It's in with the new at region's casinos

New nightclubs and restaurants, as well as several talent competitions, are in the spotlight this week as the region’s gaming industry is wasting no time revving up for 2012.

For your drinking and dancing pleasure

Opened just in time for New Year’s Eve were Live Bar and Rush Lounge at Golden Nugget Atlantic City and Vision Bar at Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem.

Live Bar occupies the space that previously housed the Red Room bar. It boasts live bands every Thursday through Saturday night at 10 p.m. Rush Lounge is located adjacent to the casino floor. It features live entertainment nightly and offers bar-top video poker, blackjack and roulette. Also available are bottle service and cocktail shakers for parties of four or more. Gem-themed cocktails (e.g. “diamond,” “emerald” and “ruby” are the house specialty.

Up at the Sands, Vision Bar is a far more ambitious affair. The danceteria encompasses 10,000 square feet spread over two levels (the second floor is a VIP area). Amenities include two large marble bars, bottle service, a small-plates menu, outdoor terrace and four giant TV screens for interactive entertainment.

‘D’s’ is for dining

And for those more interested in the stuffing of one’s face, Monday is when Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City introduces Sammy D’s.

Run by New York-based celebri-chef Sam DeMarco, the 24-hour operation is an upscale alternative to the traditional steak-’n’-egg and club sandwich casino coffeeshop. According to our colleagueScott Cronick of the Press of Atlantic City, the bill of includes such up-market munchies as crispy cheese cannelloni with a pepperoni-cheese-marinara dipping sauce, a foot-long-plus, overstuffed BLT and pan-fried cheesesteak dumplings.

New at the Taj

Trump Taj Mahal’s latest eatery is Panda Express, which has opened in the Spice Road dining and retail area on the casino’s second level.

Panda Express’ menu offers more than 20 items including Beijing beef, honey walnut shrimp and orange chicken, a signature dish. There is also a selection of entrees for the more health-conscious among us, featuring meals containing 250 calories or less per serving. 

Talent search I

If you think you are show business’ Next Big Thing, then you need to enter the ongoing “Parx Got Talent” competition at the Bensalem gambling den.

Preliminaries are held every Thursday through Feb. 9 at the 360 Lounge, with the final round set for Feb. 16. The contest is open to singers, dancers, magicians, ventriloquists other variety-style acts. Winners will split $7,500 in prize money. For more info, go Participants must pre-register.

Talent Search II

Also looking for unheralded performers is Night Fever, the retro-themed disco that has replaced the headed-to-Tropicana-Atlantic City Boogie Nights at Resorts Casino Hotel.

Tonight at 9, the club is staging public auditions. Judges include Resorts bigwigs as well as media types including Yours Truly. The public will also have a say in the voting.

While potential applicants are encouraged to submit photos, videos and resumes in advance to, all are welcome to show up and give it their best shot. Applicants can also post to the official Night Fever Facebook page

While nothing is guaranteed, those selected at the auditions may receive an opportunity to perform in the club on a regular basis.

Talent Search III

And speaking of talent contests, Showboat Atlantic City has launched its “America’s Next Top Dog Model” competition. Through Jan. 31, dog owners are asked to upload to the casino’s Facebook page ( pictures of their pooches wearing adorable costumes and/or doing cute/goofy things. All participating dogs must weigh less than 50 pounds, and all photos must be sent in the jpg format with a 5mb limit.

Visitors to the page will be able to vote for their choices through Feb. 13. The top six vote-getters will be invited to strut their stuff at the ‘Boat’s “Best in Show” bark-off March 3.

The owners of the six canine finalists will receive a two-night stay at Showboat for the contest, as well as a complimentary breakfast at the Mansion Café and $100 food credit for Scarduzio’s Steak Sushi Lounge.  The “Best in Show” winner’s owner will receive an unspecified grand prize package.