In honor of Casino Boy's arrival, Amy offers the Buddies two exclusive Casino Theme Reviews that have yet to appear at Cheapo Vegas. These hotels emphasize the "cheapo" in CheapoVegas.

WHERE? Downtown
WHEN VISITED? 9:50 pm on a Sunday
WHOSE? Mr. Jackie Gaughan

OSTENSIBLE THEME? The outlaw society of the Wild West still hovers on the fringes of downtown Las Vegas.

CLIENTELE: By and large, the Western caters to tired-looking locals. Some are aged, others just look that way from hard living.

EMPLOYEE COSTUMES: They keep the uniforms simple here. Dealers wear white shirts and blue jeans. They accessorize with little aprons featuring a jaunty cowgirl with a lariat spelling "Western". Waitresses wear white Western-style shirts, red jeans, sensible shoes. It's all about survival here, folks, no frills or sequins.

CARPET AND OTHER DECOR: Continuing with the no frills atmosphere, the Western has no carpet, and the fluorescent lighting makes every bag and crease in the patrons' faces stand out in stark relief. The floor and walls lend a bit more warmth with their wood panelling. The felt on each gaming table features that jaunty cowgirl. Above the security desk, there's a graphically violent picture of a cowboy and his horse getting stomped on by a mean bull. There's also an American flag over the cashier, and a list of this month's big winners, providing a sense of community.

Restroom has infernal red and dingy green tiles. I kept expecting an evil Santa to leap out from one of the darkened stalls.

Snack bar is walled off from the rest of the casino by panelling. The windows have stained glass panels with red and green rectangles and gold stars.

FOOD: There is a snack bar serving snack bar standards, nothing fancy.

GAMES: The Western indulges the Vice of the Common Man...Bingo.

ENTERTAINMENT: The bar has a big screen TV.

SERVICES: Free ice! Patrons can get on the Western mailing list to get advance notice on excellent deals.

DID IT WORK? Indeed, the atmosphere does have something of the roughness of the wild frontier. We had some very, very pleasant dealers, though, who let us carry out our goofy missions.

SUGGESTIONS: If a guy picks a fight with a security guard, don't let him back in just because the security guard goes off duty!

CASINO BOY SAYS: "Um, can I wash my hands now?"

WHERE? Downtown
WHEN VISITED? 12:45 am Monday
WHOSE? Jackie Gaughan

OSTENSIBLE THEME? Formerly the Union Plaza, this casino still retains some vestiges from its past life as a train station.

CLIENTELE: The Plaza has one of the best mixed crowds in town, an intriguing mix of snazzy senior citizens and happy-go-lucky young low-rollers.

EMPLOYEE COSTUMES: Cocktail waitresses wear sleeveless black and green minidresses, bolero jacket optional. Dealers revel in the Mormonesque simplicity of white shirt, black pants.

CARPET AND OTHER DECOR: The exterior consists of a high tower with a geyser motif of white lights and "Plaza" spelled out in a swooshy red font. The carpet, with its dingy comedy and tragedy masks, mirrors the extravagant fortunes of the folks who tread upon it. However, the pattern had almost faded into oblivion when I first saw it 7 yrs ago. Maybe it's time for a change?

The gaming room is well-lit enough to read in, and it features the same brass and white lights popular in other venues. Walls are white, some sport aqua trim.

Restrooms have pink tile and marble. The mirrors have etchings of primping Gilded Age matrons, so if you don't like your own appearance, just look at them, instead. Or, just heed the sign recommending the Plaza Hair Salon.

Past the downstairs level shops, an imposing mural traces the history of trains from the Iron Horse coursing through the sagebrush wilderness to futuristic snake trains. Through it all, the Plaza still stands proud and tall.

FOOD: The Center Stage Restaurant serves up basic meat and potatoes fare and a ritzy view of downtown. The Plaza Diner is a 1950's style coffee shop, notorious for offering "The Pound of Pig". The snack bar, which is tucked away over by the penny slots, serves mostly soup and sandwiches worthy of Amtrak snack bars.

ENTERTAINMENT: Kenny Kerr and the rest of the cast from "Boy-lesque!" are in another show that is not called "Boy-lesque!". Omaha Lounge provides live music for the whole casino, courtesy of the frolicsome Sunspots, the buxom Rochelle, and others. But beware, there is no dancing allowed at the Omaha, even though I've seen people break that rule. The "Triple Crown Ballroom" hosts the most happenin' events in Vegas, such as a German-American Mardi Gras that would knock your liederhosen off.

SERVICES: KDWN spreads the rantings of talk radio wackos from the heart of the Plaza. Past the hall of mirrors upstairs, one can find a number of shops, hair salons, and the wedding chapel. The wedding chapel is a picture of simplicity, with green and ivory accents, calla lilies, and stained glass. Very holy. Of course, one of the swankiest perks the Plaza has is the rooftop swimming pool and tennis courts. A visit to this little eyrie provides a highlight to any Vegas trip. Upstairs seems to have a sub-theme of horse-racing; note the "Turf Club", the "Derby Terrace", and the "Triple Crown Ballroom".

And, don't forget the free photo keychains.

Downstairs, near the entrance to the old train station, you can get your hooch at "Whistle Stop Liquors". All the hoboes get their liquor there, too. For the kids, there is a "Fun Arcade".

DID IT WORK? This place is old school, and it doesn't need a theme. None of the new places can touch its classic swank.

SUGGESTIONS: Whoever buys this place had better not ruin it, goddammit.

CASINO BOY SAYS: "Gee, I'm living it up and letting myself go!"

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