All That Glitters
Let the double dip begin: Gambling winnings on the Las Vegas Strip fell in May by 6.3 percent with Baccarat and sports books taking the biggest hits. The Nevada Gaming Control Board reported today that the 41 casinos on the Strip won $450.1 million before taxes and expenses and it was the second month of a decline after two months of increases in gaming revenue. The 6.3 percent drop compares to a soft May 2009, when revenues were down 6.4 percent on the Strip. Check out the article on the Las Vegas Sun here. Yet, ironically.
The number of visitors to Las Vegas was up 2 percent in May compared to the same month last year, according to numbers released today from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. In May, the Las Vegas area had 3,262,831 visitors, the LVCVA said. In May 2009, the region had 3,199,719 visitors. May was the ninth consecutive month of increased visitors compared to a year earlier, according to the LVCVA. Check out the article on the Las Vegas Sun here.
To summarize, Tourism is up 2% while gaming win is down 6%
It looks like we are queuing up for round 2 of the recession.
Of paramount concern is the Baccarat numbers. This is a game overwhelmingly played by moneyed Asian tourists, and for the past year, it has propped the city up when every other form of betting was falling down around us. It now looks like even this demographic is starting to show cracks.
While the city continues to pack people in with ultra-low room rates, those same people continue to gamble much less once they get here. This is not a pattern I see reversing anytime soon. 10,000 has acted like gravity for the Dow, and it's almost unconscionable to realize that money invested in the market exactly 10 years ago has provided absolutely no return. Not only has it provided no return, but the value of the underlying cash in a basket of indices has been significantly reduced by inflation. If the market doesn't go up by at least 3% per year, you actually lose purchasing power.
Obviously, the winner in the current paradigm is the casual Vegas visitor who just wants to get away for awhile without spending a ton of money on airfare and hotels. The city is a goddamn bargain if you know what you are doing.
Room rates are getting to a point where I want to be a tourist again. While researching airfare to Seattle this past weekend, I found round-trip, non-stop fares as low as $250. This, combined with sub-$100 hotel rooms means that it could be less expensive to blog about Las Vegas from a less oppressive city. Hell, my electric bill this month is going to be $400, and that alone could now pay for a weekend vacation here.
Part of me feels like a broken record. I feel as if I have said everything there is to say about living here, and now I am simply repeating myself. I've taken goddamn near every picture there is to be taken, and I now just leave my camera behind when I go out.
After 5+ years of living here, I find myself once again craving the tourist perspective. I miss the process. Flying in, hailing a cab, checking-in, negotiating a better room (without some dumbass "$20 trick"), watching in-room porn and then later disputing it as a mistaken button press, getting comped meals and discounted specials in the mail ... I used to love this town. Part of me can't help but wonder if I might be able to love it again. If it wasn't in my face every day, financially raping me at every turn, telling me to go fuck myself with every human encounter, I could probably see this valley as something other than the soul-draining hellhole that it is.
I think I could actually blog about it better by flying in a couple of times each month. Perhaps it would even be more relatable to the average reader ... most of whom also fly in. I could once again go down the list, staying in every hotel, reviewing each and every one of them with complete honesty. Let's face it, nobody wants to hear about the latest pizza joint opening in Rexville, they want to read about the Vegas visiting process, from beginning to end.
I've gotten several pieces of contact in the last few weeks with people unhappy that I am complaining about Las Vegas so much. They want more pictures. They want more boobs. They want more happy happy joy joy.
The problem is ... I'm not your fucking dancing monkey. I can't fake it. There are ten thousand faux-blogs that do the cheerleader thing, but my stuff is literally from the gut. If I'm feeling it, I'm feeling it, if I'm not, I'm not. This is the VegasRex show, and that includes the good, bad, and the ugly. During the months of July, August, and September, I suffer a great deal of apathy and depression, and I can no longer pretend to be happy just because some chick walks by in a barely-there bikini. It used to be enough, but it's not anymore. I'm jaded to everything in this town. Because of this, I have finally made a decision.
I will not spend another summer in Las Vegas. I cannot, and I will not.
I would like to once again experience Vegas without hatred, throw up live photos throughout the trip, and write the article later in a room less than 85 degrees in temperature. I could probably pay for the entire trip in the Mandalay Bay poker room, barring a hideous run of cards or a string of bad beats.
If rates stay as cheap as they are now, and I have every reason to believe that they will stay at this level ... if not go lower ... then I almost feel as if living here is a waste. My cost basis is going up, and I am not having nearly as much fun here as I used to.
Rekindling my relationship with this town by once again seeing it for what it is, a tourist destination instead of an actual city, is something that I am going to do.
In the meantime, I will still endeavor to make the best of it. Just like our local penny-pinching tourists who have found that all that glitters is not gold at the 6:5 crap jack tables.
It's a nice place to visit, but you don't want to live here.
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