Learning from the invaders


Caption: First farmer of the Linear Pottery Culture in Neolithic Central Europe.

The Reno Gazette-Journal is following up on the Siena auction story – actually so are other local news outlets, there isn’t not much gaming news in Reno these days and once you have said that revenues are down again, what is left to say?  The Gazette‘s story lead with the headline: Siena buyers plan to make it a five-star hotel. Noble ambition indeed, but which other five-star properties are there in Reno, in all of Nevada?  It is a very, very small and exclusive category, but who knows maybe they can pull it off .  Somehow buying a distressed property at a fire sale does not seem to me the place the normal five-star operator starts.  But it does bring up an interesting question: does an outside with a bigger vision or an insider with market experience stand a better chance?  Barney Ng was an outsider with vision, but then so was Bill Harrah; conventional gaming wisdom always suggests the guy with gaming and market experience has the edge.

I have always favored that view, it matched my life place and protects me from admitting that someone else could do it better.  Today National Geographic is featuring a story that may force all of us gaming insiders  to rethink that proposition.  In the story, agriculture came to Europe via invaders from the Middle East who imposed their vision of human society on the hunter gathers of Europe.  The old view of course had the Europeans working it out by themselves, developing their own farming and slowly evolving from hunters to farmers.  Now we are forced to consider the possibility that the insiders become rather insular and incestuous in their thinking – unable to imagine something completely out of context of their current world view.  The news implies that sometimes it takes an outside to bring in a new world view in a punctuated equilibrium way – a bang on the head and an order – “you farm, not hunt!” The implications for the Siena are significant, it may just take an outsider with a different world view to teach us thick-skulled, slow-thinking insiders a new way to think about operating a casino on the river. Maybe Barney was just the wrong guy.


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November 2010
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