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Certainty belongs only to youth. 

My two children have recently reached voting age and are starting to have doubts about the bigger questions in life, but it was just a few short years ago that my daughter Lily would say: “I’m positive, Dad. It’s a 100 percent sure thing.”

“Not even one percent of doubt?” I would inquire. 

“Nope,” she would say. “It’s a sure thing.”

As loyal readers of Gaming Today well know, there are no sure things. Even the Washington Generals won a game or two against the Harlem Globetrotters. 

As a guy in his sixties, I am less certain about anything today than I was as a younger man. The big difference in perspective between my kids and me is that they think, as they should, that they’ll live forever, while I’m reminded on a monthly basis that we are all just a trickle of blood or an insidious mutating cell inside our bodies away from the exit door.

When I attended college on a golf scholarship and had a fair amount of success my sophomore year, I thought it was a sure thing that I would make my living playing professional golf. One year later, two guys were recruited to our team who could beat me on a regular basis, and the only semi-sure thing was that I could one day land a job selling baskets of beat-up golf balls on an overgrown driving range. 

Forget about my becoming Tom Watson, whom I competed against in college. Think “Tin Cup.”

I was also told by several of my buddies in high school that a girl I invited to the senior prom was a sure thing. Once again, if you bet the under on that one, you would have cashed. She didn’t even go home with me. She caught a ride with a football jock. 

So the strongest language I’m willing to go with on the certainty scale these days is the term “highly likely.” Regarding Las Vegas, here are a few things I would consider to be highly likely:

• The phrase “Las Vegas is recession-proof” will never be uttered by civic analysts ever again. After the whacking that our gaming and housing industries took from 2008 to 2013, the idea that we were somehow insulated from economic hardship proved to be a total myth. 

After leading the nation in several positive categories for years — like convention business, new home sales, and tourism — we found ourselves at the top of depressing categories like foreclosure rates, suicides, and bankruptcies.

• It’s highly likely that we won’t have a bullet train running from Las Vegas to Los Angeles any time soon. I remember in the late 1970s animated discussions about a super train that could travel at 300 mph and make nonstop trips to Los Angeles in just over an hour. Forty years later, we’re still hearing those discussions. Whatever the projection date is, I’m betting the over.

• It’s highly likely that all those skeptics who thought the revitalization of downtown Las Vegas from a smudgy, outdated afterthought to a cultural signpost for the city would never happen have been permanently muzzled. 

Month after month we hear of great new developments occurring downtown. The provocative and intriguing projects that have appeared in the last dozen years are too many to list. I was one of the biggest skeptics on that issue. I’m delighted to say that I was dead wrong.

• It’s highly likely that all four major professional sport leagues will have teams in Las Vegas in the next 10 years. The incredible success of the Vegas Golden Knights has shattered the perception that this city would never support a professional franchise. 

With the Raiders coming in two years, my best guess is that the NBA will be here in five or six years and Major League Baseball within another decade. 

• While it’s highly likely that Las Vegas will never totally lose the moniker Sin City, the idea that this burg in the middle of nowhere exists only to satisfy the libidinous desires of those who live on the edge will be gradually erased as we continue to diversify industry and expand the boundaries of what’s achievable

• Finally, it’s highly likely that my family and friends next month will have a merry Christmas, and that some readers will be offended by my use of the word “Christmas.” On that last point, as my daughter used to say, it’s a sure thing.

About the Author

Jack Sheehan

Vegas Vibe columnist Jack Sheehan has lived in Las Vegas since 1976 and writes about the city for Gaming Today. He is the author of 28 books, over 1,000 magazine articles, and has sold four screenplays.

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