Blue Byline

A cop's perspective of the news and South Sound matters

Sin City still sizzles

Post by Brian O'Neill on Oct. 18, 2011 at 10:08 pm with 7 Comments »
October 19, 2011 7:39 am
Las Vegas strip

I ask you, in all the wide world is there anyplace quite like Las Vegas?

I just returned from a 3-day trip to Sin City where the sun is shining, the dice are rolling and that sucking sound is the noise of money escaping one’s wallet. Nothing is cheap in Vegas, not even the free stuff.

But while I did return with less green in my pocket and more red on my face (and shoulders and back), I still had a great vacation.

Las Vegas is a town with something for everybody whether you’re a gambler (I’m not), a hiker (nope), NASCAR enthusist (double nope) or the kind of person who might take a cool drink by the side of the pool (ding-ding-ding, we have a winner!).

I mention all this not as commercial but by way of an introduction to a fiscal reality check. If you’ve been keeping tabs on the national economy then you’re already aware that Las Vegas is buried in a financial hole roughly as deep and wide as the Grand Canyon just down the road.

I have made these 3-day trips more than a few times over the years (any longer and Vegas will suck you in) and grown accustomed to the town’s usual frenzy of commerce. I’ve seen mimes picking people’s pockets, con men luring hapless retirees into time shares, cross-dressing men (I think) in G-strings roller-blading down Las Vegas Boulevard with advertisements on their backs. And, of course, there was always the ever-present sex industry brochures that droves of migrant workers would advertise by slapping one against another and then try to shove in your pocket.

I never thought anything could slow down the pace of Vegas, but this economy seems to have taken some of the swagger out of the city’s stride. Crowds are smaller, slot machines stand idle and fewer sex brochures are being forced on passersby at street corners. Where once huge herds of gamblers stumbled from one gaming hall to the next, now the only mass movement of people are to the free shows like the fountain at Bellagio and the pirates at Treasure Island.

Yet here’s where Las Vegas demonstrates its prowess at reinvention. Despite this never-ending financial free-fall, Vegas always seems to find a way to be relevant.

For example, as my cab pulled away on the first leg of my trip home (and a 30 degree drop in temperature), I looked up at the Venetian Hotel and saw a huge banner advertising the Republican National Debate taking place tonight. The cab driver was very excited about the crowds arriving for this event and the economic windfall this would mean for Vegas.

Further along the driver pointed towards a UNLV sports facility and mentioned that a major pro rodeo event would be held there in December. He explained, in a reverential tone, that December is a dead month in town and that this rodeo would be saving a lot of jobs.

Whether we like it or not, the entrepreneurial style that Vegas was built upon, and which keeps it vital still, is quintessentially American. The creed upon which it operates is simple: Jettison what isn’t working, double-down on things that do work, and then think up something new and exciting.

Vegas has always been good at finding ways to lure us in and take our money. The trick is making so many of us want to come back and do it again.

Leave a comment Comments → 7
  1. BlaineCGarver says:

    America is just like that….can you imagine how hard “The Government” has it’s boot on the neck of business and money right now to prevent that admirable trait from jump start a stumbling recovery?
    I have little or no respect for the mod in OWS, but even in a 10 ton pile of BS, there are viable seeds that could root and change things around. For a start, instead of a means test for SS, let’s means test welfare?? Let’s means test all the billions going to anchor babies and their illegal parents.

  2. DavidAnderson says:

    As a police officer, concerned with public safety, it should concern you that Nevada ranked 1st as “Most Dangerous State in the Nation”; 1st in Suicides; 1st in Divorce; 1st in Prostitution; 1st in Women Killed by Men; and less surprisingly, 1st in Gambling Addiction.

    While you write of “fiscal reality check” and “the relevancy” of Vegas’ economy and its entrepreneurial spirit, a team of professors at Creighton University (2008) – who discovered Nevada’s dubious distinction in the national rankings just cited – were actually researching bankruptcy rates. Nevada was 4th in the nation.

    While you were stopping by the pool for a drink of water, adults-only (cess)pools at the Rio and Sapphire were offering strippers by the pool.

    While you were having “a great vacation”, given Nevada ranks 4th in deaths by firearms, someone down the street may well have been dying from gunshot wounds.

    “The creed upon which (Vegas) operates is simple,” you wrote. “Jettison what isn’t working, double-down on things that do work, and then think up something new and exciting.”

    Change “creed” to ‘greed’ and you’ve got it right.

    There is “a new trend in Vegas, where casinos like the Rio, owned by Harrah’s Entertainment Inc, are always looking for new ways to make money, especially in the current downturn.” Sapphire Senior Vice President John Lee continues, “All of the casinos are trying to get gentlemen’s club-type entertainment without actually crossing that line.” (Reuters, Sept.22, 2008)

    Your “Blue Byline” just crossed that line.

  3. Brian O'Neill says:

    Your point is well taken, David. There’s lots of organized crime, narcotics and gun violence in Nevada. But at some point you gotta put the job aside and get some R and R.

  4. DavidAnderson says:

    Guilty by association.

  5. Brian O'Neill says:

    Hey David- perhaps you should consider a vacation yourself. You seem tense.

  6. DavidAnderson says:

    Don’t miss the point here Brian. You were extolling the virtues of Lost Wages. And doing so as a police officer. This is commendable?

  7. Brian O'Neill says:

    David- You misunderstand. I did not visit Vegas as a police officer but as a tourist. From that perspective I appreciated this town’s ability to continually offer new and interesting ways to keep people entertained. In short, I was on a day off.

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