People hate change, and they do not like to feel ripped off.
So when Las Vegas casino operators introduce changes that people feel are ripping them off (paid parking, resort fees, lower gambling payouts) it leads to claims on social media and elsewhere that the last straw has been reached and Las Vegas no longer holds an appeal.
Especially if they think they can get the good parts of Las Vegas closer to home anyway.
But Las Vegas still has its advantages, and they stand out in why visitors keep coming.
It’s why the Degenerate Social Club went out there in April. We may have to keep resort fees in mind, we may need to watch where we play blackjack, but we are still going. Here’s why.
1.Wide and Deep
Legalized gambling has spread all over the US. Especially as sports gambling liberalization looms on the horizon, it is easy to think that there is nothing in Las Vegas that you cannot get closer to home.
That is true for good cocktails, shows, dining, what have you. Your locale probably has an outlet for it.
The advantage in Las Vegas is how just how many of these options there are and how easy it is to get from one to another.
You may have more than one casino in your city. It is highly unlikely they are next door to one another.
Bourbon street in New Orleans is lined with bars and entertainment. It is 13 blocks long. Downtown Fremont Street in Las Vegas is a smaller 10 blocks, but clearly comparable.
But downtown is the small part of Las Vegas. From Mandalay Bay to Wynn Las Vegas on the Strip is 3.2 miles.
The Atlantic City boardwalk stretches that length, but has long gaps with no action, especially now that venues like the Atlantic Club and Trump Plaza are shuttered.
The mood in the principal tourist corridors of Las Vegas do not end at the door because the next place is right outside, and the options extend as far as you can see.
We spent our April trip entirely downtown moving from one casino to the next as our whims and luck carried us. Nowhere else does that happen.
Not only does the mood persist across space, it is continuous in time. There are definitely busier times of day, days of the week, and weeks of the year. But at any given time there are plenty of outlets. Dinner rolls into lounges and into nightclubs and into after hours clubs and from there to bloody marys at breakfast and then out to the pool parties.
When I think of where we can go and pack a lot into our time, Las Vegas still stands out.
New York is the city that doesn’t sleep. But it does put on work clothes in the morning. There are no work days in Las Vegas.
And what work there is revolves around the service industry and making visitors happy enough to leave their money behind.
The level of service is high because the service industry is the primary driver for the city and everyone knows it. Most everyone works in the service industry or has in the past or has a connection to it.
Even where the service may not warrant Michelin stars of AAA diamonds, the staff knows enough to be friendly. That is as much a part of the deep, wide, continuous mood as the density of venues.
Which make the mood contagious.
It starts on the flight. Hell for me it starts in the boarding area. Just being at an airport gate and hearing a departure to Las Vegas gets me thinking about what I might be doing there right now.
This is a feeling the frequent Las Vegas visitor knows well. It means they are more likely to dress to kill, undress for thrills, and spend at will.
There is a whole attitude that infects the Las Vegas visitors and it reinforces it in one another. They buy each other drinks, they make bets, they laugh, they flirt, and they do not think twice about it.
Which shows the real danger of Jim Murren claiming Las Vegas is a big city like other big cities and therefore can act like it with charging for parking and so on. It is a mistake to claim “Parking fees will be moderate when compared to similar fees in other markets.”
People are not coming because Las Vegas is “moderate when compared”. They think it is not like other cities. It would be wise for MGM and other operators to keep that illusion going.
Because once the infectious atmosphere and level of service declines, and the crowds do diminish, it won’t be long for gaps in the Strip to appear like they have in Atlantic City. And then one by one all those advantages listed above could go away.
But please not before our next trip.