(Most recent post: 'Salute'-ing veterans and military - Nov. 13, 2017)

Latest News and Views About
Caesars Entertainment and Total Rewards

Updated: Nov. 23, 2017

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On The Air With 'Off The Press'
While Scott Cronick is on vacation, I’ll be guest-hosting his "Off The Press" radio show from 4 to 6 p.m. tomorrow, Nov.24. In Atlantic City listen at 1400AM or online from anywhere at WONDRadio.com. We’ll be talking about the new Total Rewards Salute card, the newest video game gambling machine at Borgata, yesterday’s fourth anniversary of internet gaming in New Jersey, and many other topics. In the 5 p.m. half hour my guest will be Eric Rosenthal who will be talking about the upcoming ZorkFest at Bally's Dec. 2.  Join the conversation Friday.  Call in during the show at (609) 927-1100.  (11/22)

Come To The 'Cabaret,' My Friend
Producer Keith Thompson has teamed up with acclaimed Broadway pianist Philip Fortenberry to create a new show, “The Cocktail Cabaret,” where a “Who’s Who” of Vegas entertainment greats sing everything from Frank Sinatra staples to Thompson’s fun and humorous originals.  Host Eric Jordan Young, along with vocalists Maren Wade, Niki Scalera and Daniel Emmet, takes you on a 70-minute journey from the Rat Pack to pop legends like Cyndi Lauper.  The singers are joined by a four-piece band, led by Fortenberry.  “The Cocktail Cabaret” starts at 5 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday in Cleopatra's Barge at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.  The Dave Perrico Pop Strings Orchestra performs Saturdays from 10 p.m. to midnight.  (11/21)

'Smile, You're On Candid Camera!'
Who in the world came up with the idea of giving away a drone with a camera as a holiday gift from Caesars Atlantic City?  Too many people who receive these offers don't even take the time to read them let alone the complicated instructions required to operate one of these drones.  Plus, are those who accept this offer there is a free play alternative going to take the time to familiarize themselves with the registration procedures and state laws that regulate these drones?  Here's a link to one source for this information.  Click here.  (11/21)

It's the thought that counts. . .not the punctuation.
(What's a little apostrophe among friends?)

Deal Includes Two Indiana Casinos
Caesars To Acquire Centaur Gaming
There seems to be a conflict between the tweet and the news release it links to.  Is Caesars acquiring Centaur Gaming or Centaur Holdings LLC?  They appear to be two different companies.
Caesars Entertainment Corp. has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Centaur Gaming for $1.7 billion in cash, including $1.625 billion at closing and $75 million in deferred consideration.  As a result of the transaction Caesars will add Hoosier Park Racing and Casino in Anderson, Ind., left, and the Indiana Grand Racing and Casino in Shelbyville, Ind., to its Total Rewards network.  The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions, and is expected to close in the first half of 2018. 
Caesars already owns two of the state's 13 casinos, Horseshoe Southern Indiana in Elizabeth and Horseshoe Casino Hammond.  (Updated 11/16)

Tickled Pink
The first of the renovated rooms at Flamingo Las Vegas have been completed.  By April, 1,280 of the hotel’s 3,500 rooms will have been redone at a cost of $90 million.   Of course, you’ll see touches of flamingo pink, as well as framed flamingo art.  (11/16)

One For Two
Not sure when this actually happened, but at least back in September when a friend was there, Seven Stars and Diamond cardholders could get one ticket to two shows as their monthly complimentary ticket benefit.  The website MarksLasVegas.com generally posts the list of shows currently available.   (11/15)

NCL Gem Cancels Cruises
Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Gem's propulsion system partially failed last month. The ship was rerouted to Barbados.  “There was no communication, we knew nothing about what was going to happen. . ..if we were going to have a hotel to stay at," one passenger told an ABC New York television news station.  One passenger said, "[She] was a little disappointed because of the need to scramble and lose a day," but felt that NCL "did the best they could under the circumstances."  She added, ”We were all notified Tuesday that we would bypass St. Thomas and were diverted to Grenada and disembarked in Barbados where NCL flew us to Newark and gave us hotel for the night and food vouchers.”  In 2016, there were at least 18 partial or complete power losses of cruise ships operated by the major U.S.-based lines, including NCL's Norwegian Star, which experienced repeated power failures last year.  According to the website CruiseLawNews.com, “There seems to be some dissatisfaction amongst NCL guests who sailed aboard the Gem.”  NCL issued the following statement about the shortened cruise: “Due to a technical malfunction with the ship's Azipod propulsion system that has resulted in the ship's speed being restricted from full capacity, Norwegian Gem's current 11-day Eastern Caribbean cruise that departed New York on October 31 will now conclude in Barbados on Saturday, November 11.  orwegian has arranged for flights to return all guests to New York and hotel arrangements for guests who returned home today.  Norwegian Cruise Line sincerely apologizes for this unexpected change to the ship's scheduled itinerary.  As a gesture of our appreciation for their patience, all guests will receive a future cruise credit of 25 percent of their cruise fare paid.”  NCL also canceled the Norwegian Gem's next cruise.  (11/15)

Hotel Management sent a letter to guests who stayed at Rio and may have been exposed.

More Legionnaires' Disease Cases Suspected At Rio
With 29 more cases suspected, the number of confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease has risen to seven, after an outbreak was reported at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.  The investigation began five months ago after two guests – who stayed there separately in March and April – tested positive for the pneumonia-like disease.  The hotel’s Ipanema Court and Masquerade Village towers were disinfected in early June.  Cleaning and testing of the hotel’s water system continues to ensure that the disease has been eradicated – a normal timeline for a Legionnaires’ outbreak investigation, health experts say.  Often the process, which includes precautionary disinfection of water systems, will continue for up to a year, says Robert Cole, the Southern Nevada Health District’s senior environmental health specialist.  In addition to the Legionnaires’ outbreak at the hotel, a report last month from the health district said there were 56 suspected cases of influenza-like Pontiac fever, a milder illness caused by the same bacteria, for a total of 92 suspected cases related to the outbreak.  The Rio staff launched a third disinfection procedure Nov. 3 as a precaution.  All recent tests of the hotel’s water systems showed low to no presence of the Legionella bacteria.  Guests are not currently at risk for infection, Cole confirmed.


I don't know.  Which is it?  6?  10?  You tell me.

Legend-ary Holiday Show Debuts
A special holiday edition of Legends in Concert at the Flamingo in Las Vegas continues through Dec. 30.   Among the “legends” who appear are George Michael, portrayed by Michael Knight, Whitney Houston, by Jazmine, Frank Sinatra, portrayed by Brian Duprey, and Elvis Presley, portrayed by Matt Lewis and Bill Cherry.  Joining the cast will be local youth choirs and performing arts groups.  For more information, call (702) 777-2782 or visit LegendsInConcert.com.  (11/15)


Café Hollywood at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas
has opened in the location formerly occupied by Planet Dailies.


Flash! 'Flash Deal' May Not Be Best Option
The current Seven Stars Retreat “Flash Deal” will reimburse cardholders 120,000 Reward Credits ($1,200) if they book their own airfare – or drive – to Las Vegas by the end of December.  [At any other time, cardholders would receive that reimbursement in free slot play and only up to the actual amount of the airline ticket(s).]  Based on what I remember from my high school algebra, this sale really benefits only two types of players:
  1. Those who plan to use these Reward Credits at their full value for food and beverage charges, show tickets, etc.
  2. Those whose airline tickets cost less than $960 and plan to convert these Reward Credits into free slot play.  (Over the course of two days, 120,000 Reward Credits can be converted at a 1:125 ratio into $960 of free slot play.)
I’m no math whiz, but if you’re not interested in bonus Reward Credits and prefer free slot play – and if your tickets are going to cost $960 or more – book your tickets to anywhere but Las Vegas, or if you plan to fly to Las Vegas, wait until January.  (11/14)

Caesars Windsor Closes Artist Café
Caesars Windsor has closed The Artist Café as part of what it is calling a “property enhancement plan” that will allow it to “remain competitive now and into the future.”  A number of employees were laid off, while some took other positions within the casino or early retirement.  “We reviewed our entire food and beverage operations and wanted to focus on the areas that we were doing very well at and what was most popular with our guests,” according to Jhoan Baluyot, the casino’s manager of PR and communications.  For example, in light of the closing of The Artist Café, Legends Sports Bar has extended its hours.  As part of the enhancement plan, Caesars is planning a multi-million dollar renovation of the 389 rooms in the Forum Tower.  (11/14)

Still one of the best casino player loyalty program benefits:
Using comps earned from my play at Golden Nugget Atlantic City
for pre-theater cocktails in Times Square.
They even forgive the sales tax!

Caesars Dominates Loyalty360 Customer Awards
Caesars Entertainment won the 360-Degree Award at this month’s Loyalty360 Customer Awards.  Loyalty360 is an association focused on customer loyalty.  In addition, Caesars also won the Gold Award in the Loyalty & Advocacy category, the Silver Award in the Operational Excellence category, the Gold Award in the Organizational Commitment category, the 2017 Loyalty360 Honors Award in Operational Innovation, and was named Company of the Year.  The awards recognize brands that are working to build stronger and deeper relationships with their customers.  The presentations were made at a ceremony during Loyalty360’s Customer Expo Nov. 6 to 8 at the Sheraton Music City in Nashville.  (11/12)

'Salute'-ing Veterans and Military
I’ve heard from a number of veterans and active duty military, and they’re not happy the Salute card isn’t available for Seven Stars and Diamond cardholders.  While the benefits of the Salute card are part of the benefits package at those higher tier levels, these men and women are proud of their military service and would like to be recognized for it.  MGM’s special MVP logo is imprinted on every level card, and the benefits are much more generous.

In a blatant rip-off of M life Rewards Military & Veterans Program (MVP), which MGM Resorts International introduced in July, Total Rewards has created a special loyalty card that upgrades any active duty military member, any member of the National Guard or Reserve, or veteran, plus their spouses, to Platinum status.  While Total Rewards is touting a laundry list of special benefits from having the Salute card, in actuality, these are simply the benefits that any Platinum cardholder receives:
  • Complimentary parking at many destinations, including Las Vegas and Atlantic City.
  • Pre-sale access for shows.
  • Special pricing at restaurants.*
  • 15 percent discount at casino gift shops.  (Cash or credit card purchases only; no Reward Credsit.)
  • 5 percent discount on Hawaiian Airlines flights.
  • A complimentary stay at Atlantis, Paradise Island in The Bahamas.
  • Discounts on select Norwegian Cruise Line vacations.
  • Tier status match with Wyndham Rewards.
*In markets where there is an additional discount, e.g., in Atlantic City veterans and military get 10 percent off their check, be aware of the restrictions:  You can't use Reward Credits, coupons or those twice-monthly food offers from the kiosks to pay the bill, it's not good on "specials" (such as the $39 three-course meals at Guy FIeri's Chophouse), and it doesn't cover alcoholic beverages).

Pick up a Salute card by going to any Total Rewards Center.  If you don't already have one, you will need to sign up for a Total Rewards card and show a U.S. military or veterans ID.  (Updated 11/23)


I think the person on the left was supposed to receive
some sort of free play offer like the person on the right.

$5 For Your 2¢
Total Rewards may call it “Say and Play, an online community for Total Rewards members,” but it’s actually a front for a company called SSI.  According to the company’s website, SurveySampling.com, “SSI is the premier global provider of data solutions and technology for consumer and business-to-business survey research.”  In other words, people who sign up for the program will get surveys, give their opinions which SSI compiles and analyzes, and then sells it to its more than 3,500 customers worldwide.  Sign up to participate and you’ll earn 500 Reward Credits after you complete your first survey, plus additional Reward Credits for each survey you complete.  Sorry, but my time and opinions are worth more than five bucks, and I don't want to get on any more mailing lists.  (11/8)

Look!  Up In The Sky!  It's FLY LINQ!
FLY LINQ, a new zip line that will send thrill-seekers soaring above The LINQ Promenade at 35 mph, is expected to open by the end of next year.  The zip line – approximately a fifth of a mile long – will begin at The LINQ Hotel & Casino where riders will take an elevator to the top of the 122-foot-tall launch tower to get outfitted and briefed.  They can choose to ride seated or in a flat position, will travel 1,080 feet east along the shopping mall and exit through the High Roller observation wheel building.  The actual ride will be about 35 seconds.  (11/8)


While I still think it's in bad taste to sponsor a group with this name,
several readers have pointed out that The Killers are from Las Vegas
and are very active in local fund-raising.  As a matter of fact,
they are part of a Vegas Strong benefit concert Dec. 1 at the T-Mobile Arena.
For more information, click here.

Texas Woman Wins $1+ Million At Paris
A woman from San Antonio won a $1,268,990.50 jackpot Oct. 28 on a Wheel of Fortune dollar machine at Paris Las Vegas.  Another unidentified player won more than $900,000 on a Wheel of Fortune quarter machine this month at Harrah’s Las Vegas.  (Updated 11/21)

No Clean Sweep
Is it time for Caesars to rethink this policy?  In light of the Oct. 1 shootings at Mandalay Bay, Boyd Gaming is advising guests at all its properties that hotel personnel will enter a room to conduct a “safety and welfare check” after a “Do Not Disturb” sign has been in place for two consecutive days.  Steve Wynn said that his properties have a policy in place to investigate rooms if a “Do Not Disturb” sign is on a door for more than 12 hours.
As more and more Total Rewards casino hotels offer the option of free play or Reward Credits in lieu of having your room serviced daily, it's interesting to see the different policies.  If you opt out of housekeeping services during your stay (minimum two-night stay), you still can request additional towels or other amenities, but your bathroom will not be cleaned, bed made, etc.  Just let the front desk know when you check in.  Here are some examples I'm aware of:
  • Harrah's Joliet - $5 in food and beverage credit per day.
  • Harrah's North Kansas City - $5 in food and beverage credit per day.
  • Harrah's Cherokee Casino Resort and Harrah's Cherokee Valley River Casino & Hotel - $20 in free play per day.
  • Harrah's New Orleans - 500 Reward Credits per day.
  • Harrah's Council Bluffs - 1,000 Reward Credits per stay.
  • Bally's and Caesars Atlantic City, Harrah's Resort - $10 food and beverage credit per day.
  • All Las Vegas properties except The LINQ and The Cromwell - $10 food and beverage credit per day.


Clicking “Learn More” on the Total Rewards website Home page takes you to
a “Questions/Comments” page – the same page you would get when you clicked on “FAQ”
on the former website.  It does not take you to the “FAQ” page.
Don't click on "FAQ" at the top of the "Questions/Comments" page.
That link takes you back to the Home page.
Sheesh!  Why can't somebody there get it right?

Insider Tip

Save $35 by registering before Nov. 24 using the promo code zork7stars.  The discounted registration fee of $115 includes all Saturday sessions and lunch, as well as a beer and wine reception from 6 to 7:30 p.m. the night before.  To register, visit TravelZork.com/ZorkFest.  The special room rate at Bally's also has been extended to Nov. 24.
ZorkFest Discount Extended To Nov. 24
ZorkFest, a one-day seminar that focuses on casino loyalty programs and travel, will take place from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Dec. 2 at Bally’s in Atlantic City.  Speakers will share tips on how to optimize your casino rating and earn more comps for less play.  Other programs will focus on maximizing airline miles and points, and tips to get the best deals on airfare, hotel rooms and rental cars.  For the complete schedule, click here.  (Updated 11/23)

- Harrah's Shuttle Scuttled
The free shuttle between Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino and Harrah's Las Vegas has been discontinued.  (11/5)

Leave The Driving To Someone Else
Who was driving the white Security pick-up truck at 3 p.m. Nov. 4 in Atlantic City at Harrah's Resort?  It was barreling the wrong way in the Seven Stars reserved parking area, almost hitting me head-on.  (11/5)


New Year's Peeve
From a reader:  "I also got the same emails from Harrah's New Orleans about saving the date.  I just got back from a three-day trip there and earned more than 15,000 tier credits so I thought I could be in line for a room and dinner on New Year's Eve.  When I finally got the offer I had to call them to see if it was a joke.  I told them where I live and don't think I would fly down there without a room to stay in.  I felt the same as you on this deal."
Not to beat a dead horse
oh, why not? after receiving four emails from Harrah's New Orleans with the subject "Darryl, Save The Date >> We’re Throwing A New Year’s Eve Party & We Want You There!", I received in the mail this New Year's Eve "invitation."  There's no party, there's no room offer. . .there's not even a request to RSVP.  Just some free play, two free buffets and entries into some drawings.  Sort of like a regular weekend offer.  Pretty sad and disappointing after all that build-up.  (11/4)


Adding insult to injury – I'm really into these clichés all of a sudden – I got a reminder email with the subject, "Darryl, Don't Forget >> We're Throwing a New Year's Eve Party & We Want You There!"

Payard Closes To Make Way For Giada
Making way for Giada De Laurentiis' Pronto by Giada, set to open in early 2018, Payard Patisserie & Bistro at Caesars Palace has closed.  (11/4)


Not sure where Flamingo Boulevard is,
but Bally's Las Vegas is located on Flamingo Road.

Some Great Gift Wrap Up Point-ers
If you're participating in the Great Gift Wrap Up at Paris Las Vegas through Nov. 6 or at Caesars Palace Nov. 30 to Dec. 3, heed some warnings from someone who was there the first day:

“When I visited the Great Gift Wrap Up today, the staff printed out my point total, which was the same as it had been one week ago. I asked about all the play I’d done over the past few days, and they shrugged and told me to take it up with their Support desk in the room.  When I did that, the desk person had to add up all my play at each casino separately, as their computers, I was told, ‘were running way behind’ and 'weren’t up-to-date'!   I feel sorry for the people who trusted the outside staff.  I ended up with about 16,000 more shopping points as a result of my questioning the total.   I asked if I could see a printout of all my GGWU points and when they were earned.  The response: ‘Absolutely not.  That would be against our policy.’  As a result of my personal experience, I don’t have much reason to trust Caesars computer totals, and there’s absolutely no transparency.”  (11/3)

Total Rewards Adds Rocketmiles To Its Portfolio Of Partners
Total Rewards has partnered with an online hotel booking service, Rocketmiles.  “Now you can get rewarded even when you’re staying in a city that doesn't have a Total Rewards hotel!” claims an email you may have received.   “Book your reservation on Rocketmiles and earn up to 10,000 Reward Credits per night, every time.  Choose from boutique properties to international favorites all over the world and book for yourself, friends, or family.  Get rewarded for your travel.”  Hmmm. . .10,000 RCs equals $100 in comps (which also can be converted to free play at a rate determined by your tier status).  Sounds pretty good, right?  However, as Seth Meyers says every night, “Let’s take a closer look”:  I turned to ThePointsGuy.com, a website that’s been around for seven years and is the “go to” for many travelers who are looking to get the most out of airline, hotel and other loyalty programs.  Here’s one example from his site comparing a booking through Rocketmiles and booking directly:

“I looked at a two-night stay in Miami on a Friday and Saturday in April.   Booking through Rocketmiles could earn you 8,000 Alaska Mileage Plan miles at the Hyatt Centric South Beach, 4,000 miles at the Intercontinental downtown, or 15,000 miles at the Doubletree Ocean Point Resort.  I list those miles at 2 cents apiece in my most recent monthly valuations, so you’re getting a substantial return on your spending, and you can boost that by taking advantage of the bonuses Rocketmiles offers to new members.  The big tradeoff is that you typically don’t earn hotel points for stays booked through a third party.  Depending on your elite status and how you pay (for example, if you use a co-branded hotel credit card), those points could be more valuable than the airline miles.  Furthermore, any elite status you have might not be recognized by the hotel, so you won’t receive upgrades, free breakfast and other benefits. In many cases, you’ll come out ahead by booking directly.   There are other concerns. . . .Rocketmiles doesn’t always have the best prices.  Using the example above, you can save about $35 per night at the Hyatt South Beach by booking through the Hyatt website instead of through Rocketmiles, which makes the prospect of earning miles over hotel points much less appealing.   That’s not always the case, but as hotels increasingly try to improve profit margins by pushing out the middle man, third-party booking sites may struggle to offer both worthwhile rewards and competitive rates.  Try to maximize your rewards, but first make sure you’re getting a good rate.  One place where Rocketmiles comes in handy is at hotels that don’t offer a loyalty program.  Ordinarily, your best chance to earn rewards at those properties would be from the credit card you use to pay your bill.  However, Rocketmiles lets you earn miles as well, and in these cases there’s no tradeoff with other points or elite benefits.   So long as you’re getting a decent rate, you might as well take the extra rewards.”

You can contact The Points Guy through Twitter at @thepointsguy, message him on Facebook or send him an email at info@thepointsguy.com.  (11/2)