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Upcoming gaming entertainment headliners

Courtesy Golden Nugget Biloxi

You’ll still find boxing matches and show girls in Vegas, but casinos across the country are pushing the boundaries of entertainment by looking forward and reviving the hits of the past.

A new mix of sports entertainment and gaming in the form of Virtual NASCAR has taken casinos by storm, and the Golden Nugget Biloxi became the first Mississippi casino to offer the experience this spring. In Las Vegas, where Celine Dion has made the city a welcome place for top music stars, international pop icons are inking residency deals on the strip.

Blending the old with the new, symphonies are bringing classical offerings to casino audiences beginning in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and Wichita, Kansas. And elsewhere in Atlantic City, the golden days are back with new spins on old stars from Lucy Ricardo to the Beatles hitting casino theaters.

Some things — especially fine wine — never go out of style, and the Mohegan Sun WineFest and rewFests allow visitors to experience a premier tasting experience just steps from the gaming tables.

Golden Nugget Biloxi Offers Virtual NASCAR
Watching and betting on sports doesn’t seem like an unusual pairing for a casino environment, but Bally Technologies has taken the experience one step further by creating a virtual race of NASCAR favorites that players can follow from their slot machines.

Without interrupting their slot or video poker game, players can select their favorite driver from eight racing stars, including Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon, on the built-in Virtual Racing NASCAR touch screen. The “race,” with a randomly generated winner, appears on screens throughout the casino.

“How much you win depends on how many different people choose the driver; it’s like horse racing, but the odds are all one in eight. If fewer players choose the same driver, they win more,” explained Mike Trask, communications manager at Bally Technologies, Inc.

Since the NASCAR racing product debuted, it’s appeared in New Jersey, Nevada, Washington state, Oklahoma and New Mexico, and this June, the Golden Nugget Biloxi became the first casino in Mississippi to offer it. With daily races every hour for four hours over two days, participating players are eligible to split a guaranteed $10,000 bonus credit prize pool.

International Pop Stars Take Up Residence in Vegas
Las Vegas theaters were once known as the homes of former stars on their way to retirement, but new and evergreen names have changed the energy on The Strip.

Britney Spears signed a two-year, more than $30 million residency deal with Planet Hollywood just days after releasing her new album this fall. A 117,000-square-foot space is being custom built into a dance-club-style 4,600-seat theater for the minimum 50 shows per year Spears will perform.

Just one day after Spears’ announcement, Bruno Mars confirmed a residency at the Chelsea Theater at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. Due to his touring schedule, he will be in Vegas as a recurring headliner, beginning with the Cosmopolitan’s New Year’s Eve celebration.

Since September 2011, Elton John has played “The Million Dollar Piano” at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace. Offered four nights a week, the show centers around John’s Grammy award-winning fingers tickling the ivories on a high-technology video piano. Yamaha created the $1 million piano especially for John’s show, outfitting it with 68 LED screens.

Dion is also back at Caesars Palace with a follow-up to the five-year run of her show “A New Day,” which played to 3 million people over 700 performances.

Gabi Logan

Gabi Logan is a freelance travel journalist whose work has also appeared in USA TODAY, The Dallas Morning News and Italy Magazine. As she travels more than 100,000 miles each year, she aims to discover the unexpected wonder in every destination.