[Content Disclosure: Poker 0%, Las Vegas 15%, Dark Recesses 23%, Life 37%, Make Believe 44% but not pure]
Newsflash: "Officials Order Casino Facade Removed"
Yes that is the headline in Las Vegas this morning; the casino facade must be removed. We think they are talking about the Monte Carlo and what they need to do to reopen the casino and hotel after Friday's rooftop fire. But I have to wonder what Sin City would be like if facade really was removed.
A black glass pyramid in the desert; the Statue of Liberty, the Eiffel Tower, the Brooklyn Bridge; a Pirate Ship that sinks six times a day; an Atom Test Museum and, of course, an Elvis Museum. An indoor circus, rollercoasters attached to outside of buildings not one, not two but three of 'em. Alcohol for free and companions for rent. Oh and a chamber of commerce and several large entertainment corporations soliciting more and more visitors but..... these had to be the right kind of visitors.
I say this not only in the shadow of the tiresome "What happens in Vegas blah, blah, blah" but also in light of a survey I read recently that long-time visitors to Las Vegas are complaining about the modernization and corporatization of the city. Quite frankly the middle-class is being priced out of Las Vegas, which is a fairly short-sighted economic view that is actually being institutionalized with the new mega-resort complexes going up on the Strip. Average room prices now hover around $200 and that gets you the bed and the towels-period.
Las Vegas gave up on the family in the late 90's and now the middle-class and the retired boomers are being dropped as well. To enjoy Las Vegas these days, you need to want $200 bottles of vodka at 2 A.M. and lots of young skin, which by the way is for sale once again. Comps for rooms and food are disappearing and the slot machines are paying back less and less.
Gambling now accounts for less than half of Strip revenue and the corporations that own the Strip properties are building more and more of the same. One wonders if they have a business plan to offer 'Vegas on Sale' when the whole Fantasyland collapses? A Blue Light Special at Bellagio? How about a President's Day Sale at the Venetian? A mid-week check in at the Wynn gets you dinner with Steve?
MGM/Mirage has already sold its future to Dubai, I guess they think this is the right time to get in on the Middle East Oil boom. Middle American on the other hand are more and more heading to their local casino for a somewhat less opulent vacation but what does it matter, Las Vegas executives have made it clear the welcome mat isn't extended for them any more; not when the mat is $250 plus gratuity.
The land developers in Las Vegas did not see the coming real estate crash and it is here now with foreclousre auction ads splash across the television all weekend. Now it seems the casino and resort industry not only can't see the coming cliff but they are actually dashing towards it by catering exclusively to the new, young, hip crowd who have no retirement accounts to fund their next vacation. Diaka Vodka wise and Penny Slot foolish.