Las Vegas Sun

December 11, 2018

Currently: 56° — Complete forecast

Looking In On: Gaming:

Strip biz will peddle Alka-Seltzer, not glamour

Drugstore, maybe condos planned for pricey spot

One of the big names on the Strip is staking yet another marker for itself, this time at the site where Ivana Trump wanted to build a condo tower, at the northeast corner of Sahara Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard.

It’s not another nightclub or ritzy boutique. Nor is it backed by companies in Dubai or Israel, where some investors have snapped up Strip real estate at high prices.

It’s a Walgreens drugstore, to be built by Arizona developer Steve Johnson.

Johnson, who has developed other drugstore sites on the Las Vegas Strip, bought two acres on the corner for

$47 million in August.

During the condo craze a few years ago, owners of the former Holy Cow casino site sought investors for an Ivana-branded condo tower, but the idea died when the condo market fizzled.

Because it’s a pricey site, look for more than just a drugstore. Johnson hopes to sell air rights to the parcel, which is zoned for gaming and could be topped with a high-rise containing hotel or condominium units.

Another Walgreens is under construction between the Palazzo and the Venetian that casino owner Las Vegas Sands plans to top with 400 luxury condos.

They join a Walgreens and a CVS that face each other near Tropicana Avenue and the Strip and are among the chains’ highest-volume stores.

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For years Las Vegas has attracted entrepreneurs attempting to launch interactive TV concepts allowing viewers of gambling contests or game shows to play along at home by logging onto the Web or by using remote controls.

None of these concepts has caught on in a big way. And yet casinos such as Bally’s, which hosts “The Price Is Right” in its theater and offers prizes to participating audience members, have recognized the obvious crossover between gamblers and game show fans.

Enter Morgan Guenther, a former TiVo executive who is promoting his San Francisco company, AirPlay, at this week’s CTIA (International Association for the Wireless Telecommunications Industry) conference at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Guenther says cell phones are the answer to getting viewers more involved in TV programming, which can translate into higher ratings and more revenue.

AirPlay’s 250,000 customers can win cash prizes based on guessing the outcomes of plays and the performance of certain players during NFL and NBA games. The company also has deals for interactive play involving the game shows “Deal or No Deal” and “Jeopardy.”

AirPlay isn’t much threat to the gaming industry or Nevada casinos, which have a monopoly on sports betting. And yet casino executives are watching the slow progress of interactive TV and its potential applications to Internet gambling, which is illegal in the United States.

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There was a day last month when even portable toilets were looking good.

With travelers curtailing trips and trimming their budgets these days, the 10-hour water outage March 19 at the Las Vegas Hilton, which also affected part of the Riviera casino and the Turnberry Place condos, happened at the worst of times.

Las Vegas Hilton officials made the best of a bad situation.

The Hilton wheeled in portable toilets, referred guests to working bathrooms at a nearby timeshare building and provided bottled water to customers while the water district worked to restore the system. The water district found a way to get water to the hotel’s coffee shop and buffet.

The property also made sure customers understood that the Southern Nevada Water Authority, which was doing routine maintenance on a pipeline that failed during the job, caused the problem.

Instead of raising their fists in anger, many guests expressed their thanks for how the Hilton responded to the outage, Hilton spokesman Ira David Sternberg said.

“There’s the incident and there’s how you respond to it. We responded quickly,” he said.

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