Should I Stay At The El Cortez Hotel Casino In Downtown Las Vegas?

I’m thinking of staying at the El Cortez? I like the nostalgic thought of “old Vegas” but I want somewhere clean and nice. Also, is that part of downtown Las Vegas safe?

Lynn D.

el cortez las vegas lobby interior
The Lobby Stairs of the El Cortez Hotel Casino Las Vegas

The El Cortez is an often overlooked gem. If you want traditional, stay in their normal rooms (not the newer, hipper, more expensive Cabana suites across the street). The traditional rooms are clean and well-kept.

Located on East Fremont Street, it is a quick 2 block walk from the Fremont Street Experience. It is generally very safe, and surrounded by a number of great bars and restaurants.

The El Cortez has a full gambling casino with slots, table games, a sports book, and even keno! The slots are loose, and the table games have low limits with good rules.

Locals love their Parlour Bar happy hour with $5 appetizers, 1/2 priced draft beer, and 2-1 cocktails. Their other bar Ikes has similar (minus the appetizers) from 11PM – 1 AM.

Click for more info: El Cortez Hotel Casino Las Vegas

Las Vegas Penny Slots A Ripoff? Have Your Gambling Habits Changed?

I agree with the reader who complained about the “tight” slots. First, the casinos need to change the name, but they will never do that. When you have to play a minimum of 50 coins in some of the penny machines just to get the reels to turn, it is no longer a penny slot machine. Many require anywhere from 50 to 360 coins to play. Do you see any of these type of machines in the high limit area? Never.

These “penny” slots are a ripoff. The payout is horrible. I think this is a way for the casinos to force people to play table games. It has worked with me. I used to love slots. Put in 3 quarters and you have a chance for a good win. BUT, put in 75 pennies and you can win 25 WHOLE DOLLARS! Wow! I have been visiting Vegas 1-3 times/year for 20 years. The only thing more annoying than these penny slots is the card snappers!

John Wilda from Vermont


Ted Responds:

I’m with you. You are preaching to the choir here! The amount visitors spend gambling when visiting Las Vegas has declined by roughly 1/3 over the past few years. Obviously, the recession plays a major part. BUT… I think that people are also sensing they are getting ripped off and just not wanting to play as much. When your money doesn’t seem to last as long, you decide to keep it in your pocket. Maybe get a drink, walk the strip, go see Bellagio Fountains, spend a couple extra bucks on dinner instead of gaming.

Penny slots are statistically the tightest slots out there. On top of it all, you can’t even tell what you are doing an now to win on half of them!

I consider myself a pretty bright guy. I successfully counted cards back in the day, and I know pretty much every bet at the craps table (including all the really complicated ones). But I can’t make heads-or-tails of what is going on at many penny slot machines. Add to that the “new” 6-5 payout blackjack (popular on The Strip, it short-changes you as your payout on a blackjack should give you back $7.50 for every $5 bet, not $6.00 for every $5 bet), and you are giving people one heck of an incentive to keep their gaming money in their pocket.

Side Note: The El Cortez (newly remodeled and a very comfortable place to play) downtown continues to offer $5 minimum, hand-held, full-pay blackjack. If that’s your game, the “El Co” is the place to be.

Readers, this is a great time to speak up. Are you playing the penny slots? Do you like them? How has your gambling changed over the years: Are you spending more or less, playing the same or different games than you used to? Comment in the comment box below.

Ted Newkirk
CEO, Managing Editor

Comments on this topic? We want your opinion! Leave it below. Comments, questions or Vegas suggestions on other topics? Email us at [email protected]

How To Thank/Compensate A Casino Host

I have been coming to Las Vegas at least 2 times a year since 1976. I had a wonderful Casino Host for the past 15 years. Unfortunately, she passed away.

During our time, we would bring her different things from NC, as she was a NC native. My dilemma now is what, how do we compensate our present host? Is money appropriate, gifts, what? Please enlighten me.


Dan Savage

Ted Responds:

Money is not and hosts are usually prohibited from taking it (keeps you from bribing them).

If you don’t really know your host that well or know much about them, a modest ($20-40 depending on how much interaction and your level of play) basic gift is thoughtful. Pen set, flower and candy basket, something similar like that.

If you know them a little bit and can tailor the gift to them, even better. Maybe they enjoy fine cigars or a certain brand of candy (or liquor) or have a hobby or interest of some kind. But always something general (nothing personal like perfume/cologne).

Bringing something from your area would add a special touch to it even if the host isn’t from North Carolina. As you can imagine, they get quite a few tokens of appreciation and something unique always stands out.

Ted Newkirk
CEO, Managing Editor

Comments on this topic? We want your opinion! Leave it below. Comments, questions or Vegas suggestions on other topics? Email us at [email protected]