Yesterday morning, after I read about the second homicide on the Strip in less than two weeks, I decided to write a short piece for Two Way Hard Three about why it was important for the County and Metro to get in front of the issue:
But most people have the perception–or at least the hope–that they’ll get lucky, or at least have a swingin’ time ending up broke. So, despite millions of visitors proving that regression to the mean is a money-making concept each year, people continue to gamble in Vegas–and buy lottery tickets, pick ponies, and visit casinos around the world.
When deciding what to do for fun, vacationers have no problem choosing perception over reality.
That’s worked to Vegas’ advantage, but what happens when perceptions shift from fun to fearful?
Early this morning, after a fight at O’Shea’s casino, a third visitor to the Strip is dead. By late this afternoon, Metro had announced it was shifting resources in response to concerns that the Strip has become unsafe.
I think this is a start, but I think that, given the Strip corridor’s high profile and critical importance to the state as a whole (gaming revenues from the Strip account for more than 50% of the state’s total), it might be time to strategically rethink law and order on the Strip.
In the piece I briefly discuss how a “broken windows” approach might be the right idea. It worked in New York City in the 1990s (read this City Journal article to get the specifics) and I’ve been advocating its use Downtown for a while now (I remember talking about “nuisance abatement” on a Vegas Gang quite some time ago).
On the surface the recent murder spree on the Strip seems to be three cases of (allegedly) alcohol-fueled violence ending in death, but the bigger question remains: why do people suddenly feel like anything goes on the Strip? I think the general feeling of encroaching lawlessness that others have noted over the past few months has something to do with it.
I had an interesting Twitter exchange this morning with Resorts CEO Dennis C. Gomes, who’s been focused in Atlantic City but who spent much of his career in Nevada, about the pedestrian safety issue, which he agrees “has become a major issue.”
When I asked him what he thought, as a casino operator, the Strip operators should do, he replied that, “It is more a matter of Strip properties taking the initiative which will happen if their revenue becomes threatened.”
Clearly something’s been happening behind the scenes, and it’s good that Metro is trying to get the Strip under control. Ultimately, I think that the casinos and the county will have to work together–strategically, not just in response to flare-ups of violence–to make the Strip corridor feel safer and, more importantly, actually be safer.