Watching a football game at Stadium Swim at Circa Las Vegas
Watching a football game at Stadium Swim at Circa Las Vegas@stadiumswim on Twitter

The Casino File: Circa opens adults-only resort/sportsbook in Las Vegas – New food for Live! Philly and Rivers

Despite the pandemic, the Vegas showplace opened last week with a gala whose guests included members of families that pioneered the town’s gambling industry.

It’s called Circa, but Las Vegas’ newest pleasure dome could have been called “Surprise.”

That’s because it’s a surprise that anyone would open a new casino-hotel in Sin City given the continuing devastation being wrought by COVID-19 on the desert gambling mecca. And it’s even more of a surprise that Circa isn’t on the glittering boulevard of dreams known as the Strip, but smack-dab in the middle of what is called Downtown—a.k.a. Glitter Gulch, the cradle of the city’s gambling empire.

While the 777-room hotel tower isn’t scheduled to open until late next month, the bi-level casino, sports book—hailed by Circa suits as the world’s largest such facility--and various food-and-drink outlets are operating, as is what will likely become Circa’s signature: Stadium Swim, which boasts six temperature-controlled pools, two swim-up bars and a 143-foot-by-40 foot, 14-million-megapixel LED screen on which guests can watch sporting events and other televised fare.

The pools are equipped with state-of-the-art sanitation and safety features including germ-killing ultraviolet lighting, high-speed water-recirculation patterns and a monitoring system that destroys pathogens, bacteria, viruses and organic and inorganic contaminants.

Another noteworthy aspect is the hi-tech parking/transportation center that has been dubbed the Garage Mahal. While it features 982 parking spaces, its emphasis is on ridesharing.

But Circa’s boldest leap of all may be its designation as an over-21 destination, meaning those younger than that are barred not just from the casino and sports book, but the entire property, including hotel. Despite Vegas’ well-deserved rep as an anything-goes adult playpen, this is unprecedented in the city’s annals.

“Once, Las Vegas held a certain mystique as this fabulous place where only grown-ups could play,” recent Circa social-media posts claimed. “Call us old-fashioned, but we think adults need some of that mystique back in their lives.”

While Circa, whose marketing slogan is “The Time of Your Life,” is certainly a forward-looking proposition, its developer/CEO, Derek Stevens, intends it to be an homage to “Old Vegas.” To that end, it will be a repository of historical iconography, including a restored Vegas Vickie, a 25-foot-high neon rendering of a woman in full cowgirl regalia that for decades was a Glitter Gulch landmark.

Circa, of course has a variety of dining options including Barry’s Downtown Prime, the requisite carnavorium, the Jewish-style Saginaw’s Delicatessen (like Stevens, originally out of Michigan) and the Pan-Asian-focused 8 East. There are also five bars and lounges.

“For the past five years, the Circa team and our partners have been devoted to introducing a resort and casino experience that brings something totally new to Vegas, and in some cases, the country,” said Stevens. “I will be the first to admit that 2020 has not been easy, but this talented group persevered and has delivered on this vision, 8 weeks early. I’m incredibly proud to be putting 1,500 people to work and that our doors are finally open for all to visit Circa.”

In Pennsylvania

New casino says ‘Luk Fu, Philly!’

When it opens in early 2021, guests of Live! Casino & Hotel Philadelphia will be able to avail themselves of Luk Fu, whose menu and vibe are inspired by Southeast Asian street markets.

Located just off the casino floor adjacent to the high-limit games parlor, the 132-seat Luk Fu (pronounced “Luck Foo”) will offer such traditional fare as Dim Sun and wok-fried steamed noodles; everything coming out of the kitchen will bear the imprint of Chef Wei C (Sam) Wu, a veteran stove jockey whose casino-kitchen resume includes stops at Resorts International Casino (now Resorts Atlantic City), the old Hilton Casino Hotel in AyCee and, more recently, Rivers Casino Philadelphia.

The interior design will center on a series of murals whose subjects, according to a Live! release, are “sexy, strong women.” The room’s visual centerpiece will be a one-of-a-kind screen created using more than 250,000 chopsticks.

Back in business

Hugo’s Frog Bar & Chop House, the upscale dining room at Rivers Philly, has reopened after COVID-19 forced the riverside gambling den to shut down last March.

While the casino itself came back to life in mid-July, the decision was made to keep Hugo’s dark. Two other eateries, Jack's Bar + Grill and Mian, reopened on Sept. 8.

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