And The Winner Is… Vegas!

With the Oscars coming up on Sunday, Ira David Sternberg imagines what it would be like to nominate some of the town’s most iconic people, places and events that have either a movie of imagine movie connection.

And The Winner Is… Vegas!

Oscar night is March 12, when nominations in dozens of categories are announced and winners are celebrated. For years, Las Vegas had its own Oscar (Mayor Oscar Goodman, of course), but isn’t it time for the city to have its own awards?

Why not use “Vegas” Oscar for an annual ceremony saluting the Entertainment Capital of the World, where Vegas-centric awards from the Academy of Casino Arts and Gambling would be presented?

Here are some categories that could work (along with some potential winners):

Best Lighting: And the winner is – Fireworks by Grucci, a Long Island-based leader in the industry, which is responsible for lighting up the skies of the Las Vegas Strip every New Year’s Eve. Brighter than any marquee!

Best Costume Design: This award is presented in memoriam to the Folies Bergere at the Tropicana. The production closed in 2009, but the costumes live on at the Nevada State Museum.

Best Adapted Celebrity in Poker: Presented to Vince Vaughn, who adapted by serving as the WSOP’s “Celebrity Master of Ceremonies” in 2022. And he did it with a poker face!

Best Original Fictional Story: Oscar Goodman for “There was no mob in Las Vegas” (as told to me in an interview). Although he changed his mind about the facts in later years, his original stance still deserves recognition.

Best Visual Effects in Real Time:  Multiple winners for the implosions of the Hacienda, Dunes, Landmark, Riviera and Stardust hotels.

Best Sound Editing: Due to its soundtrack from the Grateful Dead’s Mickey Hart and Indian tabla sensation Zakir Hussain, the winner is the erupting volcano at the Mirage.

Best Fictional Feature Film: And the winner is Ocean’s Eleven (1960 and 2001) with Viva Las Vegas a close second (or is it third?).

Best Gambler in a Leading Casino: The Academy couldn’t find a current “whale” that was publicly known, so the award goes posthumously to Kerry Packer.

Best Group Performance in a Buffet Line: Has to be the Osmonds. They know manners. (The Jonas Brothers as runner-up).

Best Foreign Language Casino: Has to be Paris Las Vegas. Absolument!

Best Original Score: And the winner is Phil Ruffin, whose $825 million offer for Circus Circus was accepted in a handshake deal with then MGM Chairman and CEO Jim Murren in 2019. That part of the Strip has been growing ever since. Now, that’s a score!

While these are representative of Vegas honors, the real winner remains Oscar Goodman, who will get his own special award for making this column possible.

Good night from the Academy—see you next year!

Articles by Author: Ira David Sternberg

Ira David Sternberg is host of “Talk About Las Vegas With Ira,” a weekly podcast that features engaging conversations with celebrities, entertainers, writers, and personalities. He is a veteran casino publicist with executive experience at the Tropicana and Las Vegas Hilton, as well as a writer and broadcaster. Listen to Ira’s weekly shows at He can be reached at