A groundbreaking ceremony on the site of the old Moulin Rouge casino, off the Strip at 900 Bonanza Road in Las Vegas, was held earlier this week, as new developers seeking to transform the stricken remains of the iconic building to its former glory gathered round.
The Moulin Rouge back in its short heyday in 1955, when can-can dancers lit up the stage. The current owner says that work to rebuild the iconic landmark property could begin within weeks.
It’s not the first time that the Moulin Rouge has broken new ground, however. While the casino itself was open for just six months, declaring itself bankrupt in November 1955, its brief existence had a lasting impact on civil rights and racial politics in Las Vegas and beyond.
Built by two white businessman, real-estate baron Alexander Bisno and New York restaurateur Louis Rubin, with investment from the great African-American boxer Joe Louis, ‘the Rouge,’ as it was known, was the first-ever racially integrated casino resort.
End of Segregation
Las Vegas, through the 1950s was heavily segregated. Blacks were barred from the casinos on the Strip, unless they were entertainers. Even then, they were treated as second-class citizens.
Legendary musicians like Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, and Sammy Davis Jr. were required to come and go by the vendors entrance or though the casino kitchens, and were forced to stay at boarding houses in the black area of town, across the railroad tracks.
When Davis, in a moment of rebellion, decided to take a dip in the pool at the New Frontier, the management immediately drained it.
The Rouge flung open its doors exactly 61 years prior to Tuesday’s ceremony. A 60-foot white neon ‘Moulin Rouge’ sign blazed across the top of the building, while inside, it was all wood panels and chandeliers and Toulouse-Lautrec-style murals of French can-can dancers.
Both black and white talent graced the stage during the property’s short life, with only the best of both, from Duke Ellington to George Burns and from Count Basie to Judy Garland.
A mere six months later, it lay shuttered, but its existence inspired the movement to desegregate the Strip. That came about in 1960, following a meeting between city and state officials, hotel owners, and local black leaders, held fittingly at the Moulin Rouge itself.
There have been various attempts to restore the building over the years, but until now, none have gotten off the ground. The structure has been largely destroyed by various fires, which prompted city officials to declare it a safety hazard and to demolish what remained of the original building in 2010.
The current owner, Moulin Rouge Holdings, will spend $100 million on rebuilding the casino, and said Tuesday that construction could begin within the next few weeks, to be completed in 2019.
‘We are hoping and wishing and praying that this hotel will be the heartbeat of the community,’ said China Hudson, spokesperson for Moulin Rouge Holdings. ‘We want people to come here, feel here, party, have a great time. This won’t just be a casino.’
Las Vegas Sands and Madison Square Garden Partner on New Off-Strip Concert Venue
Las Vegas Sands and the Madison Square Garden Company (MSG) announced on May 25 that the two companies are uniting to construct a ‘first-of-its-kind’ 400,000-square-foot entertainment and concert venue that will be the world’s largest facility built specifically for touring acts.
The now-completed and opened T-Mobile Arena will have some perhaps not-so-friendly competition from another concert venue being planned off the Strip by Las Vegas Sands and the Madison Square Garden Company. (Image: lasvegassun.com)
According to a jointly issued press release, the arena ‘will feature a unique seating design that places all 17,500 seats in front of the stage and, with a scalable seating capacity, will present a wide variety of shows.’
The building will be constructed where Sands Avenue and Manhattan Street intersect in Las Vegas, a block behind LVS’ Venetian and Palazzo casino resorts, as well as the Sands Expo and Convention Center.
‘At a time when significant conversations are taking place about the city’s future tourism needs, a state-of-the-art venue designed, built and exclusively dedicated to bringing the world’s greatest musical and entertainment acts to Las Vegas is the type of development we should all be excited about,’ Las Vegas Sands Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson was quoted in the presser.
Having Stadium Power
The movers and shakers in Las Vegas have made no secret about their beliefs that a vital component to the future of Sin City is entertainment, possibly even greater in weight than casinos themselves. The fact of the matter is that gambling revenues have seemingly flat-lined on the Strip, with annual revenues hovering between $6 and $6.5 billion over the last five years.
Meanwhile, non-gaming revenues have progressively increased and now represent a larger percentage of Las Vegas’ overall economy.
Utilizing data supplied by the Nevada Gaming Control Board, industry analyst Bank of America Merrill Lynch says non-gaming accounted for about 43 percent of Strip revenues in 1990, while gaming was responsible for roughly 57 percent back then. In 2012, non-gaming accounted for almost 65 percent of the economy in the gambling capital of the United States.
Adelson and MSG aren’t alone in rushing to build spectacular facilities to attract the biggest stars in entertainment. The $375 million, 20,000-seat T-Mobile Arena, half-owned by MGM Resorts, opened last month next to the New York-New York Casino and has already hosted monster acts, including the legendary Billy Joel.
Critics of Atlantic City believe the East Coast gambling resort city hasn’t properly adjusted to the changing gambling market. Commercial gambling was once largely confined to Nevada and Atlantic City, but today, 18 states have commercialized gambling.
Billionaire’s Backyard Playground
The as-yet-unnamed Sands and MSG venue will be built directly across the street from Steve Wynn’s golf course, which the billionaire is planning to remove to make way for a 38-acre manmade lake and water park.
A two-mile walk south from the Sands Ave and Manhattan Street site, and you’ve arrived at the proposed location of the $1.4 billion, 65,000-seat domed NFL stadium, the potential home of the Las Vegas Raiders.
It’s theoretical that a Las Vegas tourist could attend a Raiders game at noon, walk to the Sands MSG venue for an evening concert, and then cap off the night in the water park, all without ever stepping foot in a casino. And that could be a harbinger of things to come in Sin City.
Online Poker Won’t Be Banned Nationwide, as Anti-Gambling Bill 2.0 Fails
The online poker industry has received its fair share of criticism from some US lawmakers, mostly Republicans. One of those politicians, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), tried some sneaky business to impress Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson.
Another attempt to ban online poker nationwide, a move that would keep naysayer Sheldon Adelson happy, has failed. (Image: Jerome Favre/Bloomberg/ Getty)
While Graham was running for president this past year, Adelson, one of the biggest GOP donors, expressed his support for the South Carolina congressman.
In return, after Graham dropped out of the race due to receiving hardly any support, he threw Adelson, who has been on an anti-gambling crusade for years, a bone.
The senator snuck some anti-gambling language into a federal spending bill, which certainly made the casino mogul happy. In the bill, if passed the way Graham worded it, online gambling would be banned nationwide.
Not So Fast, My Friend
Despite his attempt to pull a fast one on his fellow members of Congress, Graham was unsuccessful. Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) removed the online gambling ban language from the bill, and that was the end of it.
‘We win. RAWA loses. Thank you for taking action to defeat this effort,’ a pro-online poker organization, Poker Players Alliance (PPA), said in a statement.
The Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) was a bill supported by Adelson that would have banned online gambling in America. But, after many attempts and a boatload of money thrown at it, it never passed.
The language Graham inserted in the federal spending bill was similar to RAWA. Like RAWA, this attempt to make online gambling illegal throughout the United States was an epic failure.
Adelson, the man who owns two of Las Vegas’ most luxurious hotel casinos ( the Venetian and its sister property, Palazzo), as well as Nevada’s largest news source (the Las Vegas Review-Journal) is 82-years old and worth billions of dollars, but absolutely refuses to give up his fight to make it illegal to gamble online. He’s been doing this for years and no one expects him to quit until the day he dies.
Supporting The Donald
Donald Trump has now received enough delegates (1239, two more than are required) to claim the GOP nomination for America’s next president. After taking his time to fully endorse any candidate, Adelson recently announced his backing of The Donald.
The online gambling antagonist has thrown around millions of dollars over the years to Republican candidates. He works tirelessly to influence a candidate’s decisions, and that could well include the fight to ban online gambling.
A Trump endorsement from Adelson doesn’t necessarily mean it will soon become illegal to gamble on the Internet. In fact, the likelihood of RAWA or any similar bill passing, based on a few years of evidence at this point, is slim to none. But Adelson will most certainly, at the very least, attempt to influence Trump’s decisions, should the business tycoon get elected.
Casino Games Over NBA Games
Carroll is certainly not Kyle Lowry or DeMar DeRozan, the team’s scoring superstars, but the small forward has become an integral part of the Raptors’ overall success in the postseason. Joseph comes off the bench to relieve Lowry.
None of the Raptors played well Wednesday, the score making that more than evident, but Carroll and Joseph were exceptionally bad.
Carroll went 2-7 from the field including 0-4 from behind the three-point line. He scored a total of five points in 27 minutes of playing time.
Joseph went 1-5 from the field and 0-3 from the arc for three points in 10 minutes.
Casey didn’t credit Carroll and Joseph’s late-night antics for their poor play.
‘This isn’t why we lost,’ Casey stated. ‘This is the NBA, they’re grown men. . . This has nothing to do with a curfew.’
Game six between the Cavs and Raptors is Friday night at 8:30 pm ET.
Warriors on Brink
It seemed unfathomable before the playoffs started to think that the Golden State Warriors wouldn’t at least reach the NBA Finals for the second consecutive year. During the 2015-2016 regular season, the defending champs accomplished what was previously thought to be unachievable by breaking the Chicago Bulls’ 72-win mark.
Sportsbooks in Vegas had the Warriors heavily favored to repeat as NBA champs, but tonight they face elimination. The Oklahoma City Thunder have shocked the league by going up three games to one on MVP Steph Curry’s squad.
Once considered almost a sure thing for the Finals, the Warriors now sit at odds of 4/1 to win the title. Cleveland leads the way at 11/10, with the Thunder at 3/2.
Toronto is listed at 150/1, as oddsmakers apparently believe last night’s beating will lead to the Raptors’ extinction.
Perhaps Carroll and Joseph will hit up Vegas Thursday to place a wager on those odds.