Schuetz: Okay, I Am Officially Old School

Richard Schuetz

Last August, I was in Las Vegas for Bet Bash III and the launch of the Sports Gaming Hall of Fame. While in Vegas, one of my side trips was to the Katy Perry show at Resorts World. I had heard it was an interesting production, and when in Vegas, I generally check out Vegas things. As a casino executive, it was my stomping ground for many years.

I acquired two tickets that cost just short of six bills and headed to Resorts World Las Vegas, a property I have never understood from a design standpoint. I also appreciate that there are a lot of people smarter than I am who are presently operating these resorts, and I am sure that a great many things have changed since I was running hotel casinos — back in the day.

The Perry show was scheduled to start at 8 p.m., and, as is my tendency, I was about 15 minutes early. I was absolutely amazed when the show had not started by 8:15. That was, for this old-school guy, very strange, and my immediate conclusion was that something was fundamentally wrong. Maybe Ms. Perry was ill, or there was a major problem with one of the systems that drove the show. 

Curtains and clockwork

I came to this conclusion because back in my day, I was a senior executive at a property on the Las Vegas Strip that had Siegfried and Roy in the showroom, and this was an enormously popular show in Las Vegas. This show was scheduled to start at 7 p.m., end at 8:36 p.m., start again at 11 p.m., and end at 12:36 a.m. For four years, while I worked there, this show started at 7 p.m. and ended at 8:36 p.m., and, well, you get my drift. A person could set their watch for when this show started and ended.

There was one show in my four years that ended beyond the normal end time, and that was when Roy released early on a stunt and fell into the audience on a table with champagne service and needed to be rushed backstage to wrap his leg in an ACE bandage to stop the bleeding. This delayed the show for six minutes. Between shows, he received a number of stitches and then returned to the 11 p.m. show, and on this night, it started at 11 p.m. and ended at 12.36 a.m. — just like always.

What was nice about Siegfried and Roy’s incredible professionalism was that it allowed us to operate a casino. We could control our staffing and breaks in the casino because we knew exactly when the show would start and, more importantly, when the show would break. When a large group departs a showroom, it floods the casino if it is well-designed. The early show also tends to flood the food outlets.

[Also See: The History Of The Great Arcade Gaming Era]

Back in the day, our gaming areas were ready for the show break, and our food outlets were ready for the show break. We were locked and loaded, knowing that if we had our act together, we could maximize this great show’s gaming and food and beverage revenue-producing potential. Moreover, we could introduce a great many visiting guests to the gaming products of our property, have them leave some money behind, and possibly cause them to become a loyal consumer of our product.

Hear me roar, eventually

On my night at Resorts, Ms. Perry’s show started 40 minutes after the published start time. In that 40-minute wait, there was no mention at all as to why it was late, as approximately 4,700 people sat idle in the theater. One of the things that this does to a show is that it starts with an uncomfortable vibe. More importantly, the slot and table game revenue generated for 4,700 people sitting idly in a theater for 40 minutes is exactly zero.

Related to the late start, many of the food outlets were already closed when the show was over, so people noticed this and just headed to the self-park, valet, and ride-share areas. Less than one hour after the Katy Perry show ended, the slots in Resorts were an embarrassment to anyone who understood that slots were designed to have people play them. More importantly, when visiting several employees after the show, I learned this tendency of the show to start late and end late is not a unique event.

Regarding my earlier comments that I did not understand Resorts from a design standpoint, I now understand that I also do not understand Resorts from an operating standpoint. It seems that the casino business has left me and my apparently outmoded notions behind.