The mystery Vegas casino you can only visit once every two years



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This needed to have been an easter egg in Fallout: New Vegas.


Sounds like building a casino is quite a… gamble.

I’ll see myself out


Is it just me or does this totally sound like the setup for a Tim Powers novel?


Memory bubbling up:

From '89 to '95 I went to CES and COMDEX in Las Vegas. On the first trip, the bus (taxi?) from the airport passed a big vacant lot; it might have been on Flamingo (road? avenue?); east of the strip, south side of the road. Right by the road was a sign in an Arab-ish font (I forget the name; maybe Morocco or Tangiers*) and a mock-up small sailing ship. “Cool!” I thought, “They’re building a new casino!”

The lot, sign, and ship were there for several more years, getting shabbier and shabbier.

I figure someone lost their shirt on that. Maybe the place never got its casino license; maybe there was no hope for it to get one and it was all just a scam.

*Although “Tangiers” might be the name of the non-existent casino in “CSI” where anything casino-related happens.


The Caribbean?

Caribbean Casino
In 1988, a sign for a proposed casino was erected on a fenced vacant lot on Flamingo Road. Standing near the sign was a scale model galleon. For several years, that was all that stood on the property. The empty lot was the source of many jokes by the locals until the ship, which was later damaged by a fire started by a homeless person, was torn down in the 1990s and the lot became the site of the Tuscany Suites and Casino co-owned by Charles Heers, the same man that has owned the property since the 1960s.


That has to be it! Good sleuthing.

I bet hearing “Tangiers” flung about on CSI colored my memories of the name and style.

It is really stunning how much Las Vegas has changed since I worked trade shows. A lot of the old casinos have been torn down (or blown up) since then. The new ones are a lot slicker, really phenomenally fancier, but lack a certain naive raffish charm. And also lack things like $4.95 steak dinners; the paradigm is to soak visitors for every damn thing.


I don’t like Vegas at all, but my favourite casino is Circus Circus. Not just for the Hunter S Thompson connection (why did they have to ruin the Carousel Bar?), but just the whole trippy, seedy, run down naffness of the place.

I wouldn’t stay there, mind.

Your Mandalay Bays or your Bellagios are just as depressing and exploitative, but they have that pathetic veneer of ‘luxury’ applied to them which removes all character. There’s even something to be said for the utter tastelessness of, say, Caesar’s Palace over them.

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The Brigadoon Hotel & Casino


Interesting timing for this article, as I see the Atlantic City Showboat closed down this week as well.


We stayed at Circus Circus last May, as part of a trip to Arizona. Friends recommended it as one of the most family-friendly venues, which I guess it is. I’m not a gambler, so it was a bit depressing to see working-class people losing their salaries at the table.

But yeah, it feels a bit more “colorful” in a folklore sort of way, compared to modern casinos. I think Mandalay Bay is the last one that, with all its pretense, actually had some sort of theme. The most recent ones are just huge towers that feel like upscale shopping malls.

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There are a lot of “just to keep the license” type stories around. By the time National Lampoon has stopped publishing the magazine that first made it famous, the name was far more valuable than the company’s product. So they would put out a magazine once a year, mostly filled with reprints, just to keep the name. And makers of Grade C comedies would pay in order to be able to slap the name “National Lampoon’s…” on their lame movie.

And the rights to a Fantastic 4 movie were preserved by knocking together a horrible film in a few weeks, that never got a real release. You can watch it on YouTube though.

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Oh, man, yes.

“Back in the day,” 20-25 years ago, I loved going to Vegas. Room and meals were on my employer’s nickel, and there was plenty of time to roam the Strip, collecting free souvenirs (dice, hats, shirts, messenger bags, mugs, fanny packs, decks of cards), eating ludicrously cheap snacks (Slots O’ Fun: $.99 foot long hot dogs! $.99 shrimp cocktails!) and chortling at the pretentious notions of “swank” and glamor. Plus wacky times with co-workers, like stumbling, giddy with fatigue from tearing down and packing a booth, into Binion’s at 12:30 am to have the surprising decent $1.99 steak dinner.

And the cheap spectacles and entertainment! Fake volcanoes! Pirates and British marines blasting away at each other! $10.00 comedy clubs. $5.00 dog shows!

When I went in 2010, all the crass charm was gone. They seem to be targeting hard-drinking “Bros” and conspicuous-consumption impulse buyers. Buffets used to be a few bucks. (Literally; Circus-Circus had a $1.99 breakfast buffet. It was mostly unhealthy crap, but there was quite a selection and all you can eat.) Now they start at $8.00 for breakfast. Everything is slick and upscale and joyless and controlled, like a shopping mall is joyless and controlled.


Same goes for Spider-Man: Sony is obligated to churn out reboots, no matter how ludicrous, in order to keep the rights away from Marvel Studios. Or the original comic book Watchmen, the rights to which would fully return to creator Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons the minute it goes “out of print”, so DC/Warner will keep printing and stocking it forever and ever, no matter how much money they might be losing on it in the short run.


Humanity is so shit that I have to spell it ‘FACEPLAM’!

Gotta keep that precious desert land!! It’s not like there’s any to spare or anything.


There’s another one, too:

It was originally planned to be 49 stories of hotel rooms and luxury residences, some of which were already sold long before work on the tower had a started. But in 2008, after 15 stories were built, inspectors discovered a serious problem with the building’s structural integrity: The rebar had been installed improperly, and the building’s height was slashed to 25 stories. Construction continued, and a new opening was planned for 2010. That was, until an engineering report determined that the building was likely to collapse in a major earthquake. Work ceased indefinitely.


Want to click like, but this is one of the few situations where we need a facepalm action!

Eh? Whatcha think @codinghorror?

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