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Best of John G. Brokopp

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Gold Coast Upgrades Chop Down Palms

19 March 2002

There was quite a bit of hoopla in Las Vegas late last year revolving around the grand opening of the new Palms Hotel & Casino, which was developed on a vacant parcel of land across the street from the Gold Coast and the Rio on Flamingo Boulevard.

The Palms is owned by the Maloof Family, which created a hit among the Vegas locals crowd with its Fiesta Hotel & Casino, an establishment that built its reputation on some of the best video poker games in the valley. When the Maloofs sold out to Station Casinos, owner of some of the most successful locals oriented properties in Nevada, the Fiesta began a downhill slide from which it has yet to recover.

During our recent trip to Las Vegas, my wife and I wanted to see what all the hoopla was about. The marketing philosophy behind the Palms was to appeal to both locals and the tourist market. Sometimes when casino operators attempt to capitalize on the gambling dollars of both worlds, the result is disappointing. The Palms is no Fiesta.

As it stands now, the Palms has no identity, no "personality." There's a nice selection of video poker, one of the surest ways to attract locals, but the table games are nothing to brag about. For a brand new property it lacks the grand opening feeling and a trademark drawing card. Making a big deal about its towering roof top lounge and wide array of dining options just isn't going to cut it.

Until the owners of the Palms make a decision about what they want their property to be, the logical alternative is right across the street, just where it's always been: The Gold Coast. Vegas observers predicted the Gold Coast was in for trouble when the Rio was built, but it continued to thrive. The Palms was expected to have an adverse effect on Gold Coast business, but I just can't see that happening.

Why? One big reason is the fact that millions of dollars in improvements have been invested in the Gold Coast to keep it in step with the ever-changing face of Las Vegas. Gold Coast president and CEO, Michael Gaughan, also owns the Barbary Coast on the Strip, the Orleans, and the new Sun Coast. All are highly successful properties that appeal to everything gamblers want: Good games and good food at reasonable prices.

If you haven't been to the Gold Coast recently, you really ought to take a look. One of the biggest improvements was taking the old buffet, which was very ordinary by Las Vegas standards, and transforming it into an exceptional dining experience, replete with cuisine stations and completely redecorated interiors and seating. The breakfast, lunch, and dinner prices represent great value.

The rear portion of the casino is in the process of being expanded and remodeled to make way for a greater selection of what was already a vast array of video poker games. An inviting new bar and lounge area was also added. Up front the race and sports book has been completely renovated. About the only thing that's the same is the hot dog cart that serves up the best 75-cent jumbo dogs with all the trimmings.

The Gold Coast's stock-in-trade has always been its outstanding 2-deck "pitch" blackjack games (there's always a five-dollar table available), fifty-cent roulette, and two-dollar craps (but why are there still only double odds?). I do miss the old 25-cent craps table that the Gold Coast had for years.

Katie's Ice Cream Parlor, Terrible Mike's Snack Shop, and the Cortez Room, one of the most popular steak and prime rib houses in Vegas, are other Gold Coast trademarks.

The rodeo cowboy motif of the old Gold Coast has been replaced by a more upbeat, universally appealing ambience, wood paneling, and a pleasantly redecorated table games area. Visit the Palms if you must, but play at the Gold Coast. There's really no reason not to.

John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp
John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp