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Gaming Guru

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Top 10 casino openings, expansions and renovations

12 February 2018

In case any casino operators out there haven't heard, now's a good time to introduce nongaming amenities. As gaming revenues continue to fall, locations across the U.S. – Las Vegas in particular – are putting more stock into the restaurant and entertainment business. In 2016, only 34% of the revenue from The Strip came from gambling, while revenue from accommodations and food have risen, according Center for Gaming Research Director David Schwartz. Non-casino revenue at Wynn properties increased 5.8% year-over-year to $275 million, driven primarily by the popularity of renovated hotel rooms, as the company reported in Q4 2017.

So don't feel left out if you're not in the mood to hit the slots – there's plenty for you to enjoy.

10. Mohegan Sun Pocono announces Molly O'Sheas opening
In late January, Mohegan Sun Pocono (that's the one in Pennsylvania) cut the ribbon on its newest establishment, Molly O'Sheas. As the name might suggest, this restaurant features authentic Irish décor and dining menu as well as "some of the best beer and whiskey to be found in the region," a claim we're very eager to verify.

9. Plaza Casino prepares for Manchu WOK opening
Officially opened at the start of February, Plaza Hotel and Casino's new restaurant offers fast, fresh Chinese food, and we're glad to hear it – what's the point of visiting a casino-resort if they don’t have quality Chinese food? The restaurant's evolving menu seeks to capture the best of the Cantonese, Szechwan, Hunan and Mandarin regions, bringing it right to Las Vegas. If you go, tell us how they're doing!

8. Viejas Casino officially opens Willows Hotel & Spa
Viejas Casino & Resort's Willows Hotel & Spa was opened at the end of January with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, an exclusive VIP party and a stunning fireworks show. And it's no wonder they pulled out all the stops: The hotel houses a saltwater pool, a full-service salon, a spa, a fitness center and a whopping three new restaurants. And to make things a little easier, there's a personalized check-in feature that offers guests a little leeway as to what time they come and go. This is the third phase of the casino's development plans, so we're eager to find out what's up next at this California property.

7. Rampart Casino unveils two additional slot areas
Rampart Casino Resort at Summerlin has presented guests with an additional 2,470 square feet in which to game, located where the previous Race & Sports Book area used to be. The casino added 94 gaming units, including some increasingly popular Lightning Link-branded slots, and with a total of 31 machines, Rampart can now brag that they've got the most in Nevada. (You really can't overstate the machines' popularity, as dedicated Lightning Link lounges are popping up across the U.S. and in Mexico.)

Oh, and they have a new Starbucks, too.

6. Tropicana Atlantic City introduces new southwestern-style saloon
Those of you who are big on westerns will want to swing by Tropicana Atlantic City Casino & Resort's Firewaters Saloon, a love letter to the genre, where authentic western posters paper the walls and spaghetti westerns by the greats are on a constant loop. Not only that, they offer award-winning beers and craft beer selections from New Jersey breweries.

When you're done drinking, be sure to check out live music from local country bands, as well as, according to the website, classic rock and a "lil bit of disco."

And, maybe most importantly, seven-foot-tall Buddy Bear is always on duty for photo ops.

5. Stony Creek Brewery to build Brewpub Oasis at Foxwoods Resort Casino
Though Foxwoods Resort Casino's new operation, Brewpub Oasis, does not feature a seven-foot-tall statue, it does offer a beer garden and communal areas for backyard games. Stony Creek Brewery, the mastermind behind this new pub, aims to offer guests an "aggressively laid-back" experience and award-winning beer.

If you're feeling a little less laid back, you can check out the full brewery operating inside the casino and watch the magic happen.

4. Gordon Ramsay steakhouse coming to Harrah's Atlantic City
Gordon Ramsay, that overly-aggressive-chef-slash-TV-persona we all love to hate, is opening one of his signature steakhouses at Harrah's Resort Atlantic City this summer. This will be the first such restaurant in the Tristate area, and gambling industry officials hope it'll help draw in customers from New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia.

The Gordon Ramsay Group operates quite a few restaurants in casinos, so we're sure it'll be a resounding success.

3. Downtown Grand opens up 'Bed & Brewski'
Thanks to Downtown Grand Las Vegas, the city's first (and only?) "Bed & Brewski" is on its way. Partnering with Tenaya Creek Brewery, the casino will offer private tours of the brewery exclusively to hotel guests.

As if a look at one of Vegas's most successful breweries weren't enticing enough on its own, this package includes a six-pack of a guest's chosen "brewski." The tour itself features a five-beer sampler as well as 25% off food and drink at the Tenaya Creek bar, and an additional 25% off Tenaya Creek beer at Downtown Grand's various restaurants. Please spread this out over a couple of days. Or hours, at least.

The Fontainebleau in 2009.

The Fontainebleau in 2009. (photo by Neaco via Wikimedia Commons)

2. Harrah's Las Vegas completes $140 million renovation
Harrah's Las Vegas Casino & Hotel has unveiled 1,622 new guests rooms and suites in its Valley Tower as part of a $140 million renovation. This follows the upgrade of almost 700 guest rooms in the south side of the tower a couple years ago.

Additionally, the resort's lobby was transformed with the addition of a sleek bar whose design includes 12 gaming stations and charging ports.

Don't forget to hit up the new Starbucks on the way out.

1. Fontainebleau to become The Drew Las Vegas
The Fontainebleau, an unfinished building on Las Vegas Boulevard South that has stood like a sentinel since 2009, will finally receive a much-deserved happy ending.

Marriott International and Witkoff, a global development firm, recently announced their intention to open the property as The Drew Las Vegas in 2020. That entails some 4,000 hotel rooms, over 500,000 square feet of convention and meeting space and, of course, a casino. Entertainment, nightlife and retail operations will certainly be added into the equation, though no details are available at the moment.

The Fontainebleau was a $2.9 billion, 3,900-room endeavor that met an untimely end when the recession stopped construction. At that point, the building was about 70% finished. A sad story indeed, which makes us all the more glad that Marriott and Witkoff picked up the reins when they purchased the building for $600 million in August.
Abby Messick

Abby graduated from Champlain College in 2013 with a degree in Professional Writing. She didn't expect to end up in the casino industry, but it's proving to be an educational experience.
Abby Messick
Abby graduated from Champlain College in 2013 with a degree in Professional Writing. She didn't expect to end up in the casino industry, but it's proving to be an educational experience.