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Malls and Old-Guy Casinos

Casinos in malls, robot dogs and a lament for old Las Vegas.

Malls and Old-Guy Casinos

As usual, I have culled all the pertinent gaming news of the month, and I hope to come up with clever quips and wisecracks about each of the stories. In this modern age, I no longer have to glean the gaming news by poring over newspapers from a dozen different gaming cities.

OK, I never did that either. But in any event, this month’s gaming news offers up a stew of modern-age curiosities, tempered by some nods to the old days. (And my old days are pretty darned old.)

First, the newfangled stuff: like casinos in malls.

Last month, Cordish Companies opened Live! Casino Pittsburgh, located in a former Bon Ton anchor store at the Westmoreland Mall, around 35 miles east of my hometown.

I lived on the other side of Pittsburgh, in the hamlet of Library, now known as South Park. (No, not that South Park. My South Park was called South Park before the cartoon.) Consequently, I never went to the Westmoreland Mall, but from all indications, it was the same as South Hills Village, the mall where we all hung out, roamed with imagined intimidation aimed at square adults, and worked in department stores—teenagers in cheap suits and name tags, shoulder-length hair making the getups look ridiculous.

There was always an arcade at South Hills Village, but never a casino.

Of course, Cordish has run what amounts to a mall casino for years in Maryland, where the Live! Hotel and Casino sits adjacent to the massive Arundel Mills Mall. The combination of gaming with a retail center has been an absolute hit.

Still, casinos in Pittsburgh malls? I guess I’m having trouble imagining malls where I used to spend hours playing pinball as having craps tables.

Although, admittedly, I would have loved it.

The Covid-19 crisis has brought about something even more newfangled than mall casinos—a robot dog greeter.

At Wynn Las Vegas, they recently introduced guests to the “Fashion Hound,” billed as the “latest addition to socially distanced, mechanized entertainment at Wynn.”

A newspaper article described the dog as “a four-legged robot with a cheerful digital face” that roams around the lobby giving fashion advice and telling jokes.

I must admit it’s a great idea, although after looking at video of the thing, I’d have to disagree with the cheery description. The thing has dog ears hanging off the sides, and it sneaks up beeping and flashing its “cheery digital face,” which, to me, gave it a creepy, alien vibe.

I’m thinking if the thing came up on me when I was in a check-in line, my first instinct would be to find something to hit it with.

“Welcome, honored guest. Did you hear the one about…”

“AAAAGH! Get off!”

Moving on to the “Oh-Yeah-I’m-Old” news items, Foxwoods Resort Casino announced it will open up one of its five floors exclusively for guests who are 55 and older. The casino is sectioning off an entire gaming floor at its Rainmaker Casino beginning November 6 to create an over-55 casino with gambling, complimentary cocktails, a DJ “spinning the best of the ’80s every Friday and Saturday night,” and special weekend giveaways.

The nightspots will include the Prostate Bar and the Metamucil Lounge. House live entertainment will be the Great Grandfathers. There will be sanitizer stations, EKG stations and living will stations.

OK, the irony of these wisecracks coming from someone who easily qualifies for the Rainmaker Casino is not lost on me. In fact, wisecracking aside, I’ll probably play in this casino if I get the chance. It will be like the old Showboat in Atlantic City when they unloaded the buses at 11 in the morning. The ensuing crowd resembled a reunion of Gettysburg veterans.

Finally, it made big news when the El Cortez in Downtown Las Vegas changed the carpeting, one article in the Reno Gazette Journal saying they were sadly upending “immeasurable scattered ashes of celebratory cigars and bummed cigarettes. Each was a scar. A scratch on a favorite record. A blemish beneath the feet of millions who walked across this worn pattern of gold leaves and red roses.”

Another comment lamented, “Every day a sign or some beautiful, amazing element of Old Vegas disappears.”

Come on, the carpet was only 13 years old. Installed in 2007. It’s not like they were going to unearth mobster bones or Sinatra’s dinner jacket.

I think the burst of nostalgia could be traced to the fact that the El Cortez carpet installed in 2007 looked pretty much like the one installed in 1947.

You know, there really is a band called the Great Grandfathers. They’re all young kids.

To me, anyway.

Oh well, back to the future.

Frank Legato is editor of Global Gaming Business magazine. He has been writing on gaming topics since 1984, when he launched and served as editor of Casino Gaming magazine. Legato, a nationally recognized expert on slot machines, has served as editor and reporter for a variety of gaming publications, including Public Gaming, IGWB, Casino Journal, Casino Player, Strictly Slots and Atlantic City Insider. He has an B.A. in journalism and an M.A. in communications from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. He is the author of the books, How To Win Millions Playing Slot Machines... Or Lose Trying, and Atlantic City: In Living Color.  

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