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Reinvention of Las Vegas Casinos Sparks Economy in Sin City

pussy cat dolls.jpg

Caesars' Pussycat Dolls party pit. (FNC)

While news about the economy continues to be gloomy, the future is beginning to look a little brighter in some of Sin City's casinos.

Tuesday two major casinos announced a slight uptick in revenues. MGM says its domestic revenues were up 4 percent from the previous year, and Caesars Palace reports an increase of about 0.5 percent. It may seem small, but considering the overall industry is down roughly $2 billion from just two years ago, they'll take those odds any day.

In fact, Vegas casinos have been in overdrive trying to come up with new and creative ways to draw customers. 

A number of them have decided to combine gambling and entertainment into something called a party pit, a specific designated area in the casino with tables and slot machines, and most importantly, a theme. 

Caesars has the Pussy Cat Dolls party pit, modeled after the popular all-girl music group. Harrah's has Toby Keith for the country music fans. 

For those who choose to pick their pleasure or their poison, there is a pleasure pit over at Planet Hollywood, complete with scantily clad women and all the bells and whistles, and one soon for all the parrot heads out there, as the Margaritaville party pit is coming soon to the Flamingo.

"You'll have several different elements that are added to a normal gaming experience from dancers to uniforms to choreographed shows to much louder music lights," says Paul Baker, assistant general manager of the Flamingo. He adds that it has helped with a bit of stabilization, which has helped the business.

While there are no studies to prove the party pits have resulted in a financial boost, they do prove popular with patrons.

"I think it's just a good environment," says Kira Thirkield of Seattle, who Fox News found over at the Toby Keith party pit. "You know the kind of people that you're going to be around and they're friendly, and you start talking to people at a table and it's a country mentality."

Other casinos have other tricks up their sleeve, like the Eastside Cannery, which is off the strip, but on the mark with customers looking for a little old-time Vegas nostalgia. 

Just off their main casino floor is a special room designated for retro slots, from the 70's era. It's here where you can hear the old familiar sounds of coins jingling down, signaling someone has won. 

It's a blast from the past that Cheryl Simpson says is a huge part of the joy of gambling. 

"I think that's the fun of it," says Simpson, "seeing the coins fall out you know it's been like that for years, so that's what I'm used to."

Eastside Cannery general manager Marty Gross says he has the only casino in town to feature the retro slots. "It's very important to continue to remember that people want value in these economic times," says Gross, "and to be able to offer them that is very critical."

Those who analyze the gaming industry say it's doubtful patrons are spending more time or money in any of the party pits or in front of the retro slots, but say that most are likely enjoying their time there even more than before. 

"I think people are reticent to spend money like they did in 2005 to 2006," insists Anthony Lucas, who teaches gaming management and casino marketing at University of Nevada Las Vegas. 

Yet Lucas adds the idea of the party pit goes hand in hand with the whole Vegas experience.  He adds it's a natural tool for casinos to get people in the door, and one step closer to the action.

Anita Vogel joined FOX News Channel (FNC) in 2001 and currently serves as a Los Angeles based correspondent.

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