Shopping spree!

Dec 14, 2004 4:14 AM


Ask a gambler what he or she wants for Christmas and you’ll usually get something like this: a seven-team parlay; a pair of pocket aces; 15 straight passes at the craps table; a solid 8-spot on a keno machine; a dealt royal on a 10-play poker machine ”¦ well, you get the picture.

Unfortunately, these kinds of gifts aren’t available for purchase in Las Vegas shopping malls. What are available, however, are plenty of uniquely Las Vegas shopping opportunities waiting to be unearthed from the jumbled cityscape.

For instance, there are several dealers in town that recondition old slot and video poker machines, which are fully functional and legal to own in most states. You’ll find a nice selection of these machines at CJ’s Casino Emporium at Desert Passage at the Aladdin and Showcase Slots on Industrial Rd.

Shoppers may also want to consider casino-themed gifts, such as craps and blackjack tables, roulette wheels, cards, dice, chip sets, gambling books and videos, and even authentic uniforms worn by card dealers, keno runners and croupiers.

A good place to start is the Gambler’s General Store on Main St., the largest store of its kind in town, featuring virtually everything related to gambling and casinos. Here you’ll find dozens of slot machines, ranging from mechanical and stepper reel models to collectible Jennings slots from the 1940s and 1950s. The latter could bring as much as $5,000, but a functional slot that would look great in any game room could be purchased for as little as $600.

The poker craze is hot, so you can expect to find lots of gifts for budding poker champs. The General Store has poker sets ranging in price from about $50 to $500, along with felt table layouts, actual card tables, playing cards, poker-related books and videos, and even a green visor like dealers once wore.

For anyone with a soft spot for bingo, the place to visit is Bingo Novelty World on Cameron St. This place has everything for the bingo enthusiast, from the essentials like bingo daubers, seat cushions, personal fans and tote bags, to novelties such as lucky charms, watches, jewelry and bingo-themed apparel. For those who have trouble shouting "bingo" when they win, there’s even a molar-rattling bullhorn!

When it comes to gambling books, the Gamblers Book Shop on Eleventh St. is legendary. The somewhat undersized store has aisle after aisle of gambling guides, historical collections, magazines, calculators, betting systems, sports analysis, as well as a well-stocked room of used books and periodicals.

Within a few blocks of the Gamblers Book Store on East Charleston is a nice collection of antiques and collectible shops. There are about 15 of them scattered between Maryland Parkway and Eastern Avenue, many of which occupy remodeled 50-year-old homes. Some shops feature Las Vegas memorabilia, such as casino ashtrays, betting chips, matchbook covers, playing cards, signs and even guest room furniture.

Not far away, Fremont Street and the surrounding side streets are home to shops worth exploring. Begin with First and Second Streets, just off the Fremont Street Experience, and start walking. Within a block of the casinos you’ll find pawn shops that frequently sell interesting jewelry, money clips, nugget pinkie rings, plus the usual selection of watches, cameras, musical instruments, TVs, power tools and the like.

There are also a few Southwest and Indian shops where you can browse Native American arts and crafts that often include fine jewelry, dolls, leather goods, spirit guides and other authentic creations from tribes in Arizona and New Mexico.

Getting back to the main stream, there are dozens of great shopping opportunities in or near the resort hotels. The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace is just finishing its third expansion and features nearly 150 upscale shops and boutiques. For unique, though pricey gifts, check out Endangered Species for politically correct artwork and knick-knacks, West of Santa Fe for Southwest art and jewelry, Vosges Haut-Chocolate for a truffle collection to die for and Nambe for museum-quality crystal and metal-alloy pieces.

If you like to shop while strolling along Venetian canals, head to the Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian. The eclectic mix of shops includes Jimmy Choo’s for the spikiest of spiked heel shoes, the Bernard Passman Gallery for stunning black coral jewelry, Tolstoy’s for European artwork, In Celebration of Golf for golf-related clothing, jewelry and accessories, and Kenneth Cole for high-road boots made for motoring on a fire-breathing Harley, or at least looking like a biker.

Other hotel shopping arcades worth visiting are the shops at Bellagio and Mandalay Bay.

And the Fashion Show, the jewel of the city’s shopping malls, just finished an expansion that brings its total number of shops to nearly 200. The Fashion Show also features fine department stores such as Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Robinsons-May, Macy’s, Dillard’s and Bloomingdale Home.