Wedding Bells and Slot Ca-Ching

Las Vegas Wedding Chapel

Marriage for everyone will happen sooner or a little bit later in Nevada, either the Federal courts will strike down Nevada’s restrictive marriage provisions or the efforts to pass Joint Resolution 13 will be ultimately successful. [more at LVRJ]   Aside from the tenuous arguments offered by the right wing Coalition for the Protection of Marriage, there aren’t many reasons to oppose Marriages, Lots and Lots and Lots of Marriages in Nevada.

Let’s start with the 100 or so marriage chapels in the Las Vegas area, in addition to the ones in the Reno/Sparks area.  And, we are not discussing nickels and dimes here:

“According to economist M.V. Lee Badgett, research director of the Williams Institute for Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy at UCLA, legalizing gay marriage would generate $23 million to $52 million in business revenue and $1.8 million to $4.2 million in tax revenue over the next three years in Nevada.”  [LVSun]

Ca-Ching! Additionally, there’s a hint in the Las Vegas Sun article about the nature of tourism in Nevada when one person interviewed said, “Las Vegas is an event town.”   It’s time to consider a Tale of Two Cities?

The Boardwalk or walking the plank?

Atlantic City, NJ is about to witness the closing of more casinos and the opening of a massive unemployment filing “event” in the Atlantic City Convention Center. [StarLedger]  There were 12 casinos in the city and now there will be 8, with about 8,000 people looking for work.  The reason might be said to be in gaming revenues, $5 billion in 2006, down to $2.6 billion today. [BusIns]  This is true, in part, and true, but other factors need to be included in the discussion.

Regional Competition:  Bally’s opened in Atlantic City in 1979.  Foxwood didn’t exist, the Mohegan Sun Casino Resort didn’t either.  The casino business hadn’t expanded to Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Maine.  Even New York is getting into the act at the Aqueduct . Atlantic City was going to be the Las Vegas of the East? Gaming was going to be recession proof, and Atlantic City’s casinos were going to give Vegas a run for its money?  However, the loss of jobs,  the stagnation of wages, the increasing number of people employed in part-time jobs with lower incomes dispelled the recession-proof myth amidst a wave of regional competition.

Atlantic City may want to blame its problems on regional competition, but it may be missing another crucial point – one illustrated by the simple declaration that Las Vegas is an Event Town.

Las Vegas also faces regional competition.  California has 68  Native American casinos, and another 90 poker casinos.  [500Nations] Since Nevada’s proximity to a well populated state is often given as a reason for the success of its gaming industry why didn’t the opening of regional competition create the same financial havoc for Las Vegas and environs?

The Fine Art of Reinvention

Yes, once upon a time the casinos in Las Vegas only needed to be… casinos. Busloads of $60 bettors could keep the slots jingling and the tables occupied.  However, since Nevada could never rely on its own population to keep those slots ringing and tables filled, there’s a history (and plenty of practice) of selling ourselves as an entertainment option.

Remember the old Sands? The Alladin? The Jackpot? The original Hacienda? The Stardust?  The Desert Inn and the Dunes?  There’s nothing like a lovely implosion, demolition, and re-construction to illustrate how Las Vegas kept the travelers coming.  If some venue is getting out of style, away from the trends, behind in the  running for entertainment dollars – then it’s time for the implosion, and the demolition, and the re-construction.  Where else but Las Vegas might one expect guided tours of a Sign Cemetery (otherwise known as the Neon Museum?) However, there’s more to the process than just a periodic facelift to keep the dowagers functioning.

Nevada understood, and still seems to understand, that we are competing for people’s entertainment dollars.   If we consider eating as a form of entertainment, then the city with the most variety can be predicted to land in the winners side of the ledger.  Pity Atlantic City, with the world class restaurants and neighborhood bistros of Manhattan next door, trying to compete with the gourmet and specialty fare in New York City. 

On the other side of the country,  there’s Joel Robuchon’s  on the Strip, complete with a celebrity chef, and a menu which will take a couple of Benjamins out of the billfold, next door to ….. ?  For every Zagat rated restaurant there are others, renovated to appeal to the Three Star budget, a trend across the country as the competition for that entertainment dollar becomes hotter. [CEM]

And, that’s the point – those entertainment dollars – Do people want an iPad gaming lounge? – then renovate and build one.  Do people want a more varied assortment of entertainment? – then book it.   Frank Fahrenkopf, Jr. summed it up:

“Today, F&B and entertainment options within casinos have become the great differentiators in our market.  Today’s typical casino customer does not come to Las Vegas merely to gamble.  In fact, many do not gamble at all.  Instead, celebrity chefs, star entertainers, innovative menus, luxurious rooms and level of service – both on and off the casino floor – distinguish each property.”

And, might we add – Weddings?  If Nevada can re-invent and re-construct its casinos, renovate and transform its restaurants, even figure out how to make a tourist destination out of a lot-load of old neon signs – then it can surely consider adding another reason for people to spend those entertainment dollars in Las Vegas and elsewhere – more weddings!  Where else could the happy couple – of any and all gender orientations – experience an Elvis Wedding, A Hot August Nights Wedding, A Doo Wop Reception, or a really creative Halloween Wedding?   Make your wedding a real event –  after all, Las Vegas is an “event town.” * Please remember to bring your checkbook, cash, and credit cards.

3 Comments

Filed under Economy, gay issues, Nevada economy, nevada taxation

3 responses to “Wedding Bells and Slot Ca-Ching

  1. Yes, but who will we get as our equivalent of a fake Elvis for straights? (Can’t use anyone living — because they may be appearing down the street, so forget Elton or Melissa or Neil Patrick.) The older couples would probably love Liberace, everybody would enjoy being married by Alan Sues or Paul Lynde, if they had a sense of humor — which usually lasts at least to the end of the honeymoon (I’m in a cynical mood today).

    But it is Gay Republicans who have the best choice of all. Can you imagine the extra pleasure in being married by a Genuine Imitation J. Edgar Hoover?

    • And
      I forgot to show concern for the lesbian couples — though nothing comes to mind for GOP-leaners. But sensible ones can choose from Eleanor Roosevelt look-alikes to Pearl Bailey, Barbara Jordan — c’mon, join in…

  2. I like the Liberace for the elders, and Neil Patrick Harris. And the J. Edgar Hoover suggesting left me gasping for breath!🙂