Fake it until you make it -Vegas style

  • Las Vegas Sands decided to “finish” what was supposed to be the St. Regis condos by covering it with a printed curtain that looks like the outside of a building. [Las Vegas Review-Journal, 6-11-11]

Nevada was probably the hardest hit state in the nation by the recession; the reason is simple.  Prior to 2006 or 2007, Nevada was the fastest growing state in the country.  Nevada’ population increased almost every year for the last half century; the state’s income, based predominately on gaming revenues, also increased almost every year for the same 50 years; new citizens, tourism and construction and retail founded on those people drove Nevada’s pre-recession economy.  As a by-product real estate also boomed – particularly in the years immediately leading up to the recession; the price of land,  houses and all construction sky-rocketed.  So when the boom went bust, Nevada was left in bad way.  Gaming revenues dropped, real estate collapsed, construction stopped;  people started to move away and fewer tourists were coming to visit.  Nevada went from having the lowest unemployment rate in the country to having the highest unemployment rate – soften somewhat by the number of unemployed people who gave up looking and simply went back to wherefore they came from.

One of the most noticeable and visual changes to Nevada has been on the Strip in Las Vegas; for years we have learned to think of the Strip as the center of gambling in the world. Seemingly every year a new mega-resort opened, each larger and more expensive that its predecessors.  The ever present cranes used to construct the new casino-resorts were everywhere, competing with the casinos for a piece of the Strip’s famous skyline.  But, in 2011 there are no casinos being built or anything else for that matter.  The last two casino projects to open were started during the boom and are today struggling to pay the cost of their construction and financing.  Those projects unlucky enough to have started too late during the boom and were unable to get the financing to continue were forced to shut down; they remain, decorating the landscape like pyramids in Egypt, mere symbols of a long-gone civilization.  Those partially built projects get lots of criticism from other casino operators and city officials, but no one really has the ability to force the current owners into any corrective action.

Steve Wynn has tried everything he could to get Boyd Gaming to clean up the old Stardust site with no luck.  This week, however, the Las Vegas Sands has decided to wrap an unfinished project – from the looks of it, wrapping might be a partial solution to the visual pollution of decaying projects that litter Las Vegas. It reminds me of a saying a friend of mine used to use: “fake it until you make it.”


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