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Sin City: Has Razzle, Lacks Dazzle

Written by Bill Toland on .

... so says the PG's TV critic, Rob Owen, who paid a visit to post-housing-sector-meltdown Las Vegas:

"The most obvious sign of the economic downturn has to be the storied and now shuttered Sahara Casino and Resort, which closed in May 2011 and is now surrounded by a chain-link fence. The Sahara is at the north end of The Strip -- the portion of Las Vegas Boulevard that's taken the brunt of the economic decline. Developers demolished blocks of old Rat Pack-era casinos to make way for newer, cooler resorts that never came to fruition. Now several dusty, empty blocks separate Circus Circus -- a hotel and casino that has the largest, permanent big top in the world -- from any real development." (PG)

Yeah, that's gotta hurt property values. No such problem on Pittsburgh's North Shore, where Rivers Casino learns of its "new" property assessment (should those new values ever take effect):

"One that wasn't lucky in the reassessment was the Rivers Casino. It is still fighting in court to lower the $199.5 million assessment the county placed on the property in 2010.But that didn't stop the county from raising it again this time around, to $242 million." (PG)

... While Vegas and Atlantic City continue to flail around, many other gaming markets seem to be doing better, inlcluding Detroit's:

"Detroit's three casinos rolled to their second straight year of improved business in 2011 and are poised to benefit this year from a strengthening economy if they adapt to new gaming competition scheduled to open in neighboring Ohio, a national gaming expert said. The trio's revenues rose 3.4 percent to $1.42 billion for the year, lagging other states in the Midwest that opened new casinos last year but well ahead of other gaming areas." (Detroit News)

Detroit's unemployment rate at the end of 2011 (actually, the metro unemployment rate in Detroit-Warren-Livonia): 9.5 percent. Unemployment rate in Las Vegas-Paradise metro area: 12.5 percent.  Obviously there are some supply and demand issues at play ther: Detroit's metro population has remained stagnant for the last three decades (the city's population has, of course, shrunk), while Las Vegas' population has spent the last two decades growing.

But both regions saw their labor force shrink over the last yea, too. So it's not as if Las Vegas' high unemployment is being totally driven by an increasing labor force, at least not lately.

Casinos, casinos everywhere

Miami wants a casino (or at least, the casino companies want Miami to want a casino): "Two of the world's largest casino operators promise major boosts to tourism if they can open resorts in downtown Miami. But how much help does the vacation industry need? Hotels, restaurants and other tourism businesses in Miami-Dade now employ more people than they did before the recession. Among the country's top hotel markets, only Nashville and San Francisco saw a bigger boost in revenue from hotel rooms than in Miami-Dade, where the measure is up 14 percent this year." (Miami Herald)

... Massachusetts wants a casino: " The competition for the sole resort casino license in western Massachusetts intensified Thursday, as MGM Resorts International announced a plan to purchase 150 acres of land in the small town of Brimfield. The Las Vegas casino company said it would seek to develop a 'world-class resort' on the site, some 65 miles from Boston near the Massachusetts Turnpike." (AP, via Business Week)

They're all world-class resort casinos, aren't they? Wasn't Rivers Casino supposed to be a world-class resort? I bet they said the same thing about Bill's Gamblin' Hall & Saloon when it opened in Vegas.

... Tulsa, Okla., does NOT want a casino: "An array of elected officials, school leaders and ministers publicly announced their opposition to a planned Indian casino at a rally that nearly filled the 1,300-seat sanctuary of a local church." (Tulsa World)

Wynn, Lose or Draw

Who wins the fight for Wynn?:

"A battle that erupted this week between Steve Wynn and a longtime business partner reveals turmoil within the casino mogul's global empire that could add to its challenges in the explosive Asian casino market. On Wednesday, the business partner, Kazuo Okada, a director and the biggest shareholder of Wynn Resorts Ltd., alleged in a lawsuit filed in Clark County District Court that he was blocked by Mr. Wynn from seeing the company's financial records after he contested the company's donation of $135 million to a university in Macau." (Wall Street Journal)

Odds and ends

Does Toronto want a casino? (Increased social problems! Bankruptcies! Gambling addictions! Etc., etc.) ... The Hollywood Casino in Toledo, Ohio, is having three job fairs this month ... of course, if you're hired, your start date is still up in the air: "The opening of casinos in Cleveland and Toledo will be delayed for several weeks, and likely much longer, because the required background checks on the gaming operators and vendors are well behind schedule."

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