An approach they won’t use

Sheldon Adelson’s drive to find America’s most boring city notwithstanding, most people agree that Las Vegas’ tourist strategy might need a little tweak. Should the town emphasize value, or carefree fun? It’s a serious question.

Here’s one approach that I don’t think we’ll be dusting off anytime soon: Las Vegas, home of weapons of mass destruction.
nuclear tourism

Yes, that is a real postcard dating from the 1950s, when above-ground nuclear tests were one of the top tourists attractions in town. This is not an accurate representation since the test site was north-east, not due west, but I guess a mushroom cloud blossoming over the Union Pacific depot was considered more photogenic.

Man, we were into some weird stuff fifty years ago. I shudder at what they’ll think of us fifty years from now.

More pessimism from the past

Doing some research for my epochal article on the Strip’s recovery from the travails of the early 1980s, I found this quote in a Boston Globe Magazine article written by Connie Paige:

This year’s visit…was different. Life seemed to have switched into neutral. Snatches of conversation with some of the army of casino workers…soon made the difference clear: unemployment was way up, business was off, the prospects for recovery uncertain. The people of Las Vegas, ordinarily carefree, were worried about the future. In short, Las Vegas was in the throes of the Great Recession of 1982.

The article appeared in July of 1989, and it is bleak. It’s sobering to think how giddy everyone was eight years later.

As I hope to demonstrate in the article, the key to recovery is adapting to the new conditions, whatever they may be.

More AC gloom

Things in Atlantic City are just as bad as in Las Vegas, only on a slower, small scale, just like when things were good they were slightly less good than out in Vegas. That’s my analysis. For the story, check out Fox News:

One casino in the nation's second largest gambling market is being run by a state trustee, another may be foreclosed on and three others are facing down bankruptcy.

Hope for Atlantic City always seemed to keep flickering, though, as long as Revel Entertainment forged ahead building a $2 billion casino and hotel.

No more. The company this week laid off 400 of its 1,100 workers and stopped work on the interior of Revel," its first-ever project, reflecting the broad decline under way in national and global gambling markets.

"This is a blow to Atlantic City's psyche," said Joe Weinert, senior vice president of Spectrum Gaming Group, a New Jersey casino consulting firm. "After enduring a series of difficulties throughout 2008, Revel stood out as a rising symbol of better times to come in the very near future.

"Unfortunately for the city and its gaming industry, the project — like many others from Las Vegas to Connecticut to Macau — is a victim of the recession," he said. "The good news is that Revel seems committed to ultimately seeing this project through."

This week's cuts add Revel — an Atlantic City company partnered with Wall Street's Morgan Stanley — to a long list of companies that hoped to participate in the biggest expansion of gambling in Atlantic City since it was legalized here 31 years ago. Gambling's decline in Atlantic City is almost as pronounced as in Las Vegas, home to the world's four largest gambling companies.

In Atlantic City, Pinnacle Entertainment has been sitting on prime Boardwalk real estate since it imploded the historic Sands Casino Hotel in October 2007. The project is on indefinite hold, and Pinnacle has said it might sell the land if a buyer materialized.

FOXNews.com – Atlantic City Feels Pain of Global Casino Decline.

I kept the quote long because I wanted to riff on that last bit. What’s all this about a buyer “materializing?” Is it going to be Doctor Who showing up in the Tardis? Pinnacle better hope the dimensional stabilizer isn’t out of whack, otherwise he might end up on Metebelis III instead.

Guess the year

Can you guess the year that an article appeared in Forbes magazine with these quotes?

— “Las Vegas is showing signs that it is becoming overbuilt.”

–“With traffic growing more slowly than capacity, older casinos have been hurting. Atlantic City casinos fared much worse last year.”

— “Steve Wynn put it this way: ‘The old formulas don’t work anymore. Customers won’t come just to see a Sinatra. You’ve got to give them an entire resort experience with spectacular scenery.”

–“Nevada Gaming Board [sic] data show that 42% of Las Vegas’s casinos were unprofitable last year. Casino bond issues totaling $612 million are in deafult with a number of others on shaky ground.”

Read after the break for the answer…. Continue reading “Guess the year”