened on December 17.
Tropicana Las Vegas, under the ownership of Penn National Gaming, has big—but still unspecified—changes ahead in the year, beyond the planned opening of celebrity chef Robert Irvine’s new restaurant. Other resorts are shuffling dining and entertainment options, as well—Wynn Las Vegas will open a new Strip-front shopping plaza later in 2017.
Downtown is waiting to see what Greg and Derek Stevens will do with the former Las Vegas Club site. The combined footprint that the owners of The D Hotel and Golden Gate have acquired gives them the potential to create something that could profoundly change Fremont Street. While it will still take years for design and construction to be completed, an announcement of the plans for the property may jump-start other nearby projects, as rival operators strive to keep up with the Stevens brothers. With the California Hotel and Casino’s renovation done, this could be time for a major project at another Boyd Gaming Downtown stalwart: Fremont.
Off the Strip, Palace Station is going to unveil a new bingo hall and casino facade, and its younger cousin, Sunset Station, celebrates its 20th anniversary.
Within casinos, this should be the year that skill-based gaming finally arrives in Las Vegas. Caesars Entertainment rolled out GameCo Inc.’s Danger Arena slot in Atlantic City in November; it makes sense that the game, which allows players to win money based on their aptitude at blasting “Danger Bots,” will show up in Las Vegas sooner rather than later. Danger Arena and other machines like it seek to blend the winning potential of a slot machine with the gameplay of a video game, an attempt by casinos to appeal to the elusive but apparently much coveted millennial market.
Another innovation that is designed to appeal to millennials, e-sports (competitive video-game play, often tournament-style with cash prizes), is expanding its Las Vegas footprint. The Downtown Grand has been offering e-sports tournaments for over a year, and the off-Strip Silver Sevens recently followed suit. Other properties will likely expand their inventory for gamers, as major tournaments continue to be staged.
One new reality of the Strip that likely won’t appeal to millennials—or anyone else outside of Uber and Lyft drivers—is the tightening grip of paid parking on the Boulevard. As of now, MGM, Wynn Las Vegas, Caesars Entertainment and The Cosmopolitan will solidify varying paid-parking programs throughout the year. Some exempt locals (for now), but absent a major consumer backlash, 2017 will be the year that we wave goodbye to a longtime perk.