How to name a casino: From Barbary Coast to Bill’s to … what now?

Got a good name? Now that Caesars has severed ties with Gansevoort, it needs branding ideas for its new casino.

After a bizarrely tumultuous week, Caesars Entertainment is in the unique situation of needing a name for the $185 million refurbished casino it plans to open early next year on the Strip.

What happened to Gansevoort? Caesars severed its ties to New York-based Gansevoort Hotel Group after the Massachusetts Gaming Commission raised concerns about Caesars opening a casino there, citing the company’s relationship to Gansevoort, which allegedly has an investor with connections to the Russian mafia.

Still, Caesars is continuing to transform the former Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall into an upscale boutique property, complete with Victor Drai’s nightclub and Giada De Laurentiis’ first restaurant. What will it be called? Conventional wisdom says Drai’s; it’s a famous name already well-known on the Strip, and it fits the current trend of simple, brand-building casino names. But will doubling down on Drai adequately tell the story of this property, which opened in 1979 as the Barbary Coast and is finding new life as a glamorous, hip destination?

Though not universally recognized by Las Vegas visitors, the Gansevoort brand did carry a certain upscale distinction (along with spelling and pronunciation woes). Dumping it offers a renewed opportunity, however, to reinvent this casino and hotel with an electrifying label that might set it apart from its chief Strip competitors, Cosmopolitan and the upcoming SLS Las Vegas. Those two casinos might be exciting, but their names are not.

Casino names through the years

Western themes, desert beauty and the occasional tropical tease:

1941: El Cortez

1946: Golden Nugget, Flamingo

1952: Sahara, Sands

1955: Dunes, Riviera

1957: Tropicana

Extra glamour and Vegas-style cheesiness:

1959: Imperial Palace

1964: Lady Luck

1966: Caesars Palace, Aladdin, Four Queens

1968: Circus Circus

1979: Vegas World

Big themes and faraway destinations:

1989: Mirage

1990: Rio, Excalibur

1993: Treasure Island, Luxor

1998: Bellagio

1999: Mandalay Bay, Paris, Venetian

Simple brand-building names:

2001: Palms

2005: Wynn

2010: Cosmopolitan

2012: The D

2013: Downtown Grand

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Brock is an award-winning writer who has been documenting life in Las Vegas for 20 years. He currently leads entertainment ...

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