The Hard Rock Hotel + The Playboy Tower = Jann Wenner’s Next Great Idea

Meet the new Fishbowl, same as the old one… at least for a day or two, as we attempt to clear out the remainders of Rachel’s pet projects. (A multi-jump interview with Dave Zinczenko, anyone?) Rachel is only a voice in our head at this point (“Doug Vogt is actually Canadian!” she whispers) but we’re still here, “we” being two Mediabistro full-timers — editorial director Dorian Benkoil and managing editor Aileen Gallagher — and myself.

I’d post some sort of formal introduction, but Gawker should have an update on my career trajectory up by this afternoon, so there’s really no need. (UPDATE: I told you so.)

But enough about us — Jann Wenner is building a Rolling Stone casino! The news is via Gabriel Sherman at The New York Observer today. Wenner’s apparently in the early planning stages of licensing his magazine’s name to a $500 million casino off The Strip, nestled in a stretch of Harmon Avenue near the new Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, the forthcoming W Hotel and Casino, the troubled Las Ramblas hotel/condos/casino that essentially licensed George Clooney’s charisma and, of course, Wenner’s presumed archrival, the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.

Why a Rolling Stone Casino? Because the magazine, just like its founder, has quietly moved past middle age into — how shall we say it? — a modern maturity, in which it might just be time to rest on one’s laurels. Licensing the name to a casino capable of attracting Kanye West or U2 for a top-dollar concert (as Wenner expects to do) is practically free money.

Wenner should call Christie Hefner for some advice. Playboy is already headed down this path, what with The Playboy Tower opening on The Strip as a casino/club adjunct to The Palms this spring. Just a few years ago, Hefner was adamant that Playboy Enterprises would keep applying the paddles to the magazine (new editors, etc.) until it had a heartbeat and started growing again, but now it seems that she and papa Hef are resigned to milking the majority of the company’s profits from licensing revenues — the Tower and Playboy store in Vegas, another store in Melbourne, a megaclub in Shanghai, and plans for many, many more. (See for yourself in Christie Hefner’s presentation to analysts last fall.)

If Jann wants to go the same way, that’s fine with us, as long as there are wolverines flying overhead when we visit.