The Bear Growls: Las Vegas casino greed killing the golden goose

The Golden Goose in Las Vegas 

Well, well, wellNevada gaming revenues fell more than 15 percent in May, according to figures released by the Gaming Control Board.

Maybe the suckers are finally getting it. With ripoffs like 6 to 5 blackjack, sportsbooks refusing to take bets of more than chump change, short-pay video poker and many similar insults to our city’s visitors, most people can find better quality gaming elsewhere. It appears the other overpriced local “amenities” are among the first things people cut out when times get tougher. Casino greed is killing the golden goose. The Las Vegas casino bosses’ business model, which seems to rely on the theory that there’ll always be more suckers to plunder, may finally be coming to a screeching halt.

Las Vegas once was a worthwhile destination, not only for a person of average means, but for skilled patrons, too. The average person has been priced out of the market by the greedy corporate barons now running the joints, and the skilled patron has been effectively stifled by the preponderance of garbage games. But usually what is good for the skilled patron is also good for the casino. Better games will attract more skilled patrons, but will also let the suckers hold onto their money a little longer. So they come back more often and lose more, though not quite as quickly. With the “let’s bankrupt them all as quickly as we can” attitude so prevalent now, led by the despicable Harrah’s, no wonder tourism is taking such a hit.

My personal wish list:

1. Harrah’s to go into bankruptcy and be forced to divest itself of most of its properties, which could then be acquired by individual entrepreneurs willing to offer the suckers reasonably fair treatment.

2. Some imaginative and competent owners and managers to take over the failing dumps downtown. The only thing downtown has to offer is better games. But the current bunch of failures running the downtown dumps can’t seem to get that through their thick skulls, as their games mimic the Strip, getting worse and worse. No reason to go downtown anymore.

3. Wynn to go bankrupt. The loathsome Mr. Wynn, who knowingly hired an individual who falsely testified in a legal case involving patrons, presides over a sportsbook that is among the worst-run with the rudest management anywhere, and tolerates unparalleled intrusion into the privacy of patrons via Social Security number harassment of all but the lowest-level players, deserves to be put out of business.

4. The remaining operators to see this economic downturn as an opportunity to return to giving the patrons some value, instead of just ripping off our visitors with bloated prices on rooms and shows, poor service, bad attitudes, and lousy games.

Las Vegas has plundered the suckers for a long time. The motto for the Convention and Visitors Authority ought to be, “Las Vegas – a great place to live, but I wouldn’t want to visit.” It’s time to get back to the basics of offering value to the average visitor. “Value” and “service” appear to be words most of the present crop of casino managers are not familiar with – short-term results and today’s stock prices seem to be their only concern. Right now, they are getting what they deserve.



  1. The words are taken right out of my mouth! The clowns running the major corporations have been relying on people spending $300 for dinner and being perfectly happy playing 87% slots that they are now screwed. Those people aren’t coming anymore and the gamblers like you and me, which long ago were their bread and butter are tired of getting the shaft.

    I dont ask for much from my casino and I am more than willing to give them a fair crack at my money. I’m not even asking for 103% promotions here. Just a reasonable hold that allows me to at least hold on to my money while giving everyone a shot at winning.

    Harrah’s in particular has seemed to focus on the a policy of fleecing the twice a year vacationer while simutanously gutting their casinos of anything even remotely playable for the knowledgable player.

    We seriously do need more independent operators. I am not a serious table player so I dont know his policies in the pit but Michael Gaughan at South Point treats his video poker players pretty well. While not having the best collection of games in town, he has a lot of reasonable VP all over the casino and backs it up with good value in the restauarants and hotel. We need much more of guys like him.
    Visit for the complete guide to Las Vegas Hotels and Casinos. With Property maps of every major casino, 100s of pictures and a ton of other info all without annoying ads!

  2. “…an opportunity to return to giving the patrons some value, instead of just ripping off our visitors with bloated prices on rooms and shows, poor service, bad attitudes, and lousy games.”

    Ah, but the “Las Vegas Experience” of Room, Show, Fancy Restaurant and mindless slot action was so profitable. Downtown casinos would rather adopt a “me too” approach and tout some fancy light show rather than good gambling. Wall street rewards short term corporate actions, not a long-term viewpoint of educated gamblers and reasonable prices. Why ditch 6:5 blackjack when most players won’t know or care that 3:2 is a better deal? Why have decent slot payouts when its far cheaper to issue a press release or create rumors that will entice more ignorant players? A fundamental shift to offering a better deal would be revolutionary and every casino owner will resist such a change because sheering ignorant sheep is so much more profitable than giving the sucker an (almost) even break.

  3. “…every casino owner will resist offering his customer a better deal because sheering ignorant sheep is so much more profitable than giving the sucker an (almost) even break.”

    The trouble is that as travel becomes more of an ordeal and other geographically more convenient gambling opportunities become available there will be a point at which the supply of ignorant sheep dries up and casino managers must then fight over the few remaining tourists. It takes time to turn around an entire industry. A present greed can only cause future problems. And those problems will not be solved by quick fixes but instead only by fundamental and costly, time-consuming changes in the industry.

  4. >revenues fell more than 15% in May according to the Gaming Control Board
    It seems that as with any industry that focuses on the law of large numbers, short term results may be very misleading. Just as many casinos consider a ‘day’ for IRS purposes to be from 4:00am to 4:00am, many casinos have equally unusual revenue reporting habits. Whenever a month ends on a weekend, it is often extended until the next Monday. This skews the figures for “May”. There undoubtedly was a decline but it was not as severe as indicated.

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