Visitors to Laughlin, Nev., will find many new things at the casinos. Among them:
AQUARIUS: If you haven't been to Laughlin in a year or more, you'll never recognize the Flamingo Laughlin. That's because the 1,900-room hotel is now called Aquarius and has a theme that flows like water, starting with the 80-foot-tall digital plasma display in the shape of a wave that towers over the main entrance. Inside, the casino has been redone with new carpet, lighting and wall coverings, and the focal point is two large, green sculpted columns with water flowing from the ceiling down to the floor. On the casino floor is the Zodiac Bar, which has video poker machines, a special drink menu and plasma screens for sporting events. That's only part of the $40 million American Casino & Entertainment Properties has invested in the Aquarius since it took over the landmark hotel last November. Next up is a multi-million-dollar room renovation project that is expected to start before the end of the year. www.aquariuscasinoresort.com; (800) 352-6464.
COLORADO BELLE: Since the purchase in June of the Belle and its next-door neighbor, Edgewater, by Marnell Sher Gaming, both properties have undergone a number of changes. Most notably, 2,000 new slots have replaced aging machines at the two casinos. The new arrivals include 56 keno games, the Wheel of Fortune Special Edition Super Spin game, and a newly released penny slot
EDGEWATER: In addition to the gaming changes listed under the Colorado Belle, the rewards program for the players' club at both properties has become more straight-forward. Now, players will earn one point for every dollar that goes into any slot machine. "The club has no hidden formulas and no confusing charts, so calculating rewards is always easy," said Richard Strafella, vice president of casino marketing. Also at the Edgewater, Kokopelli's Showroom has a rotating schedule of bands Thursday through Monday nights. www.edgewater-casino.com; (800) 477-4837.
GOLDEN NUGGET: The latest changes include the addition of Harlow's Restaurant, which is a 24-hour casual dining spot with a Hollywood feel, the Saltgrass Steak House and Joe's Crab Shack. www.goldennugget.com/laughlin; (800) 950-7700.
HARRAH'S: Eighty hotel rooms on the 19th and 20th floors of the North Tower were converted into 40 suites during a $1.8 million renovation that was finished last spring. The makeover was extensive and included everything from furniture to fabrics to wall art. One room with high wow factor is a 1,400-square-foot suite with a 180-degree view of the Colorado River and surrounding mountains. In the main casino is the new Chances Bar, which cost $2.3 million to design and construct. It seats 34, with bar-top video poker games and plasma-screen televisions in a design that's described as "contemporary but comfortable." The property is now in the process of renovating the former Rosa's Cantina, which also was located in the main casino. www.harrahslaughlin.com; (800) 427-7247.
RIVER PALMS: The Comedy Shop is turning into a laugh factory with comics who routinely appear on several national outlets including Comedy Central's "Premium Blend," "The Tonight Show" and on HBO comedy specials. www.river-palms.com; (800) 835-7904.
RIVERSIDE: A remodeled Riverview Restaurant opened in time for Labor Day weekend with new seating and carpeting that boast an earth-tone color scheme. Even the staff uniforms have been redone. The entryway also was widened to make it easier for guests to come into the restaurant or to pay their bill and leave. The next part of the property scheduled to get a fresh look is the Riverside Pit Bar. www.riversideresort.com; (800) 227-3849.
TROPICANA EXPRESS: The Ramada Express name is out and the new owners -- well-known to regulars in Las Vegas, Atlantic City and other gambling meccas -- are in. Along with the new moniker comes renovated rooms (nearly all of the 1,495 rooms were redone), a new restaurant (Del Soul Mexican Grill) and a new Follies Magnifique song, dance and comedy production in the Pavilion showroom. www.tropicanax.com; (800) 243-6846.