“It really is all about jobs,” my friend was saying, “here, there, wherever. The net result has been a positive for Las Vegas, what with the fancy cross-marketing computer-driven gimmicks companies are using now.”
I’m guessing he was waiting for me to say something intelligent but all I managed was, “hmmmm.”
So he continued down the path he was on.
“It will probably be awhile before anything big gets built in Las Vegas,” he said, “but have you considered what the export of Nevada’s most important product – gaming and entertainment – has returned to Las Vegas?
“Even with the generally lousy shape of the travel and entertainment business these last several years, companies are spending money in Las Vegas that they have made elsewhere – Singapore, Macau or elsewhere. It keeps people working.”
A still-busy veteran of the gaming and entertainment business, he sucked me into his game of questions and answers during a recent phone conversation, reminding me how times have changed over the last decade or so, or since Kirk Kerkorian decided more than 60 years ago Las Vegas was his kind of place.
“And do you remember when it was the gambling business?” he laughed. “There wasn’t any of this gaming and entertainment talk and whoever heard of an integrated resort?” Putting some emphasis on those two words, he made a point about the process of change and the evolution of concepts.
He had me thinking about possible material for a column as I recalled recent sound bites from the likes of Gary Loveman, Jim Murren and Steve Wynn that seemed to parallel his thinking.
“We’ve exported a lot of product based on thinking refined here in Nevada.” He ticked off ideas that included the original Caesars Palace, The Mirage, Sheldon Adelson’s convention-oriented complex and the invention of upscale shopping malls.
“They’ve brought lots of jobs to other states and countries. Businesses here (in Nevada) suffered as the economy got beat up, but the new joints – I mean those integrated resorts – have been marketed in a way that is introducing Las Vegas to business it might otherwise never have known.”
And he urged me to think about the companies that have headquartered themselves here, not because of the size of the slot drop or the number of visitors but because, well…Las Vegas is Las Vegas. It’s where all the best ideas have been born and tested to the point they became ready for use elsewhere.
The gaming and entertainment or gambling business, has become part of a very global economy and Las Vegas is meeting new customers thanks to the fact freshly minted examples of its most important product are in places other than Las Vegas.
He gave me a moment to think about that before concluding, “It really is all about jobs and entrepreneurs having confidence enough to keep moving forward…
“If it were not for the best efforts of people who have given Las Vegas all they had over the last 50 years, we’d never have developed the products that have grabbed the attention of developers and politicians from New Jersey to Macau.”
Phil Hevener has been writing about the Nevada gaming business for more than 30 years. He can be reached at [email protected].