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In The Spotlight Don’t Get Fooled Again: “Identical” video poker machines might have very important differences The Best of Slots Awards 2022: Our annual review of your favorite casinos for slots

6 Publisher’s Message Words of Wisdom by Lisa Robertson-Dziedzic 8 Players Talk You asked—we answered! 10 The Buzz Our coast-to-coast roundup of gaming’s hottest news 16 Strip Search Seasonal décor and festive fun spreads holiday cheer throughout Las Vegas by Steve Kieva 18 Scobe Speaks Leisurely Casino Games: Slow and steady wins the race by Frank Scoblete 36 Slot Payout Percentages State-by-state breakdown of slot machine payouts

41 Winners Lucky jackpot hits from casinos across the country 42 Playing in the Spotlight Entertainment listings from casinos nationwide

Expert Advice Video Poker Myths: Exploring a few of the common video poker misconceptions

Get Social!

50 Player of the Month

Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @CasinoPlayerPub for special offers, discounts and exclusive information

Mattress Mack hauls in massive win and plunks down $500K on NCAA Championship

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FEATURES 30 WINNING AT THREE CARD POKER The story behind the game, and smart strategies for beating the house by Basil Nestor 32 THE NUMBERS GAME When it comes to poker, know your strategy and betting amount by Jim Feist 34 CELEBRITY CRUISES UPS THE ANTE ON THE ULTIMATE GAMING VACATION

T H E G AME S WE P L AY PLAYING THE MACHINES 20 Back to Basics: The mechanical reel-spinning

PLAYING POKER 24 Russell Crowe debuts

slot machine continues to prove itself popular

new poker film, high-stakes poker tour returns to Borgata and Phil Ivey named WPT Ambassador by Sean Chaffin PLAYING THE BOOKS 28 Betting the Favorite: The NFL season heats up, World Cup madness, California sports betting

with players by Frank Legato

PLAYING TABLES 22 The Spice of Life: Even dedicated players need a backup plan by John Grochowski 23 In search of the best blackjack and video poker games in America

comes up flat by Sean Chaffin


Words of Wisdom

I frequently ask readers to share their comments and experiences about a wide range of gambling topics.The list has included game strategy, favorite slots, best (and worst) casino trips, biggest wins and more.The response has been more than I expected,as readers have stepped up in droves to share their unique stories. Last month, I received a letter from a reader asking about the rules when it comes to card counting while playing blackjack and posed the question: “Isn’t it true that blackjack is a skill game, and a player cannot be arrested for counting cards, rather it’s a policy of the casino to escort you out?” So, what does happen if someone is caught card counting in a casino?To get to the bottom of the question, I reached out to blackjack expert Don Schlesinger for insight into the reader’s query. For those of you who don’t know, Don is the leading authority when it comes to the game of blackjack.He is a gaming mathematician,author, lecturer,player and member of the Blackjack Hall of Fame,and his work in the field has spanned more than four decades. Here’s what he had to say: There is a range of possibilities, varying in severity, so let’s start with the most lenient. If a casino determines that you are counting cards, it’s quite possible (although not very likely these days) that they will do nothing at all, choosing instead to continue to monitor your play over time. It is said that many casinos have what is com monly referred to as a“choke point,”which is that amount of money they will permit a counter to win before “pulling him up,”or ending his play.And, clearly, that amount will vary from one casino to an other. If you will permit a personal anecdote, for many years, I used to play the Riviera’s very fine double-deck game in LasVegas.After a while, it became apparent to me that they realized I was counting. And yet, they never stopped me from playing. I had a personal philosophy of winning“tastefully,”which was not to try to win all the money I could at any one playing session but rather to limit the time of my sessions (usually an hour or less) and never to attempt to get even if time was up and I was losing.Booking losses is a good strat egy for counters. Much more likely, however, is that, if a casino detects you as a card counter, they will bar you from playing any more blackjack. The great majority of barrings these days are quite civil in nature, because many major casinos are owned by large, public corpora tions, and they can’t risk the adverse publicity and potentially huge lawsuits that might ensue from a rude or physically intimidating barring or“back-rooming,”as was more customary in the older days, when manyVegas casinos were run by the Mob.So, a“polite”barring goes something like this: A pit boss, a shift manager, or even the casino manager, walks up behind you while you are playing and asks you politely to please take your chips and step away from the table.He or she then tells you that they have determined your play is

“too strong”and that they have no edge playing against you, so you may no longer play blackjack in their casino.They may add that you are more than welcome to play all their other games and frequent their restaurants, but no more blackjack. Sometimes, this conversa tion takes place at the casino cage, as you attempt to cash out your chips. The style varies by casino. Consider yourself “backed off” and leave the casino. Finally, there is the much more aggressive form of permanent barring that is a trespassing. Here, you are asked to sign a paper (which they can’t force you to do and that you should decline) acknowledging that not only may you no longer play blackjack in their casino (and perhaps any other casinos owned by the same chain/corporation), but should you return, you will be arrested for trespassing.I won’t get into the legalities in my response, but it is gen erally acknowledged that the best way to react in these circumstances is to be very calm, never touch a security guard or any officer who may accompany the casino representative, lest you be falsely accused of assault, and simply walk out the front door peacefully and quietly. Should you be asked for ID, you are not legally required to furnish it, except if asked by local law enforcement.You should simply state, “I’m going to leave now,”and keep walking out the front door. Readers should understand that there are entire books written on these topics, such as Blackjack and the Law (by Robert Loeb), so the above is simply a very cursory review of what can happen if some one is caught counting cards in a casino. At the end of the day, the casino wants your business.And while card counting is frowned upon in the casino and may get you banned, a card counter still needs luck to win, even with the odds ever so slightly skewed in their direction.Before you ask yourself if card count ing is legal or not, you should make sure you learn optimal blackjack strategy or your gameplay will result in nothing as you will still not have the edge over the house. Finally,over the past year,I’ve had the honor not only to help guide the voice of Casino Player magazine, but to use my platform as pub lisher and editorial director to speak directly to our readers. It has been an honor and a privilege presenting the magazine to you month after month, answering your letters and helping you track down the best games, places to play, promotions and more, so keep them coming! With that,we bid farewell to 2022.With all of the exciting changes and innovation in the gaming industry this past year, it’s been a great year for gaming enthusiasts—one that’s gonna be tough to beat. I can only imagine what new gaming wonders 2023 will bring us.Stay tuned and happy holidays!

Cheers to good health, good luck and winning days! Lisa Robertson-Dziedzic Publisher & Editorial Director

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Casino Player America’s Premier Gaming Magazine print • mobile • online VOLUME 33 • ISSUE 7 P R E S I D ENT & CH I E F E X E CU T I V E OF F I C E R Derek James P UB L I S H E R & E D I TOR I A L D I R E C TOR Lisa Robertson-Dziedzic P R O D U C T I O N D I R E C T O R Diane Stevens-Gillan S E N I O R E D I T O R S Sean Chaffin


The Risk of Staying Too Long I usually do pretty well in the casino. My prob lem is, I never seem to leave a winner—or at least, not leaving with as much as I should. Here’s a recent example of what I’m talking about. Last week, I won a solid $3,565 jackpot thanks to a great hit on a video poker game— Ultimate X.I had been playing for about an hour and a half when I hit, and at that point I was down about $600.That win was a great shot in the arm, made even more thrilling because I was almost out of money for the night. Now I had a decision to make: do I leave ahead nearly $3,000, or do I keep playing, hoping to win more and have fun doing it?You can probably guess what happened. I decided to stay and play a little longer since I now had a sizable bankroll.Plus, this could be the start of a winning streak and I wanted to take the most advantage of it. That didn’t happen. I played video poker a little longer and got nothing. Lost $400. I decided to switch things up and went to try a few slots. I lost $200 on one machine, $300 on the next, and another $300 on the third. I went back to my video poker machine and dropped another $400.This sort of thing went on for a while. I’d hit a little bit, but eventually lose more and more. In the end I left a winner, but instead of being ahead about $3,000 I went home with just about a $900 profit. Was I wrong to continue playing? Should I have left immediately? I won for the night, but what I put back stings.And it’s not the first time it’s happened.What’s your advice? —M.D. West Palm Beach, FL

The short answer is that it is okay to play a little longer after winning. But what you did sounds more like an excited frenzy—the thought that you’re fat with cash and unstop pable. You need a more reasoned approach to playing and managing your money. Gambling’s tough. It’s risky.And by and large the house has a much, much better chance of being the winner in any encounter than you do. So when you’re ahead, especially by a decent amount, it’s not to be taken lightly or frivolously. Good advice for the circumstance you describe, as soon as you had the money in hand, put the bulk of it in your pocket—about 70 percent—never to be seen again while in the casino. (Some players will take half of the money and put the rest at risk, but a more conservative 70 percent is a better approach if you’d like to keep the bulk of your winnings.) So in this situation, you would be playing with 30 percent of $3,000, or $900. That amount of money affords you the freedom to continue playing while locking in a nice profit. If you win more, great. If not, you still leave the casino with more of those hard fought winnings instead of the stinging pain of regret. Bingo Program With electronic bingo,can the jackpot game be pre-programmed so that the jackpot will not be won until they choose for it to be won? —Shirley G. Via the Internet John Grochowski responds: Electronic bingo numbers are drawn randomly and the operator has no control over when the winning patterns will appear. That applies regardless of whether you’re talking about tra ditional-style bingo on electronic cards, or Class II slot machines where the game is really electronic bingo but the screen displays a slot style interface. Regardless of the style of game, more than one person has to be playing. Bingo games are not banked by the house.Winners are paid from a pool of wagers made by all players on the system.On each machine, bingo numbers are delivered by a central server that is linked to all machines.But the house has no control over which numbers are drawn and delivered.

Karrie L. Zukowski C O P Y E D I T O R Lon Rozelle

Jack Clayton John Grochowski Steve Kieva Frank Legato Kara Miller Jack Clayton John Grochowski Steve Kieva Frank Legato Kara Miller

Patrick Roberts Frank Scoblete Jerry “Stickman” Stich Tim Wassberg Sharon Harris-Zlotnick Patrick Roberts Frank Scoblete Jerry “Stickman” Stich Tim Wassberg Sharon Harris-Zlotnick


N AT I O N A L S A L E S D I R E C T O R Karrie L. Zukowski A C C O U N T I N G M A N A G E R Jocelyn James C I R C U L AT I O N M A R K E T I N G D I R E C T O R Maureen Robertson C I R C U L AT I O N D I R E C T O R Jessica Taylor C U S T OM E R S E R V I C E CUSTOMER SERVICE: 800-969-0711 O F F I C E S ATLANTIC CITY: 333 E. Jimmie Leeds Rd., Suite 7 Galloway, NJ 08205-4123 (609) 484-8866 • Fax (609) 645-1661 LAS VEGAS: 1137 S. Rancho Drive, Suite 110 Las Vegas, NV 89102-2259 (702) 736-8886 • Fax (702) 736-8889 Casino Player (ISSN 0001-8152) Casino Player is published twelve times a year, one issue per month, by Casino Player Publishing, LLC. 333 E. Jimmie Leeds Rd., Suite 7 Galloway, NJ 08205-4123 BASIC SUBSCRIPTIONS Basic subscription prices do not include shipping & handling. Subscriptions: one year (12 issues) $24; two years (24 issues) $37; three years (36 issues) $53. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Casino Player, 333 E. Jimmie Leeds Rd., Suite 7, Galloway, NJ 08205-4123 Periodicals postage paid at Galloway, NJ, and at additional mailing offices. © 2022 Casino Player Publishing, LLC. All Rights Reserved. No portion of this publication can be reproduced without expressed written permission of the Publisher. Casino Player magazine is a publication of Casino Player Publishing, LLC owned by Casino Player Media (CPM). Not responsible for typographical errors. READER’S ADVISORY: Readers are recommended to make ap propriate inquiries and take appropriate advice before sending monies, incurring expense, entering into any binding commit ment, or wagering any sum in relation to an adver tisement, ar ti cle, column or other feature published in Casino Player. Casino Player shall not be liable to any person for loss or damage in curred or suffered as a result of his/her accepting, offering to ac cept, or following an invitation, advice, or other recommendation contained in any adver tisement, ar ticle, column, or feature pub lished in Casino Player . The views and opinions expressed by the writers and columnists of this magazine are not necessarily representative of the views of its management and employees. BET WITH YOUR HEAD, NOT OVER IT! PROBLEM GAMBLING? CALL 800-552-4700 Samantha Cooper I T D I R E C T O R Robert Walden

QUESTIONS, COMMENTS? WE WANT TO KNOW! E-MAIL US! or write to: Letters to the Editor 333 E. Jimmie Leeds Rd., Suite 7 Galloway, New Jersey 08205

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Roulette Machine I have been a subscriber of Casino Player for some time now.Thank you so much for all the tips you have provided to your readers for all the games on the casino floor. I visit LasVegas three to four times a year and play different table games and video poker and slot machines.The game that I love most of all is roulette.Although I know that the house edge is higher on this game I still love playing it. I enjoy the thrill and excite ment of the game. I always played table roulette but from my first visit I played the roulette machine.There’s not a lot of this game but I was able to find several at Palazzo andVe netian. Venetian used to have a single zero roulette machine. I played the roulette machine atVenetian and my initial playing money was $150. I’d been betting on 25 single numbers for a total of $25 for half an hour, hitting re-bet all the time. It was hit and miss but I was up to about $250.All of a sudden I saw the roulette spin counter clockwise and from then on it mostly missed on my numbers. My question is,do you think the program on the roulette machine can remember my numbers and readjust itself so I would not be hitting the same numbers? I would really appreciate any input that you can give on this. Thank you so much for your time. —Robert West Covina, CA No, the machine does not remember your numbers and adjust to go into any losing streak mode.Virtual roulette machines are subject to the same randomness require ments as any other electronic gaming devices. In order for the game to be licensed, it has to pass gaming lab inspection and be certified for randomness. Remembering your numbers and fixing the wheel to avoid them is illegal, and a device that can do that would not be certified. Hot and cold streaks are just consequences of normal probability. Over a very long time, any such streaks will fade into statistical insignificance, and the house will collect a percentage very close to the house edge. Casinos count on that.Anything can happen in the short term, but the casino is in it for the long haul and knows it will profit as long as the games are random.

Busting Out What is it about blackjack that makes players bust so much more often than dealers? There must be a cause. It can’t all be luck. —Jake F. Via theWeb Actually, players bust less often than deal ers—a LOT less. In a common six-deck game, dealers bust about 29 percent of the time if they stand on all 17s, and just under 30 percent if they hit soft 17.Basic strategy players bust about 16 percent of the time. That’s because players hit fewer hands than dealers do. If you have 16 and the dealer has a 6 face up, you can stand. If the dealer has 16, he has to hit, no matter what the players have. It can seem like you bust more often, because every time you bust, you lose. The dealer can bust and lose to some players, but all the players who already have busted still lose.That’s where the house edge comes from in blackjack: Players risk going bust before the dealer hand is played. Players don’t bust more than dealers. Player busts just hurt more. Three-Card Mystery Maybe I’m just late to the party here—why do straights beat flushes inThree Card Poker? —Anonymous Via theWeb The probabilities are different in three-card hands than in five-card hands.In Three Card Poker, you’re dealt flushes an average of once per 22.1 hands, and straights once per 30.7 hands.That makes straights the rarer hands, so they outrank flushes. In five-card stud poker games, straights are nearly twice as common as flushes—1 in 256 hands vs. 1 in 509—so flushes out rank straights. Late Bonus Could you please tell me something about slot machine odds and bonuses? I was play ing for a while and it seemed like the bonus wasn’t happening very often. I spotted a guy with a name tag that said slot supervisor, and asked him how often the bonus was’sup-

posed to come up.He said no set time,but he thought the average was about once in 80 plays. I went back to play and counted. It took 224 spins before I went to the bonus. How is that even possible if it’s supposed to come up once per 80?Thank you. —Anonymous Via theWeb Results are random, and every result is pos sible on every spin. If the odds are 1 in 80 of going to the bonus round when you start, they’re still 1 in 80 if you’ve gone 80 spins without a bonus, or 100 spins, or 224 spins. Over a very long time, the odds of the game will lead toward about 1 spin per 80 taking you to the bonus round. To illustrate, I’m going to make up an oversimplified example. Imagine you were rolling an 80-sided die, with spaces numbered 1 through 79 and one space marked“BONUS!” You could have a chart giving you a slot reel combination for each number.No.1 could be five ravens, No. 2 five unmatched symbols, and so on.When the die landed on BONUS!, you’d get to play a separate game to accumulate extra credits. The first time you rolled, chances would be equal of the die landing on each space. The second time you rolled, your actions would be exactly the same, and the chances for each space would still be equal. No matter how many times you rolled and how long you went without a bonus, you’d still be starting from scratch on the next roll. If you rolled 224 times without a bonus, the chances on the next would still be 1 in 80. Slot machines are more complex with many more possible outcomes. Instead of one face among 80 on a die, one-eightieth of thousands—or even millions, in the case of big jackpot games—of combinations will take you to the bonus. You are a 79-1 underdog of going to the bonus on each spin.That makes long bonus less streaks not only possible, but inevitable. There’s a flip side. Given enough chances, multiple bonus events within a few spins also are not only possible, but inevitable.

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S L Green Realty Corp. and Caesars Entertainment announced a partnership on Oct. 20 to redevelop 1515 Broadway as a premier entertainment and gaming destination in the heart of Times Square in NewYork City, one of the most visited des tinations in the world. Caesars Palace Times Square will not only provide billions in tax revenue to NewYork City and the state, it will also accelerate NewYork’s economic recovery through strategic part nerships with area businesses utilizing its industry-leading loyalty program Caesars Rewards, home to more than 65 million members. Caesars Rewards members will be able to use credits at Broadway shows, local hotels, restaurants, retail stores, comedy clubs, entertainment ven ues and more,driving more tourists to area businesses and creating thou sands of direct and indirect jobs in and aroundTimes Square. In addition to major economic benefits to all Times Square stake holders, SL Green and Caesars are proposing significant security and traf fic improvements as part of their proposal, which would boost Mayor Adams and the NYPD’s efforts inTimes Square.These efforts will make visitors feel safer, improve mass transit, encourage pedestrian travel, and mitigate vehicle congestion in the area, pursuant to a proposed traffic plan to be included as part of the project. Caesars PalaceTimes Square will be designed to include a Broadway theater for The Lion King .The development will also bring Caesars Entertainment’s more than 50 years of globally recognized excellence in entertainment,food & beverage and gaming to NewYork to deliver a best in-class experience that will be authentic and complementary to the Times Square entertainment district. “We believe that Times Square offers the best location for a new resort casino that can attract tourists and benefit local businesses.We’re excited to pursue this license with Caesars and our many local partners. Our approach will ensure that under-represented communities benefit both in terms of employment and investment opportunities,” said Marc Holliday,CEO of SL Green.“A casino inTimes Square is in keeping with existing uses in the area.Times Square is the center of the entertainment universe. Because we are proposing a renovation, once the license is issued,we can open quicker than other facilities,which require entirely new construction, changes in law, and will be disruptive to their local communities.” “Caesars is thrilled to partner with SL Green in connection with a five-star project that will meet and exceed NewYorkers’expectations for world-class entertainment, immediately enhancing New York City’s tourism engine and elevating this one-of-a-kind global destination to new heights,” saidTom Reeg, CEO of Caesars.“As one of the largest mobile sports books in NewYork, Caesars is passionate about NewYork itself.

Caesars is also deeply invested in NewYork-based restaurant groups,chefs, and entertainers from across the Empire State.” “Carmine’s has been in business inTimes Square for over 30 years, and the public-private investments that were made in the late ’90s and early 2000s literally transformed Midtown,” said Jeffrey Bank, president and CEO of theAlicart Restaurant Group,which operates Carmine’s and Virgil’s BBQ.“It is time for us to reinvest again.Times Square is the beat ing heart of NewYork, but everyone inTimes Square is still hurting from the pandemic.The Caesars Palace proposal is the key to bringing tourists back, making Times Square safer, and is exactly the economic driver we need to not only recover but continue to grow and create more jobs.” “A trip to NewYork isn’t complete without a visit toTimes Square— it’s the crossroads of the world,”said Geoff Ballotti,president and CEO at Wyndham Hotels & Resorts,which franchises 38 hotels in Manhattan and the great state of NewYork.“A project of this scale and scope will help bring more tourists back toTimes Square, fill hotel rooms not only here, but all across the city, and create great jobs at the same time.” “We know how to bring crime rates down inTimes Square because we’ve done it before.With better security infrastructure and 24/7 moni toring, we can anticipate and prevent crime—we just need the financial and political willpower to do so,” said former New York City Police CommissionerWilliam Bratton.“SL Green and Caesars’proposal forTimes Square goes beyond routine, in-house security and would invest millions in a new public-private safety initiative.This investment will ensureTimes Square is safe for years to come.” Caesars is the largest North American gaming operator, with more than 50 casino properties across its portfolio, retail and/or mobile sports betting in 27 jurisdictions,and iGaming in five jurisdictions.Caesars Palace Times Square will be 100% privately funded.Caesars will license its brand and manage the operations under a long-term management contract.

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T he Season of Giving returns at Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City to recog nize and assist several non-profit businesses across the greater Atlantic City region. Ocean will provide more than $40,000 in significant gifts, assis tance and donations impacting multiple causes of community

concern—including food insecurity, homelessness, youth support, education, family services and health and wellness—through the end of the year.

Enchant on The Strip Dazzles Las Vegas

Ocean is not limiting its season of giving to just the community, however, as it has several promotions and offers for casino guests to enjoy, highlighted by a $1 Million Sweepstakes from Dec. 25 through Jan. 1.With over 1,400 winners over eight days, there’s no better way to cap off 2022 than by winning your share of $1 million. Additional promotions throughout November and Decem ber include a $100,000Amazon Gift Card Sweepstakes, a $200,000 Sweepstakes overThanksgiving weekend and a variety of free play and multiplier events. Sleigh bells will be ringing, snow will be glistening and lights will be twinkling as the holiday spirit takes over Ocean Casino Resort once again. Located at 1927 Lounge, just steps from the casino floor, the Jingle Bell Bar: A Holiday Pop-up Experience returns to bring festive cock tails, nostalgic décor and themed entertainment. Experi ence the magic with friends and family, creating new holiday memories as you snap selfies, sing out loud and spread cheer for all to hear this year at Jingle Bell Bar. Ocean will ring in the NewYear with British music icons Duran Duran and their Future Past tour coming to Ovation Hall on Friday,Dec. 30.The GrammyAward– winning new wave icons are consistently fusing art, technology, fashion and a signature sense of style with their unique and infectious brand of timeless music sure to ignite theAtlantic City crowd.

R esorts World Las Vegas welcomed Enchant on the Strip, this year’s newest holiday spectacular, with an inaugural tree lighting ceremony in Novem ber. Kicking off the holiday season, execu tives from Resorts World Las Vegas and Enchant were joined by invited guests as they gathered to witness the incredible 100 foot-tall tree come to life at the stunning park located in front of the Strip’s newest resort. Enchant OnThe Strip is a must-see des tination this holiday season. The 217,000 square-foot immersive winter wonderland

includes a one-of-a-kind walk-thru light maze experience, four million lights, a 100-foot-tall holiday tree,17,000-square-foot ice skating rink, live entertainment, Santa visits, interactive games and a holiday marketplace featuring local artisans. Adding to the excitement, ResortsWorld curated a culinary menu exclusive to Enchant onThe Strip,which features warm and comforting fare like brats,pret zels, clam chowder, holiday treats and more.Nationally sponsored by the Hall mark Channel, the popular television network offers a variety of branded experiences throughout the space including the Hallmark Channel Holiday House for guests to relax and recharge, photo opportunities, and a chance for guests to win a trip to the set of a Hallmark Channel movie.Enchant onThe Strip is open to the public through Jan. 1. For more information,

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M Resort Spa Casino, operated by PENN Entertainment, recently announced a $206 million expansion adding a second tower to the award-winning Henderson resort. The M Resort expansion project will add approximately 384 rooms, bringing its total to 774 rooms and suites. Along with the additional guest rooms and suites, M Resort will also expand its meeting space, update amenities, and announce additional local partnerships later. Designed by Marnell Architecture, the M Resort Spa Casino expansion and second resort tower project is slated to begin construction in 2023. In anticipation of the holiday season,Snow Carnival Holiday Forest

welcomes guests of all ages with a one-of-a-kind winter-themed attrac tion celebrating the holiday season.A gentle flurry of snowflakes greets visitors as they are welcomed into a world of more than 350 tons of real snow both falling from above and coating the ground in an inviting blan ket. To keep the magic of the picturesque winter wonderland alive, 50 tons of fresh snow is added throughout the indoor Snow Carnival engagement each day. From snowball throwing to snowman building, this celebratory attraction offers a variety of seasonal favorites.Coast down the snowy inclines of the “Mini Matterhorn” snow slide, visit the Candy Cane forest, or stop by a snow play area for winter games and more.

S ahara Las Vegas celebrated its historic 70-year anniversary in October with the official debut of “70 Years of Extraordinary Images: Sahara’s History in Photographs,”an exhibition spanning the resort’s history and noteworthy milestones from 1952 to the present day.The collection of iconic images sourced from the Las Vegas Convention andVisitorsAuthority (LVCVA) archive includes vintage images of dazzling entertainers and global superstars, including Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly, Elvis Presley,The Beatles, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and Frank Sinatra, among many other notable guests at Sahara. Since developer Milton Prell opened the property on Oct. 7, 1952, Sahara has undergone several expansions and trans formations. The property’s first expansion to add additional hotel rooms took place in 1954 and two new hotel towers were built in 1960 and 1963, and a third tower was added in 1988. In 2011, the property underwent a redevelopment as SLS Las Vegas before reopening in 2014. In 2017,Alex Meruelo and his company,Meruelo Gaming, announced the purchase of the SLS Las Vegas and its rebranding to Sahara Las Vegas. Since its grand reopening in 2019, Sahara Las Vegas has been completely reimagined thanks to a $200 million renovation. Sahara Las Vegas Celebrates 70-Year Anniversary

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MGM RESORTS UNVEILS EPIC BELLAGIO FOUNTAINS GRANDSTANDS FOR FORMULA 1 HEINEKEN SILVER LAS VEGAS GRAND PRIX 2023 M GM Resorts International will construct one of the world’s most exclusive live sports-viewing experiences for the Formula 1 Heineken Silver Las Vegas Grand Prix 2023, Grandstands or Paddock Grandstands, and a three-night stay at partici pating MGM Resorts properties including Bellagio,ARIA,Vdara, MGM Grand,Mandalay Bay,Delano,Park MGM,NewYork-NewYork,Luxor and Excalibur. Up to two race tickets can be purchased per package and a minimum three-night stay is required. Food and non-alcoholic bever ages within the grandstands are included. offering guests the opportunity to witness the race from grandstands built on the Bellagio lake where the resort’s iconic Fountains dance daily. Access to these epic seats is currently only available as part of MGM Resorts’ race-and-stay packages featuring unprecedented con venience for Formula 1 fans to stay just steps from the action.Packages are now available for purchase only at Packages include a three-day race ticket at either the Bellagio

“In just over a year,F1 fans from around the globe will see how Las Vegas throws a party,” said Steve Zanella, MGM Resorts’ chief commer cial officer.“In addition to the Bellagio Grandstands,which will set new standards for event viewing, we will create a round-the-clock celebra tion worthy of this international spectacular.” MGM Resorts’ Race Day package options include: Bellagio Grandstands:A first-of-its-kind F1 race-day experience, the Bellagio Grandstands will feature stunning seats overlooking the track as the renowned Fountains dance nearby.This premium package will give fans the view of a lifetime and an only-in-Vegas experience. Currently, only guests purchasing an MGM Resorts room package will have access to this unrivaled location. Paddock Grandstands:The Paddock Grandstands will serve as a central point of the Las Vegas Strip Circuit and treat fans to the specta cle of the start and finish line, plus behind-the-scenes views of the pit lane and team garages. Additional details on MGM Resorts’ events surrounding the Formula 1 Heineken Silver LasVegas Grand Prix 2023 will be announced over the coming months.Follow@MGMResortsIntl for updates through out the year or visit

Sign of the Times The first of eight refurbished and historic neon signs has been installed as part of the continuing Las Vegas Boulevard Improvement Project. The signs are owned by the city of Las Vegas, The Neon Museum and Young Electric Sign Company and will be installed over the next several months. The signs will join the existing eight classic neon signs already installed in the Las Vegas Boulevard median from Sahara Avenue to just north of Washington Avenue. The signs cele brate the history of vintage Vegas, beautify a world-famous roadway and create a neon trail to The Neon Museum. All eight of the neon signs will be officially lit next spring to celebrate the completion of the $125 million Las Vegas Boulevard Improvement Project. The Par-A-Dice Motel sign is the first of the new signs to be installed just north of Oakey Boulevard on Las Vegas Boulevard.

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas… The holidays are here and casinos across America are spreading festive cheer

From the twinkling lights and sky-high Christmas tree

to the smell of holiday treats at the Ginger bread Village, Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, NY, is the perfect winter wonderland to experience the magic of the season.

Enjoy a little holiday cheer and hundreds of state-of-the-art slots and a wide variety of classic table games at Palace Casino Resort (l.), the only smoke free casino in Biloxi, MS.

The Jingle Bell Bar: A Holiday Pop-up Experience (below) returns to Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City, bringing festive cocktails, nostalgic décor and themed entertainment to guests look ing for some spirited holiday magic.

Ice skating is back at Foxwoods Resort Casino . Nestled behind The Fox Tower, the Foxwoods Rink and Winter Terrace is a winter favorite. Skate in the cool air, surrounded by the warmth of thousands of holiday lights.Take the party inside the themed heated igloos, accompanied by food and drink menus. The Rink is open through March 2023.

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Guests walk through a fantastical snowy gingerbread village,designed in stun ning detail,and comprised of five miniature shops and a chapel. Towering over the village is the centerpiece of theWest Bed, a majestic 42-foot-tall fresh-cut white fir tree from California’s Mt. Shasta. Elegantly deco rated with 10,000 twinkling lights and 8,700 sparkling red, gold, silver and white ornaments, the tree is crowned with a giant glimmering Swarovski crystal tree topper and is surrounded by fragrant fir trees of

C apturing the sights, smells, sounds and now tastes of the holiday sea son, Bellagio’s Conservatory & Botanical Gardens has unveiled a new holiday display titled,“Gingerbread Dreams, a Holiday Con fection,” inviting visitors to celebrate the sweetest and most wonderful time of the year. Now through January 1, the new win ter display is decked in holiday-trimmed botanicals and giant pastry elements, fea turing a 42-foot-tall white fir tree sparkling

various sizes also illuminated with lights. The festive display also features three giant stunning bejeweled eggs that harken back to the famed collectibles by the renowned House of Fabergé, a charming life-sized gingerbread-style cottage intricately deco rated with faux candy, gumdrops, peppermints, cookies and icing com plete with a billowing chimney and a cozy kitchen bustling with six hard-working Bellagio elves (an homage to Bellagio’s Pastry team) joy fully baking gingerbread cookies with a towering wood-burning stove at the ready. Nearby, five playful Coca-Cola polar bears are warmed by a giant fireplace topped with a large gingerbread clock that chimes every hour.

with thousands of lights nestled among a snowy holiday village, a cozy gingerbread cottage and a bakeshop complete with elves and polar bear helpers.The display engages all five senses as a custom scent,“Ginger bread Dreams,” fills the air with notes of clove, cinnamon, vanilla and apple and a soothing holiday soundtrack sets the mood for guests to embark on their journey. For the first time, the Conservatory will offer sweet holiday treats for sale baked by Bellagio’s talented pastry chefs. “For this exhibit,we continue to push the envelope by utilizing and incorporating classic and time-honored holiday themes with an innova tive and imaginative approach,” said Designer Ed Libby.“Guests will feel like they’ve stepped into a delicious and fanciful world filled with magi cal characters, sugary sweet confections and holiday wonders around every corner.”

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■ by Steve Kieva

Clockwise from left to right: The Ice Rink at The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas, Linq Promenade and Mystic Falls Park at Sam’s Town Hotel and Gambling Hall.

A Few of Our Favorite Things Seasonal décor and festive fun spreads holiday cheer throughout Las Vegas

T here’s no place like LasVegas for the holidays, as festive decora tions and jolly events usher in the celebratory season. Locally cherished and brand-new winter wonderland displays pop up throughout the destination, making Vegas an ideal spot to take in the sights and sounds of the holidays. Visitors can ice skate on more than 4,200 square feet of real ice at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, as it brings back The Ice Rink at the resort’s Boulevard Pool. Running through Monday, Jan. 2, the space also features opportunities to roast s’mores at fire pits,seasonal cocktails,clas sic holiday films on its marquee and breathtaking rooftop views sur rounded by vibrant city lights. A longtime local tradition, the Holiday Cactus Garden at Ethel M Chocolates features millions of sparkling holiday lights across three acres of desert landscaping.The experience, running through Sunday, Jan.1, is complete with sweet treats, hot chocolate and visits from the Great Big

Man in Red—and in the spirit of giving,each entrance fee collected will be donated to local charities within the valley: Help of Southern Ne vada and Three Square Food Bank. Visitors can enjoy a display of over 5 million holiday lights without leaving their car at Glittering Lights at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The drive-through spectacle runs through Sunday, Jan. 8,with a portion of each ticket benefitting Speedway Children’s Charities,a group of over 50 children’s charities in Southern Nevada. The LINQ Promenade is decked out for the holiday season through the NewYear with light displays and a towering, 30-foot tree. Mystic Falls Park at Sam’s Town Hotel and Gambling Hall trans forms into a winter wonderland fromWednesday,Nov. 23, through Sun day, Jan.1.The attraction and display will feature festive décor (including an 18-foot Christmas tree), more than 26,000 lights and a nine-minute holiday laser light show set to a variety of classic yuletide songs.

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A Dinner, A Show and An Assault I like surprising people, especially my wife Dorene. I was able to get twoVIP tickets to Lionel Richie in Las Vegas on July 2. I also booked reservations for two at the award-winning SW Steakhouse at Wynn Las Vegas. My wife knew about the dinner but not about seeing Lionel Richie. The dinner at SW Steakhouse was outstanding. SW is known for prime aged steaks and a curated selection of certified Japanese and domesticWagyu are the stars at the Forbes Travel Guide Four Star seakhouse.ThinkA5 Japanese Wagyu, dry-aged tomahawk chops and a chile-rubbed dou ble rib eye, featured on Food Network’s Best Thing I Ever Ate .Main courses like pan-roasted sea scallops with English pea risotto and black truffle sauce are crowd favorites, as is the prime view of the nightly shows on the Lake of Dreams. Our server Chris was outstanding.Our entrees of Roasted Branzino and 12-oz. fillet were delicious. But the surprise was revealed in the dessert. A cake was brought to our table with the words“You’re Going to See Lionel Richie”written on it.Dorene was very surprised. Lionel Richie is known for his mega-hits such as “Endless Love,”“Lady,”“Truly,”“All Night Long,”“Penny Lover,” “Stuck onYou,”“Hello,”“SayYou, Say Me,”“Dancing on the Ceiling,”and co-wrote one of the most important pop songs in history,“WeAre theWorld,” for USA for Africa,which closed the show before an encore. Richie also included his early work withThe Commodores,where he developed a groundbreaking style that defied genre categories, penning smashes such as“ThreeTimes a Lady,”“Still”and“Easy.” He is an amazing performer.The show was fantastic but not without the most bizarre incident I personally have ever encountered in Las Vegas. I’m not psychic but I can spot who will be a problem at a concert or event just by looking at them.While in line for the show I see a man acting up and obviously a bit tipsy. I pointed him out to my wife saying,“This guy is going to be trouble.” Guess where his seat was? Right behind me. During the concert he is constantly kicking the back of my chair. I’m 73 and this guy is a monster.He was at least 6’ 5”and 280 pounds.Note to self—avoid a physical con frontation at all costs. I turn around and give him the evil eye stare.Things are calm but not for long. He then starts slapping me on the back of my head and neck for no reason several times. I left and contacted security,who moved us to different seats.The showroom manager then came to our seats and asked me if I wanted to press charges but I declined. I’m sure this would have led to an ugly confrontation and probably ruined the concert for a lot of other people. They allowed the unruly guy to stay but kept close tabs on him.You could hear him being vocally loud the rest of the show. I was upset at this incident but I did not let it ruin the concert for me. I guess the saying,“Discretion is the Better Part of Valor”applied to this incident?

ONStage Before Hamilton or In the Heights there was Freestyle Love Supreme F rom producer Lin-Manuel Miranda and fresh from Broadway, Freestyle Love Supreme brings hip-hop improv to The Venetian Resort Las Vegas, which re cently opened insideThe Summit Showroom on Nov. 10. Recipient of a 2020 Spe cial Tony Award, Freestyle Love Supreme , directed by Thomas Kail, is a non-stop blend of hip-hop, improvisational comedy,music and vocal stylings.The cast of tal ented performers will provide non-stop action throughout the 90-minute show, spinning suggestions from the audience into humorous bits, instantaneous songs and riffs, and fully realized musical numbers.No two shows are ever the same.The electrifying vocals of the performers—from singing to rapping to beat-boxing with harmonies and freestyle flow—are backed by tight tunes from keyboards and human percussion. Conceived by Anthony Veneziale and created by Thomas Kail, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Anthony Veneziale, Freestyle Love Supreme pays homage to John Coltrane’s“A Love Supreme,”with a nod to musical roots in jazz, soul,blues and hip-hop. Performances runWednesdays–Sundays. Donny Osmond Extends Award-Winning Las Vegas Residency

L egendary entertainer and music icon Donny Osmond has extended his award-winning solo residency inside Harrah’s LasVegas Showroom at Har rah’s LasVegas into 2023.Osmond’s show is a dynamic, energy-filled musical journey of his unparalleled life as one of the most recognized entertainers in the world. Fans are treated to engaging performances throughout the show including the fan favorite and show stopping

“Auto-rap-ography”—a rap song accompanied by milestone photos and videos from his impressive career of six decades. Donny also does a full Broadway production of his classic Disney hit from Mulan ,“I’ll MakeA Man Out OfYou.” New show dates include: Jan. 24–28, 31; Feb. 1–4, 14–18, 21–25, 28; March 1–4, 7–11, 21–25, 28–31; April 1, 4–8; and May 2–6, 9–13, 16–20, 23–27.

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