Sunday, August 4, 2019

How to Easily Get a New or Renewed ITIN in Las Vegas

Need to renew your ITIN? Don't want to mail your passport? You can get your renewal processed at the IRS office in downtown Las Vegas - in one visit.

First of all, what's an ITIN and why do I need one?

An ITIN is an International Tax Identifier Number, issued by the United States IRS.

As an international visitor to Las Vegas (or any American casino), if you hit a jackpot over $1200, you might be subject to 30% of the dough being withheld for taxes.

If you are a citizen of the UK, congratulations, you have a tax treaty with the US and you won't have any tax held back - but you'll need an ITIN to prevent it.

If you are a citizen of Canada, you are actually subject to paying the tax. With an ITIN, though, there's a way around that.

When you win your huge jackpot, and they take their 30% skim, you must be certain that your ITIN appears on the 1040-S form that the casino will fill out and give you along with your (reduced) winnings.

When your year is done, if your gambling losses exceed your winnings, you can claim back the amount withheld by filing a tax return - a 1040NR, to be exact. But you have to have an ITIN to file.

That whole subject can get quite complex - I'm just going to deal with the ITIN renewal here.

How to get an ITIN

There are three ways to get an ITIN:

  • apply by mail, sending your precious passport to the Austin service center
  • visit a Certifying Accepting Agent and get it done in person
  • visit an IRS office that supports ITIN services

I'm not keen on sending my precious ID anywhere.

About the second option - the Certifying Accepting Agent. These are third-party agents that are certified to issue and renew ITINs. In fact, the larger casinos in Vegas used to provide this service right on site. I don't know if this is still the case.

There are Agents other countries (including Canada) that can do it - for a big-ass fee.

My understanding is that the Agent verifies your ID, and provides certified copies of same to the IRS along with the W7 form.

By far and away, the quickest and simplest way to get your ITIN in Vegas is to do it in person at the IRS office.

The Quad Queen's and my ITIN expired Jan 1, 2019. There just happens to be an IRS office within walking distance of Main Street Station (just the other side of the railroad tracks).

Main Street Station provides a convenient waiting room aka casino for you to pass the time in until your appointment is nigh. Then you simply exit MSS, hang a right at Main and Ogden, and walk under the underpass.

Walking from Main Street Station to the IRS office
But you have to make an appointment to do your renewal in advance. Here's how.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Double Up on Video Poker

Here's kind of an interesting scenario.

Say you hit a nice quad on Double Double bonus, maybe Four Aces. And then you are faced with this screen:

Would you have the balls to go for it?

There's lots of reasons to do it, and lots of reasons not to. For one thing, you are risking 800 credits, but you aren't getting any points toward what could someday be a free buffet. And, basically you are looking at a 50/50 draw.

So maybe you decide to go for it.

Dealer card is a 5, you are looking pretty good... You pick your one card out of four that has to beat the dealer 5.

Which one is it gonna be?

Monday, March 19, 2018

Golden Nugget Las Vegas Gold Tower Club Suite Review

The Golden Nugget Las Vegas offered 50% off a suite upgrade, so I took it. I'm not sure that the suite I got was really a club suite, but it was an interesting and comfortable place to stay, nonetheless.

Club-level accomodations at the Nugget include additional goodies such as no resort fee, wifi included, water and coffee included, spa access, and a few other things. And they are typically in the top couple of floors of the Gold, Spa, and Rush towers.

This two-room suite was on the third floor of the Gold tower. So I think it was a quick substitution - I checked in very late on a Saturday night, and I think I got a bit more suite for my money than I booked - but not on one of the club floors.

The suite is at the end of the hall, and consists of two normal sized hotel rooms joined together. In fact, it sports the both of the original doors, side by side, perfect for Benny Hill style hallway antics.

The left room contains the bedroom, a powder room and closet, and a full bathroom with jetted tub. The right room contains the living room with sectional sofa, dining set, storage, wetbar with fridge, and a second bathroom with shower.

Let's take a look around, shall we?

The furnishings, carpets, drapes, and other adornments are primarily gold. And brown. Gold and brown. Brown and gold. You'd better like brown and gold if you are staying in this suite.

Golden Nugget Las Vegas Gold Tower Two Room Suite
Left side bedroom

Golden Nugget Las Vegas Gold Tower Two Room Suite
Passage between rooms

Golden Nugget Las Vegas Gold Tower Two Room Suite
Right room living room. In brown. And gold.
 More shots of the bedroom and ensuite.

Golden Nugget Las Vegas Gold Tower Two Room Suite

Golden Nugget Las Vegas Gold Tower Two Room Suite
The king bed was comfortable, and anti Fremont Street Experience earplugs are thoughtfully provided.

Golden Nugget Las Vegas Gold Tower Two Room Suite

Golden Nugget Las Vegas Gold Tower Two Room Suite
Jetted tub. Bring on the bubble bath.
The living dining room was very spacious with a big ole couch for 9 to watch football from. The fridge under the wetbar counter was just a fridge - no minibar or other essential alcholic and snack supplies.

Golden Nugget Las Vegas Gold Tower Two Room Suite

Golden Nugget Las Vegas Gold Tower Two Room Suite

Golden Nugget Las Vegas Gold Tower Two Room Suite

Golden Nugget Las Vegas Gold Tower Two Room Suite
The Fremont Street Experience is just outside the windows, which were very well soundproofed.

An endless supply of coffee makers and water, if you angle it right.
The second bathroom is just inside the entrance to the living room side of things.

Golden Nugget Las Vegas Gold Tower Two Room Suite

Golden Nugget Las Vegas Gold Tower Two Room Suite

Golden Nugget Las Vegas Gold Tower Two Room Suite

Overall, the suite has the feeling that it is fairly nice, with lots of mirrors, touches of marble, tile and so on - and yet there is the sense that its soul is missing. All the needed 'suite things' seem to have been put in without much thought or style, leaving it just a little cold.

Perhaps its because there are only two windows, and they are quite small. And they look invitingly onto the rooftop HVAC equipment. If this suite were on the 15th floor, with floor to ceiling views, it would certainly have some oomph.

It certainly was very comfortable to have all that room, a huge step up from a standard Carson tower or Gold tower room for sure. But there are better, newer suites at the Nugget for sure, in the Rush tower.

I fell asleep soundlessly - wondering where the third foam earplug should go.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Robert Irvine's Public House - Royal Flusher Restaurant Review

Is the food at Robert Irvine's Public House as good as his arms are big?

For more than a year before it opened, the arrival of Robert Irvine's new restaurant was proudly advertised (featuring massive reproductions of his proudly massive forearms) on the sides of the hotel towers of the Tropicana Las Vegas as a coming attraction. In summer 2017, Robert Irvine's Public House opened.

The renovation was extensive, and came at the expense of the Trop's old sports book. Additional space was added in what turned out to be quite a serious undertaking - Public House is huge at 9,000 square feet and 275 seats. They feature

I stopped in for an impromptu dinner to try what is billed as "comfort food with a celebrity twist'.

It's a shame that I do try to protect my anonymity - staff don't know that I'm an annoyingly thorough and savvy foodietective, using my finely-honed foodie skills to test, probe, and evaluate every aspect of the restaurant.

They just know that I'm annoying. And that I take a lot of pictures of my food.

I stepped up to the podium and was assured that I could be seated in just a couple of minutes. I took the time to ask a few questions.

"Is Robert Irvine a celebrity chef?"

She smiled a little nervously and said, "Umm, yes. Yes he is."

"Why is he famous? What makes him a celebrity?"

She smiled even more nervously, the kind of smile you smile when you are being asked annoying questions by an annoying man.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

The Rarest Vintage Vinyl LP Records You've Never Seen

Vinyl long playing records have long been serving up something very, very, special.
Big Salami Johnson vintage blues vinyl lp record art detail
This Big Salami Johnson release, Ham in the Can, features classic neo-modern-post-classic gumshoe-novel style graphics by the renowned supermarket flyer artist Sylvester 'Sketch' McDoodle.
And the resurgence of interest in vinyl in today's always-on right now digital age testifies to this. People relate to the imperfection of them, I suppose, as an antidote to the auto-tuned sterility of modern recordings.

Whether it's the welcoming low pitched rumble when the needle hits the groove, the occasional pop of dust or click of a scratch, listening to the warm sounds of music coming from vinyl is akin to staring into the flickering random flames of the tribal fire.

With James Brown dancing around it, I suppose, if you are extremely lucky.