Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The REEL Deal Downtown -- Fabled El Cortez Boasts 26% Looser Slots!

You read right, folks -- the legendary El Cortez in downtown Las Vegas boasts 26% looser slots than any other operator in Clark County, Nevada!!! http://www.elcortezhotelcasino.com/

I'm not sure how exactly they arrived at this figure, but it certainly warranted a trip to the other side of the tracks -- or at least Las Vegas Blvd.

You see, the El Cortez is historic, and value-oriented, which is a nice way to say it is an old grind joint. It's location on Fremont East doesn't help it's allure, but the casino/resort (a stretch to call it a resort, but actually it is the first and oldest operating "resort" in Las Vegas) has been upgrading itself, and so has the neighborhood.

This link is a great read on the life of the El Cortez http://www.onlinenevada.org/el_cortez_hotel_casino Built in 1941, the Dude ranch western themed resort predated the El Rancho Vegas, but the original partners soon ran into trouble and Thomas Hull of the El Rancho soon found himself with interests in the El Cortez. By 1945 Bugsy Siegel and his cohorts were involved, but he soon sold his interest to finance the Flamingo. We all know how that ended up for Bugsy. Meanwhile downtown, the El Cortez prospered under new ownership while it played host to many illustrious guests in the post-war era.

In 1963 it found it's most loyal owner yet when Jackie Gaughan purchased the property and began building his downtown casino empire. Although "Mr. Jackie" sold his casinos in 2002, he still lives in the penthouse of the El Cortez, and occasionally plays poker downstairs.

Although it's location a block east of Las Vegas Boulevard put the El Cortez well beyond the comforting canopy of the Fremont Street Experience, it never lost it's charm with die-hard (and down on their luck) locals.

Recent renovations are bringing the El Cortez back to it's former lustre. http://eon.businesswire.com/releases/el_cortez/vegas/prweb544668.htm The Fremont East Entertainment district is reinvigorating night life, and the condo high rise going up next door will surely gentrify the neighborhood. An entrance from Las Vegas Blvd. is being built, the neon sign is in place, but not yet lit.

So things are definitely looking up for the El Cortez -- but what about 26% looser slots? I haven't yet devised a system for comparing slot play from one casino to the next, the best I could do was just sit down and play.

I began with a "Thanksgiving themed Special Edition IGT Wheel of Fortune" machine. I'm not sure if this theme is year round or what -- but it certainly seemed appropriate for the season. I hit a 1000 credit wheel spin, and then made an unfortunate decision to try my luck with the ever volatile "Life of Luxury Far East Fortunes." I quickly lost $50 -- so there I was, down $40, but I did get a drink in the process.

I wandered over to the "Monopoly Super Grand Hotel" bank of machines and played for quite a while, hitting numerous bonus rounds, and retrieved $17 of my losses. The player on the other end of the bank seemed to be hitting many bonus rounds as well.

So I can't say for sure that El Cortez's slots are looser, but I'm tempted to try again, leaving the "Life of Luxury" machine out of the mix.

The joint has a pretty good selection of slots, it isn't too fancy, but it is comfortable. It's running a few different slot promotions I couldn't quite figure out in my short time there, but I will return.

The El Cortez has retained it's Vintage Vegas feel, and is changing just enough to compete with the casinos down the street. A new porte cochere, ventilation system, upgraded rooms, decor and restaurants are nice -- but it's the loose slots that will keep this jockey mounting up.

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