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What goes down must come up17 February 2011
Las Vegas's profits have suffered from a poor economy and massive, almost unsustainable growth fueled by large debt and visions of grandeur. Just look at the Vegas skyline of 25 years ago and compare it with today's city. Vegas was not reaching for the skies back then, but the new mega-structures along and near the Strip now compete with the giant buildings found in cities around the world.
When Vegas was happily "riding high in [the] April" of the housing and tourist boom, no one thought that it would get "shot down in [the] May" of a big recession. Private property values plummeted; foreclosures became the song's refrain. Many tourists took their dollars elsewhere to spend, usually closer to their homes. New mega-structures literally hit the wall.
Atlantic City is also suffering. The poor national and local economies have brought the former Queen of the Sea down to a mere horseshoe crab. In addition, the massive casino growth in the bordering state of Pennsylvania has siphoned off a substantial percentage of Atlantic City's customers. While the city proper has been upgraded greatly over the years by tearing down some slum dwellings and replacing them with a fashionable shopping district, the strong wear and tear on the area's finances is shattering the hope that Atlantic City's fathers (and mothers!) have of a really bright tomorrow. Several casinos are looking really shaky as I write this and every casino is heading in a direction where they prefer not to go -- which is down. It is bleak, to say the least.
If it is not too good economically for our two biggest casino-resort towns at the moment, can we be confident that things will eventually get better? After all, don't things always get better? Won't Vegas keep shooting for the stars? Won't Atlantic City twinkle on the ocean waves?
Usually things do get better -- after all, we know that economies go up and down over time. This is true. But sometimes when the economy goes down, plenty of individuals and companies never get the chance to go up when the economy does so. Take a look around our casino giants. Will all of them survive? In the past, plenty of casinos have gone belly-up. It is truly hard to believe that a casino can go bankrupt, but it can, and plenty have done so over the years.
Those of you old enough to remember Las Vegas in the glory days of the Rat Pack can picture all the casino properties that no longer neon their names into the night skies. They are as gone as Elvis Presley and they are never going to return. These buildings have left the building.
I am guessing that the casino world will return more or less to its rightful colors if things start to pick up and I do believe that things will indeed pick up. I base this on hope and my desire for everything to return back to normal -- if there is such a thing as normal.
This is the same type of belief that I have when I play the casino's games. I always think that even when I am down I will come raging back and be ahead shortly or "longly," as the case may be. There have been times when I come to a casino town for a few days or a week, take a terrible beating that first session and then try to claw my way back from disaster the rest of the trip. In almost all cases I do claw my way back but there have been some times when I have clawed my way straight to the bottom.
Over the years I have pondered why I might lose those first sessions and what I can do to thwart such losses. I now tend not to play on the first day of a trip so that my excitement at being in a casino is not dulled by a full day of actually being there. I tend to bet somewhat less in my first few sessions so that I can get a feel for once again being in the action. I would rather win less in an opening session than lose more if I bet my usual way. Betting less doesn't bother me.
I am sure that most of the readers of this article know the damaging effects of a quick and early loss. Your trip that was so bright and full of promise upon arrival is now suddenly cloudy and gray with dread that you'll keep going down and down into the crowded world of the other losers all around you.
Certainly, if you are playing a random game where the house has the edge, well down and down is essentially where you are going to head for your entire career, despite some good sessions every so often. If you are an advantage player where you have the edge over the house, then no matter how many bad sessions you have, the long-range trip will be up and up -- that is, as long as you have the bankroll to sustain any losses you encounter.
For the casino industries of Las Vegas and Atlantic City, their test now becomes one of bankroll as well. Do they have the funds to sustain themselves in the face of this current free-fall, or are some of these properties really going to look like an Old West -- though skyscrapered -- ghost town? There might not be tumbleweeds blowing down those empty hallways, but there might be plenty of dust.
So the question is now: Can the casinos rise from the ashes?
This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at email@example.com.
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