OK, full disclosure: I did gamble, but not much. I lost maybe $15-20, but with the comps I came out ahead, though it didn’t feel like it. I said I didn’t come to gamble, and…well, the “new Las Vegas” helped in keeping me away from the tables and the slots. And that’s why the trip was a downer. Let me explain…
I missed the glory days of the mob-era, when anything you needed could be had by guys named Artie or Vinnie, and the casino lost money everywhere BUT at the tables, as they knew that the money there was a sure thing. I came of age, gambling-wise, in the 80’s and 90’s, when the employers I worked for seemed to have a convention in Vegas every year or more often, and the suits were starting to take over the casinos. It was the era of the themed resort – circuses, tropical paradise, New York, Paris…even a damn pyramid! Rooms and meals were still cheap, but they casino also took your dough with the shows (Siegfried and Roy, the first Cirque de Soleil, etc.). After all, there were investors to consider.
Flash forward to this trip – I haven’t been to Las Vegas in 13 years (most of my gambling now done online or at one of two nearby Indian casinos). I had been told that things were different.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s no other place on earth like it. Las Vegas always seems to be re-inventing itself, and trying to top itself. Maybe they have…but I don’t like it, and I really don’t think they encourage you to gamble like in the old days.
Two things stand out that make me NOT want to play. First off, the music. Yes, I’m a child of Motown, and love jazz, classical, the disco era…just about any type of music…except today’s modern rave/dance/thump-thump-thump stuff. This would be appropriate in the casino at night, when they’re trying to attract the younger set, but at 7:30am, when 90% of your buffet line is aged 55+…it’s not the right call. It’s everywhere – casino, restaurants, lobby, and in the new City Center area, on the damn sidewalks. And it’s loud. I mean really, really loud. I sound like an old man I know, but it was hard to carry on a conversation at the table, hard to concentrate, and just not inviting. I can’t believe management thinks this is a good move, and I only saw a fairly full casino floor one night (Saturday)…most other nights they were lucky to have 30% of the tables going, and half the slots. Just didn’t seem as lively as in days of old.
The other negative thing? Ads, everywhere. Yes, Vegas has always been self-promotion crazy – billboards, busboards, taxi toppers, and some of the biggest electronic signs anywhere (I’m looking at YOU, Aria). But…you know those little placards on the table that tell you what the high/low betting limits are? They’re electronic now, and…they got ads. Just about everywhere you look inside (and out) the casino, there’s an ad screaming at you to spend some money. No, I mean EVERYWHERE. See pic.
So yeah, Vegas is an exciting place, nowhere else like it on earth, and I think it might be another 13 years before I go back. Unless they turn down the volume a bit.