After visiting Las Vegas last week for a look at Steve Wynn's Encore, I can believe the numbers in the story, Las Vegas Craps Out, written by Ed Watkins.
I wouldn't describe Vegas as sparse, but it certainly wasn't buzzing and bustling with activity like normal, from the moment I stepped off the plane all the way to the easiest jaunt through security I've ever had on a return trip. It took less than 10 minutes to grab my ticket, check a bag, breeze through security and take the shuttle train to my gate. That's got to be a record, by at least 30 minutes, for me in Vegas (And I did not spend the extra time at the slot machines).
While on the strip, the pulse of the city seemed much slower than usual. Dealers and cab drivers wondered aloud when things would turn around. Table limits, even at the usually pricey Wynn Las Vegas, were reasonable, with minimums as low as $10, even after dark when things started to pick up.
I heard more rumors that MGM Mirage could be looking to sell another casino, potentially one of its namesakes, to help keep CityCenter afloat. MGM Mirage recently sold Treasure Island to Phil Ruffin for $775 million, which sounds like a lot, but pales in comparison to the $1.2 billion he got for selling the New Frontier in 2007, showing just how far, and fast, the market has dropped.
On a positive note, which I'll be writing about more in depth in an upcoming issue of the magazine, was Encore, which lived up to its hype and then some. The resort has a similar feel to Wynn Las Vegas, but on a smaller, more intimate scale. Not that this makes much sense, but it feels less casino-like than any of its strip counterparts. Anyway, the designs by Roger Thomas, Todd-Avery Lenahan and others were impressive.