Las Vegas, USA

  • Date
  • 17 December 2001

Ahhh, the neon lights of Vegas have charmed me. So many folks warned I’d find Vegas over-the-top and tacky, but I think the lavish gambling city is loads of fun! The 3.5-mile strip has more neon than any other place in the world creating a wonderful sensory overload. Eighteen of the world’s 21 largest hotels are right here, offering rooms in every range to scores of thousands of hopeful tourists and serious gamblers. Thus service is a matter of course, albeit, most often with an obligatory attitude. Top-notch spas, with every imaginable treatment, occupy large spots inside the nicer hotels. Dining ranges from McDonalds to Le Cirque and the mega-shopping spans Gap to Chanel. Lining the outskirts of the gambling arcades are glittery jewelry boutiques, home to diamonds the size of golf balls awaiting splurging lucky winners, who are laced with drinks served by mostly attractive, always youngish women in high heels and tiny costumes. At night, along the Strip, men line the streets giving out cards that advertise prostitutes (of age as far as we saw), who “will be NAKED in your room within 30 minutes”.

And, the city attracts all types – honeymooners, retired couples, teenagers, new mothers, conventioneers, and people of every race and ethnicity. John, a local born and bred in Vegas, told me this is generally a slow time, but since 9/11/2001 the traffic has fallen drastically. I did notice casinos and shops looked a bit sparse, but I credited this to Monday. Still, even in the slow season, thousands are in town creating an energy that is real, pumping, pulsing, and even overwhelming at times. I found great satisfaction in hearing a lucky winner’s slot machine pour down the tokens and then observing another lucky gambler raise her arms overhead victoriously after winning on the craps or roulette table.

Dreams become reality in Vegas. People believe they can beat the odds, plunking down another wad of cash – over and over – hoping that the big win is on the way. Granted, as Jim pointed out to me repeatedly, the casinos would not be here if they were not profiting and I know first hand about losing money (I threw away US$10) to the house, but, still I believe that next time, and I will visit Vegas again, I’ll win….

For all those who bad-mouthed Vegas, I ask, “What’s not to like?” Sure, a vacation in Rome is more culturally enriching, but Vegas fulfills dreams and demands nothing of the mind – beyond deciding whether or not to make another wager and “Play it again!”