Playing the hotel name-game in Las Vegas requires a bit of history - and, of course, context - especially when it comes to the recent rebranding of Bally’s Las Vegas into Horseshoe Las Vegas. The rebrand touches hotel, casino and F&B operations, and while the name has officially been changed, product modifications - which I’ll detail below - are ongoing at the center-Strip property. But first, here’s how the complex name-change web was woven.
The casino-hotel, which originally opened in 1973 as the MGM Grand Hotel, suffered a deadly fire in 1980, then was sold to Bally Manufacturing (the pinball and slot machine maker) in 1986 and subsequently rebranded as Bally’s. Hilton Hotels acquired the property in 1996, keeping the Bally’s name before selling the property to Harrah’s (now Caesars Entertainment) in 2005. Fifteen years later, Caesars sold the Bally’s brand to Twin River Holdings, Inc., which was already running several U.S. casinos under its own, unrelated Bally’s flag.
Meanwhile, Caesars Entertainment had already been operating nine U.S. casinos under the Horseshoe brand, which takes its name from legendary gambling hall Binion’s Horseshoe - once a touchstone for serious gamblers on downtown Las Vegas’ Fremont Street and the longtime home of the iconic World Series of Poker tournament.
Berry Cobbler from Jack Binion's Steak. Photo: David Yeskel
Not coincidentally, Twin River Holdings, Inc., as the owner of the Tropicana Las Vegas, subsequently changed its corporate moniker to Bally’s Corporation, making it known that it intended to reflag the Tropicana as Bally’s. Thus, Horseshoe became the obvious branding choice for the prior Bally’s Las Vegas, and Caesars Entertainment has leaned into Horseshoe’s gaming focus to draw the next generation of gamblers, not only by moving the World Series of Poker to the property, but also by building the first-of-its-kind, 18-table World Series of Poker Hall of Fame Poker Room for year-round play.
Accommodations in the hotel’s Resort Tower were refreshed via a complete remodel in 2018; while the Jubilee Tower’s rooms last received a similar treatment in 2014. I’ve recently inspected both towers’ rooms and can report that they’re generously sized, comfortably furnished - although slightly dated in terms of decor - and occasionally sold midweek at very competitive rates, sometimes even dipping below $100/night, including resort fees.
Jubilee Theater Dark for Now, But Other Entertainment Options Beckon
The massive Jubilee Theater, once home to the long-running, topless production of “Jubilee!” and more recently, “Extravaganza,” is currently dark, while Frederic da Silva’s entertaining mind-reading show, “Paranormal,” plays upstairs in the intimate Magic Attic. Meanwhile, adrenaline junkies can get their fix via a potent mix of pyrotechnics and demolition at the “BattleBots Destruct-A-Thon” show inside Caesars Entertainment Studios, just behind the hotel.
Credit: Caesars Entertainment
Food and Beverage Outlets Suit All Budgets, Tastes
Jack Binion’s Steak was the first of a series of new food-and-beverage outlets to open, offering a modern take on throwback steakhouse classics in a venue that was once home to the property’s iconic Sterling Brunch. I was particularly impressed with the Fried Mozzarella Heirloom Tomato Salad starter, the Wagyu Rib Cap, a side of Parmesan Crusted Brussels Sprouts and a luscious, non-traditional Berry Cobbler. James Beard award winner and PBS TV chef Martin Yan’s M.Y. Asia just debuted in March, with a menu featuring familiar pan-Asian favorites in a casual space, while the popular Guy Fieri will launch his third Las Vegas outlet, Guy Fieri’s Flavortown Sports Kitchen, in the prior Burger Brasserie space (located in the covered walkway between Horseshoe and Paris Las Vegas) this summer.
Lower Level Unlocks Cabinet of Curiosities and Blu Pool
Other changes on the property include the new ARCADE, featuring 80 super-sized games spread over 7,000 square feet on the hotel’s lower level, replacing the prior sportsbook, which never saw much action anyway. Nearby, however, Cabinet of Curiosities is an interesting cocktail lounge with wall-to-wall kitsch designed to stimulate conversation, plus a not-so-secret door to an inner speakeasy - a modern Las Vegas ode to a romanticized, bootlegging past.
Continuing down through the hotel’s lower level, just past the underwhelming and small fitness center (which on my visit was completely devoid of amenities like towels or drinking water) is a best-kept secret in Vegas: Blu Pool, one of the largest and deepest main pools on the Strip. But it’s really the upper level that represents the primary draw at this solid, mid-market property. When I asked the rebranded casino-hotel’s SVP and GM Jason Gregoric about the target demographic, he noted that Horseshoe Las Vegas “appeals to a wide audience, not only because the brand resonates with players,” but because it has so much to offer “right in the heart of the Strip.” Meanwhile, the advantages of an attractive value proposition on the generously-sized rooms and a restaurant lineup that caters to varying tastes and budgets are also key. And throwing in the Vegas-appropriate guilty pleasure of the “Battlebots Destruct-A-Thon” show assures that there’s something here for everyone.