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by Stu D. Hoss

Stu D. Hoss is a retired Air Force officer and aviator. He has visited and served in over 40 countries including flying combat missions in the Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Horn of Africa. Most of it under the guise of keeping the world safe for democracy, better blackjack, and for a few other personal reasons. He has been playing blackjack for over 20 years, and cut his teeth on the tables of South Lake Tahoe during flight training in Northern CA. Mr. Hoss uses basic strategy and the HiLo count method to give himself a chance against the house edge. He currently resides in NV and is weighing his options for a second career.

Note: The observations of casino conditions were made in May 2014. The casino visited in Las Vegas was:

The Cromwell Las Vegas, 3595 Las Vegas Boulevard South

What if they held a grand opening and nobody showed up? That’s pretty much what happened in the softest of soft openings on the Las Vegas Strip. The Cromwell Las Vegas opened its doors this month with little publicity or fanfare. The casino actually opened in late April; the hotel rooms to invited guests throughout May; and reservations were available to the general public on May 21. There was a ribbon cutting, but no official grand opening as of yet. I stopped by during a busy Memorial Day weekend to check out what the lack of buzz was about. After all, a new casino resort opening on the Las Vegas Strip should be worth a look, right?

The Cromwell is located at the intersection of Las Vegas Boulevard and Flamingo Road on the site of the former Barbary Coast, and most recently Bill’s Gambling Hall & Saloon. The property was almost named Gansevoort, but that relationship wasn’t consummated. The Cromwell is the latest piece of Caesars Entertainment’s facelift of the central Las Vegas Strip. The new property is actually owned by Caesars Acquisition Company (NASDAQ: CACQ), a subsidiary of Caesars Growth Partners. It was acquired by CACQ along with Bally’s and the Quad Resort and Casino this Spring along with some debt obligations previously owned by Caesars Entertainment (NASDAQ: CZR). As part of that deal The Cromwell will pay management fees to Caesars Entertainment. The Cromwell is part of the Total Rewards players’ club program.

The Cromwell’s valet and taxi entrance is off Flamingo Road. There’s a three-story garage in back. Both are accessible from busy Flamingo Road. I parked in the garage shared by Paris and Bally’s and walked across the street. The garage at Caesars Palace is an option, as well as the garage at the Flamingo if entering off Las Vegas Boulevard.

Hotel check-in is near the entrance mentioned above. There are bookcases filled with old books in this area. I couldn’t help but notice a copy of Albert J. Lowry’s "How You Can Become Financially Independent by Investing in Real Estate" on the shelf. Somehow it seemed both fitting and ironic.

With only 188 rooms, the Cromwell is billing itself as a boutique hotel, the first on the Strip. I attempted to get a tour and requested a press kit and some cooperation from Caesars public relations folks to no avail. Multiple attempts finally lead to a response, but then my requests were ignored for almost three weeks and continue to be so at the time of this writing. Thus my description of the rooms and nightlife complex below is compiled from various second-hand resources. However, suffice it to say, I’m relatively certain the rooms are quiet nice. Allegedly they come with hardwood floors, plush furnishings and high-end bath products. In keeping with the property’s European feel, there’s tea and coffee service available in the elevator lobby of each floor. Posted nightly rates range from $229-$299 weekdays and $329-$469 weekends.

The Cromwell’s 40,000-square-foot casino offers almost 70 table games. Unfortunately, you probably won’t want to...

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