Is Vegas changing 'mecca for forbidden pleasures' reputation?

Feb 20, 2018 3:11 AM

Las Vegas built its reputation as a “mecca for forbidden pleasures.” However, is the casino/resort industry headed in a different direction? We could soon see numerous changes right here as casino/resort operation continues to become less and less of a niche industry and matures into a more mainstream endeavor.

Is it possible the days of the provocatively dressed acocktail servers in nearly all casinos may soon be gone? Will the ring girls at boxing and MMA events become a thing of the past? Might we never again see former Mayor Oscar Goodman, gin in hand, side-by-side with sexy showgirls at various ribbon cuttings? Could the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) – now chaired for the first time by a woman, Becky Harris – encourage licensees not to attend conventions and trade shows that employ scantily clad women?

Changes such as these would certainly impact Las Vegas as we know it. Can Las Vegas sustain its current growth spurt if it is no longer the mecca for forbidden pleasures?

It’s unclear if Harris in her new role as one of Nevada’s top regulators and chair of the NGCB might push for changes such as these and if she did, how would they impact the state’s gambling industry?

As Lisen Stromberg, COO of the 3 Percent Movement, an organization promoting gender equality in advertising companies, recently told The Associated Press in an article about female-led companies, “Just having a female-led board is not enough of a solution. You need to disrupt the disease within the culture and that is an entire ecosystem change.”

Could that ecosystem change be coming to Las Vegas?

What can we expect?

The recently concluded ICE Totally Gaming conference and trade show in London may give us some clues because Britain’s lead gambling regulator Sarah Harrison says the Gambling Commission she now leads could be boycotting shows such as these because scantily clad women are “unacceptable” at a betting industry conference,

Harrison told the BBC some women working at the ICE Totally Gaming event were wearing “little more than swimsuits,” while men wore business suits. Harrison says the Gambling Commission may no longer attend future ICE Totally Gaming events if this practice doesn’t change.

Kate Chambers, managing director of ICE London, counters that the complaint was directed at a “very small” number of firms taking part.

She added that the show has been encouraging exhibitors to represent women more respectfully.

ICE Total Gaming conducted the three-day event earlier this month, providing an international showcase for the gambling industry. Wagering companies, technology providers, and casino operators heavily attended it.

“This isn’t about political correctness,” Harrison said, “it’s about good regulation and good governance, because businesses that have a more diverse workforce are more likely to make better decisions. And that’s critical from a regulator’s point of view.”

She continued, “Given our focus is on fairer and safer gambling, businesses that look more like their customers are much more likely to be able to put in place the protections and the safeguards that we are really focused on.”

Harrison, who is leaving the Gambling Commission for a different government position, was a featured speaker at the ICE event and further told BBC Radio, “Yet, from walking around the exhibition you wouldn’t know this. Any future participation by the Gambling Commission in events like this will depend on there being change.”

The BBC also noted the Professional Darts Corporation ended its long-standing tradition of employing women to walk with male players to the stage and Formula One has also terminated the “grid girls” models who stand next to drivers before races.

Changes such as these could be on the way in Las Vegas. How they might change the way casino/resorts conduct their business is unknown. What is known is Las Vegas is certainly not immune to revision, updating and evolution to prepare for the future.