The Stardust and Hilton have opened major sportsbooks, dedicating swaths of floor space to something that doesn’t draw big bucks but does bring dedicated gamblers to the property. The real money is in slot machines, which now bring in more money than table games for most casinos. High-rollers are keeping the tables ahead on the Strip, but no one can deny that slots—particularly quarter slots—are the wave of the future. The slot floor is both larger and quite different, thanks to computer-driven machines that, via the magic of virtual reels, can offer much larger prizes. International Game Technology’s Draw Poker has made video poker a casino staple, and Megabucks is letting slots offer life-changing jackpots. New table games like pai gow and sic bo show the Asian influence on casinos.
The showgirl revue has been given a face-lift. While Lido and Folies still soldier on (joined by recent arrival Jubilee! at Bally’s), a new generation of shows like Maxim’s Playboy’s Girls of Rock ’n’ Roll and Riviera’s Splash are shaking things up. For decades, magicians had been used to entertain audiences during showgirl costume changes; the Frontier’s Beyond Belief put Siegfried & Roy center stage. Headline entertainers are working limited engagements and tend to be of an older vintage. Tribute and female-impersonator shows are still thriving, and theater occupies a small niche, with Ain’t Misbehavin at the Sahara and Natalie Needs a Nightie at the Union Plaza.
Lounges have maintained their dominant role here, although it’s rare to see a performer with a national reputation (Sam Butera at Tropicana’s Atrium Lounge and the Treniers at Flamingo Hilton’s casino lounge are exceptions). Mostly, it’s piano (as at the Marina’s Crow’s Nest Lounge or anyone at Claudine’s Piano Bar) or talented local performers, like Class Act (the Holiday’s Atrium Lounge) or Starfire (the Hilton’s casino lounge). Good luck finding disco anywhere.