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Thread: The Fate of Las Vegas?

  1. #1
    Jul 2010
    San Francisco, CA + Surabaya, Indonesia

    The Fate of Las Vegas?

    So, I have a very near and dear friend who has been residing in Las Vegas for the last five years. (Context: He happens to have Muscular Dystrophy and very wealthy parents who divorced a number of years back. His mother relocated to LV and bought him a house. For that reason, and a lot of others, the city works quite well for him. But that is neither here nor there, I suppose.) I go visit him probably four to six times a year and as such have developed somewhat of a sick intellectual fascination with the hows and whys of that place. Moreover, I've been watching, in slow motion, its decline over the last couple of years as the economy has crashed.

    Of course, I'm sure all of you on this board are more than aware of this story: unless you've been living under a rock, it's been hard to miss, what with the interminable succession of stories about foreclosures and such. But in case you want a refresher, here is an interesting piece from Huffington Post:

    Here are also some quick stats that someone so kindly posted in the comments of that article. I don't know the source, but they look legit based on what I've read in the last few months and heard from people there recently.

    14.5% official unemployment rate
    23% increase in Medicaid
    25% business vacancy rate
    35% increase in food stamps
    54% shortfall in 2011 State Budget
    55% loss in property values
    75% vacancy in CityCenter condos

    21-year oversupply of high-rise condos
    50,000 cases of homelessness/yr
    Harrah's 19.5B debt
    Echelon and Fountainbleau multi-billion dollar projects undone
    Stations Casinos bankrupt

    What are your thoughts? Obviously the fate of Vegas is inextricably linked to that of the economy as a whole, and growing shortage of water may render all other debates moot. And there are of course those that just wish it would return to the desert from which it came. All of those are valid perspectives, but I'm looking for something more nuanced here.

    So, does Vegas have another winning hand left, or has it simply gone bust?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian mgk920's avatar
    Mar 2004
    Appleton, Wisconsin
    My crystal ball is very cloudy about the future of the Las Vegas (I assume that you are referring to the one in Nevada, there is also a 'Las Vegas' in the State of New Mexico) metro area, but its EXPLOSIVE growth of the past couple of decades, IMHO, was due much more to the VERY BAD business climate in the adjacent State of California, compared with the very friendly business climate in the State of Nevada, than it had anything to do with the entertainment industry. If it was just entertainment and gambling, the Las Vegas, NV metro area would probably be only about 400K-500K total population max. The overall recession has very strongly affected those migratory businesses and that downturn is what is really being felt there.

    Another factor affecting the Las Vegas, NV area is that there are other major entertainment and resort centers all over North America and gambling is a much more common offering at many more of them than it was a couple of decades ago, giving the Las Vegas, NV area growing competition for that business. The recession has been resulting in less personal entertainment spending, too, causing that 'pie' to shrink.

    Eventually the 'market' will find its level in the Las Vegas, NV metro area, like it will everywhere else. Just what it will be ten or twenty years from now is anybody's guess.


  3. #3
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
    Mar 2004
    Where the weak are killed and eaten.
    LV suffers from the same fate of Detroit, it relies too much on one sector of the economy.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  4. #4
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
    Mar 2004
    Where Valley Fever Lives
    Blog entries

    Not so hot.....

    Las Vegas is one of my side projects.

    I've got a lot of ideas....buy me a drink or five and I'd be glad to tell you all about my plans for the place.
    “The way of acquiescence leads to moral and spiritual suicide. The way of violence leads to bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers. But, the way of non-violence leads to redemption and the creation of the beloved community.”
    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
    - See more at: http://www.thekingcenter.org/king-ph....r7W02j3S.dpuf

  5. #5
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
    Jan 2005
    Hang on Sloopy...land
    I think Vegas is dealing with its own "fake" success. When you are not founded on anything but tourism, you live and die by the economy. The housing glut will hit other areas too, but Vegas just did it bigger. The casinos that built too big, or had too many extras will fail, and those that are strong will survive.

    Vegas will be fine. It won't be the same as 2005 Vegas. But I think that is a good thing.
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

  6. #6
    Cyburbian UrbaneSprawler's avatar
    Nov 2009
    SoDoSoPa, Colorado
    The premise of Vegas being single economy driven I think isn't a fully fair assessment. Granted tourism is the most visible economy, but there's always been other industries especially on the government side with Nellis Air Force Base, Department of Energy/Test Site/Yucca Mountain, and management of surrounding BLM land. There's a couple of universities as well, my alma mater included. Private manufacturing to support these industries are there as a result.

    In my time living there, I'd say only a handful of people I met actually worked in the tourism field, and I spent almost all my time off the Strip. You can really forget that the entertainment side exists away from the Strip, save for odd run-ins with celebrities. Seeing Carrot Top and his mom at a PF Chang's was pretty bizarre.

    The real estate boom than bust in Vegas was really for the same reasons as Phoenix, Hesperia, Stockton, and other areas of the once booming west. Perhaps it hit Vegas harder because of the drop in tourism, which Nevada leans on more for funding because of no state income tax. It makes the hit on education greater there, and as a result perhaps compounds the leaving Las Vegas effect. I think I see a license plate from Nevada daily these days.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian RPfresh's avatar
    May 2008
    Surf Jock City
    There's a video article on the topic by Current TV's Vanguard news show called Lost Vegas. It's not approved for youngsters so I don't know if I can link to it directly, but it's on YouTube, just type in those two words and it's the first result. Haven't watched it myself but have been meaning to, think I'll do that right now. 25 minutes.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian TOFB's avatar
    Jan 2006
    Loma Linda's
    Vegas will not be fine. It and the rest of the great basin will run out water and be reclaimed by the desert within 100 years. Enjoy it while you can.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally posted by TOFB View post
    Vegas will not be fine. It and the rest of the great basin will run out water and be reclaimed by the desert within 100 years. Enjoy it while you can.
    I agree with TOFB. Unless they find a way to get water to them-great lakes, Ogala aquifer, desalination, etc, etc, etc. The party 's got to end some time. Most of the Southwest has been living borrowed time as it is.
    When did I go from Luke Skywalker to Obi-Wan Kenobi?

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Rygor's avatar
    Jun 2009
    Where the Wild Things Are
    Agreed. Las Vegas was a bad experiment that got way out of hand. It's only going to get worse and once the exodus begins there will be no turning it back around. I give it no more than 30-40 years.
    "When life gives you lemons, just say 'No thanks'." - Henry Rollins

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