I'm pretty much sticking to my New Year's resolution of only playing for free on free play credits and eating on the house whenever possible. I will make exceptions, however for new casinos (or new additions to casinos) and new slot machines.
Yesterday I stopped by the Rampart and blew through my $10 free play on IGT's "Wild Orchid" machine with no results, and was heading to the door when a new machine caught my eye.
IGT's "Star Power" is part of the Fort Knox progressive carousels, and features classic Movie Stars of the Fox Studios - Marilyn Monroe, Lauren Bacall, Bette Davis, and some dude (albeit good looking) I didn't quite recognize. Here is the link to the IGT website but it doesn't give too much information - http://www.igt.com/GamingGroup/Games/game_detail.asp?pid=5.113.120&type_id=5176
This game may not be all that new, but it is the first time I played it, and I had some success. It is a "Multiway" game meaning it pays like a scatter with the 243 ways to win, or lose depending on your luck. It features a bonus round of 15 free spins when you get three scattered star symbols. For each spin of your bonus you can win between 1x and 10x the line pays, a sliding bar meter at the top shows your multiplier.
I got down about $10 and was ready to walk away when I hit the bonus round. I got a retrigger with 3 more stars for a total of 30 spins which gave me about $15. Now I was $5 up, but intrigued not quite ready to leave. I then hit the Fort Knox Progressive round and won the first tier that was $15. Now I was up about $15, but played back about $5 before walking out the door with $10 more than when I walked in.
After running some errands, I found myself downtown playing my $15 free play at Binion's. I stuck with Bally's "Samurai Gold" and was able to cash out my winnings as I played and left that machine with $15 cash. I lost $5 in WMS' "Dukes of Hazzard" before leaving Binion's and sauntering across the street to check out the new addition at the Golden Nugget.
I had left my Golden Nugget player's card in my car so I decided not to play, but I did peruse the offerings. The new slot area on the West side of the building under "Gold Diggers" dance club and in front of what appears to be a Grand Ballroom seemed pleasant enough. http://www.goldennugget.com/ The decor is a sort of hip modern aesthetic that everyone seems to be remodeling toward in Vegas these days, but it is warm with lots of red, brown, and gold of course. There are hand blown quirky glass droplet light fixtures, lots of tile work and a Sushi bar in the back.
The slot selection is far to middlin' with some newer slots but nothing I just had to play. "Dukes of Hazzard" seems to be spreading far and wide to most of the downtown casinos, and Bally's "Golden Monkey" is against the back wall.
Here is a press release about a year old from Landry's (the restaurant company) that now owns the Golden Nugget --http://www.landrysrestaurants.com/pages/news_events/published_news/06chron_ltag.htm
-- it covers the expansion of the resort.
Landry's is owned by a Mr. Fertitta, and if that name sounds familiar it is because his cousins, also Fertittas, own Stations Casinos.
Golden Nugget's slot club hasn't offered me any freebies, so I probably won't be gambling much in there, but it is the nicest joint downtown, and I'm certain it will prosper.