Stratosphere Could Have Looked in Mirror Before Asking ‘What Happened to Vegas?’

January 28, 2015
Stratosphere Could Have Looked in Mirror Before Asking ‘What Happened to Vegas?’

The Stratosphere in Las Vegas launched a new advertising campaign this week.  Several segments explain that Las Vegas has moved in the wrong direction, attempting to appeal only to the upper class and those with model-like qualities.

The “What Happened to Vegas?” ad campaign sets Stratosphere apart from that stereotype as it caters to the middle class.  Average Joe will feel right at home there, according to the implied message in the ads.  The commercials refer viewers to

There is also a secondary message of “taking Vegas back”, implying that the old school way was better.  I support it.  The Las Vegas old school mentality is all but lost, except for at a handful of downtown casinos.  The issue is that while Stratosphere is running this ad campaign, it is part of the problem.

Facebook Criticism

The Stratosphere’s Facebook page rolled out several of these clips and a variety of images promoting the new campaign earlier this week.  These posts were met with some criticism.  The responses often critiqued the $18 per night mandatory resort fee Stratosphere charges in addition to its advertised room rate.

Stratosphere is far from the only Las Vegas resort guilty of charging a resort fee.  Casino Royale is the only Strip property that doesn’t charge one.  A handful of downtown and locals joints have resisted the urge to add this junk fee.  Resort fees were introduced in the past decade and are not associated with the old school Vegas mentality.

Vegas Chatter keeps track of all Las Vegas resort fees.

Gambling at Stratosphere Subpar

While the resort fee is the biggest complaint made by guests that viewed the new ad campaign on Facebook, the gambling at Stratosphere is below the Las Vegas average, even by Strip standards.

I had hoped that Stratosphere would roll out better gambling with this promotional campaign so I visited the property on January 27, 2015.  I thought I might find something like what Riviera tried in 2012.  I discovered that the casino games at Stratosphere were identical to my last visit in December 2014.

There are 20 blackjack tables at Stratosphere.  Only four tables pay 3-2 on a natural blackjack.  Two of the 3-2 tables had a $25 minimum bet during my visit.  The other 16 tables paid 6-5 on a blackjack, adding 1.39% to the house edge from the normal game, according to the Wizard of Odds.

There are five roulette tables at Stratosphere.  All have double zero wheels.

While craps offered 10x odds, one of the highest in Las Vegas, the Field only paid double on 12.  Most Las Vegas craps tables pay triple on 12.  Paying only double on 12 increases the house edge of this bet from 2.78% to 5.56%.

The video poker at Stratosphere is some of the worst available in Las Vegas, especially for higher limit players.  The best game I found was 8/6 Bonus Poker Deluxe, which has a house edge of 1.51% with perfect play and five coins wagered.  VPFree2 confirms that this is the best video poker game spread at Stratosphere.

This pay table and others like it are only available at denominations of $1 and higher, meaning that it takes at least a $5 minimum bet to achieve the return due to the increased royal flush payout on the fifth coin.  Even then, players theoretically lose $.075 per hand.  That is hardly a throwback to old school times.

Commercial Shot at 6-5 Blackjack Tables

There is a commercial titled “Blackjack – What Happened to Vegas?” that Stratosphere uploaded to You Tube.  It has been airing in the Las Vegas TV market.  We have embedded it at the bottom of this article.

Note that the blackjack felt in the first frame says “Blackjack pays 6-5”, as well as the table where the actor is seated.  The featured image of this article is taken from the first frame of the video.  It seemed very odd to me that an advertising campaign on this topic would use short-pay blackjack tables in it.

Ad Campaign Brilliant, Concept Needs Application

Stratosphere nailed the ad campaign.  They deserve credit for that.  The resort should have thought about what is really wrong with Las Vegas, like resort fees and poor gambling, and fixed it before airing the commercials.  It could have really taken off.

It certainly is not too late to replace the short-pay felts on the tables.  I hope that I can be writing about the new and improved gambling at Stratosphere soon.

I reached out to Stratosphere’s PR department to see if there are any plans to improve the gambling or dump the resort fee.  I did not receive a response.

Commercial Shot at 6-5 Blackjack Tables

Regardless of the gambling and resort fee situation, Stratosphere is a must-visit for Las Vegas tourists.  I always encourage friends that visit to go up on the observation tower.  The rides are a blast and doing the SkyJump is something that I will never forget.

(Updated 6:47pm PT 1/28)

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