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Update 7/22/15: A small victory for VegasChatter fans? Our helpful tipster "Brad" has tipped us off that El Cortez has possibly changed their mind about raising their "amenities fees" (or perhaps just delayed the decision) after reading our post. In his own words: "Vegas Chatter was responsible for rattling the cages and having El Cortez think twice about an increase. Hotels.com was contacted to change the resort fee back to $10.02. LMAO..." We checked hotels.com, using the same selections as earlier this week. Sure enough, the old rate has been restored.
An entire seven days has passed since our last update on controversial resort fees. We’d be thrilled to let another seventy pass by before the next announcement…but no such luck. VegasChatter fan “Brad” tipped us off on Saturday that El Cortez was raising its daily mandatory surcharge to $15.00.
It all began three years ago this week, when the newly-renovated Plaza Hotel, which caps off the west end of Fremont Street, became the first major Downtown hotel to impose a mandatory daily fee (the little Gold Spike beat them to that dubious honor back in 2010 with a negligible $1.99 fee).
Since then, the primarily Strip-centric resort fee trend has rolled down Fremont Street like a bowling ball, eventually striking into the old-timey El Cortez Hotel Casino.
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So you or someone you know has just turned 21 and you want to get out there and have some fun gambling in Vegas. Every year, thousands of people come to Vegas for their 21st birthday to drink, party and, of course, gamble
legally for the first time. But, a good question is where do you take a first-time player to ensure they get the most bang for their buck?
I have been a casino dealer for about five years and, when I gamble, I look for the best odds with the best limits. When friends and family hit the big 21, they always ask me to take them out for a night of lucky chance. I love to gamble! Some might think, “wow, this guy has a problem!” Not at all, actually; I play smart and never put myself in financial harm. So, with that in mind, here's my personal guide to how to go all in for the big 2-1:
Downtown Vegas can be a difficult place to operate a casino. Many properties want to keep the vintage feeling, but they don’t want to fall too far behind when it comes to technology. Walking through the casino at El Cortez, you can feel and see that push and pull.
El Cortez recently added four touch-screen kiosks for Club Cortez players club members. These kiosks stand out like rocket ships on the old-timey casino floor. There's no question, however, regarding their usefulness. We all welcome advancements like this no matter how strange they may look. Club Cortez members can use the machines to find promotional offers and play a few games. El Cortez is currently offering four promotions at the new kiosks:
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For most, 9/6 sounds likes the odds offered on a bet at a Vegas sportsbook, but for video poker players it’s the hard-to-find, nearly break-even game found only in limited spots around the Strip.
What’s 9/6? Those are Jacks or Better games that pay nine credits for a full house and six for a flush. Games that pay 8/5, or even 7/5, are much more common, and offer correspondingly worse odds – the house edge is less than half a percent on a 9/6 game with optimal play. (Some casinos, including Stratosphere, once offered a few machines that paid 10/7 and had a slight edge for the player, but finding one of those in 2014 is about as likely as finding a leprechaun and a pot of gold on Las Vegas Boulevard.)
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There's more happening in Downtown Vegas than fast-changing drinking laws. (Although, if you haven't heard yet, there's another you should be aware of.) Here's a roundup of what's taking place, from remodels to new spots to sip and sup:
Mermaid's is getting a substantial refresh. Its snack bar is up and running again after a week-long renovation according to our @sammasseur who also spied new casino carpeting, new slot chairs and even new slot machines themselves. Sam was told the casino bar along with the cashier cage are next in line for an update. The biggest news is that the casino will covert its slot machines from coin to TITO (Ticket In, Ticket Out) in about two months time.
Today, Ultimate Poker became the official online poker room for El Cortez. This makes El Cortez the first Downtown Vegas casino to be affiliated with any online poker room. Since El Cortez closed its poker room earlier this year, this should be a welcome addition. While a groundbreaking move, it's mostly a marketing partnership between the El Cortez and Ultimate Poker.
The real win for online poker players is that you can now deposit and withdraw Ultimate Poker funds at El Cortez. In return, El Cortez will promote Ultimate Poker to its customers. El Cortez joins Station Casinos in this regard. This partnership shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise as El Cortez is also affiliated with Station Casinos' sportsbooks. Not only does Station Casinos operate the El Cortez sportsbook, but you can deposit and withdraw funds to make sports bets with the Sports Connection app.
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If you’re looking for that Bellagio fountain view, turn back now. This is for bargain hunters. Off Strip hotels, slumming downtown or even a room with a garbage view, if you’ll do whatever it takes for a good deal, this is for you. Check out our top five picks for a summer in Vegas that won't require a Bellagio budget:
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Even though we haven’t reached the official start of summer (this weekend), summertime events in Vegas have been booming for weeks. Pool parties started as soon as the weather permitted. The story is the same for Wet 'N' Wild, now well into its second season.
With temperatures regularly topping 100, access to a pool becomes a must for many when choosing their hotel. While summer isn’t a slow time for Vegas, we’ve been seeing some very low rates lately, many of which are bundled with free dining credit. The only catch is that most are coming from pool-less hotels. If you can find other ways of keeping cool, you may be able to take advantage of a sweet summertime deal. Here are a few of our favorites in downtown Vegas:
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What if you’re looking for a place to get some rest and want something upscale and modern? We’re guessing El Cortez doesn’t immediately come to mind. The hotel at El Cortez is mostly made up of older rooms that come with low rates. We’ve reviewed their tower rooms in the past and, while we wouldn’t describe them as upscale or modern, they are well-maintained and a great value. If you’re more interested in boutique than bargain, you may be surprised to discover what a difference $10 can make when booking a room here. This writer certainly was after a recent two-night stay.
Oh, El Cortez, how we love thee.
Free Klondike bars on Wednesdays during the summer sure are nice. Free slice of apple pie in the winter are nice, too. Neither of those can hold a candle to the special White Castle promotion for the month of June.
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Another tentative deal has been made between a downtown casino and the Culinary and Bartenders Unions.
This morning, it was announced that an agreement had been reached with The D; although, its sister casino, Golden Gate, is still among a shrinking number of downtown casinos with expired union contracts. Also in that group:
Four Queens, Binion's, Plaza and Las Vegas Club... no one.
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Will workers at nine Downtown Vegas hotel-casinos walk off the job this Sunday, June 1?
That's the deadline set by the Culinary and Bartenders Unions after negotiations with The D, Four Queens, Binion’s, Fremont, Main Street Station, Plaza, Las Vegas Club, El Cortez, and Golden Gate have failed to yield new contracts.