Stories about Las Vegas right now are spooky:
Slot machines are powered down, casinos boarded up and barricaded.
Sidewalks are largely deserted and electronic marquees that once flashed neon calls for nightclubs, magic shows and topless revues instead beam somber messages of safety.
The famous fountains of the Bellagio casino, where water choreographed to lights and music shoots hundreds of feet in the air, are still. Throngs of visitors who made it tough to maneuver on sidewalks have been replaced by the occasional jogger or skateboarder.
On the always busy, always noisy, never sleeping Las Vegas strip, you can now hear birds chirping.
Workers are expected to lose $7.7 billion in wages and salaries over the next 18 months if the tourism industry is shuttered between 30 and 90 days, according to a study from the Nevada Resort Association.
With the industry effectively closed for more than five weeks now, more than 343,000 residents have filed for unemployment, and state and local governments could lose more than $1 billion in tax revenues.
The politically independent mayor of Las Vegas, Carolyn Goodman, has issued public pleas calling for the Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak to end the statewide shutdown of casinos and non-essential businesses, which she calls “total insanity.”
“For heaven’s sake,” Goodman said at an April city council meeting, “being closed is killing us already, and killing Las Vegas, our industry, our convention and tourism business that we have all worked so hard to build.”
Lots of great photos in this story.
Again, the issue here isn’t really when Nevada officials formally allow the casinos to re-open. It doesn’t matter if the resorts are open if nobody wants to visit them. Speaking for myself, I like Vegas a lot, but I don’t like it “materially risk choking to death alone” a lot, and if I try to come up with things that make Vegas distinctively Vegas that are compatible with even fairly soft social distancing rules…I’m not really getting anything but a loud buzzing noise. Some people will of course be more adventurous but it’s hard to imagine tourism recovering in a robust manner even before the inevitable outbreak happens. When you add the issues of international travel…it’s pretty grim. Extensive federal intervention is needed, which makes the fact that two of the three relevant veto points are controlled by people who don’t give a shit unfortunate.
…this story is also very good.