According to reports, the city and surrounding area added 100,000 new residents within just the past year. This news is both good and bad.
It’s good because local property values, which took the biggest hit in the nation right after the 2008 economic crisis, are inching closer back to the break-even point for many homeowners, who relocated here and then found themselves on the wrong end of upside-down mortgages. It’s also a symbol of economic vibrancy, sure to entice businesses currently based elsewhere to move to Las Vegas, which has a plentiful supply of affordable labor.
It’s bad too. Las Vegas doesn’t really need any more residents. It’s limited resources — mostly a diminishing water supply — are already stretched perilously thin. Lake Mead is at its lowest level ever and the problem is getting worse. Air quality continues to deteriorate. And local traffic is a mess. Las vegas doesn’t need any more cars on the streets or people struggling to make ends meet. It’s already got plenty of that.
Here are ten things Las Vegas should do which will improve the quality of life for most residents and make the city a far more attractive place to visit:
You obviously don’t have a freaking clue what kind of fish to order at a restaurant. And because of your blatant ignorance, I am the one who has to suffer from your lack of knowledge about seafood.
On Saturday night, we dined out at Buzio’s. That’s the seafood restaurant at the Rio. Buzio’s is consistently both good and affordable. I’ve dined at Buzio’s perhaps 200 times within the past ten years. Yes, that’s — two-hundred.
The primary reason why I eat at Buzio’s so much is — it’s the closest good restaurant to where the World Series of Poker takes place. It’s within walking distance of the tournament area. So, when I’m working on property nearly 50 days each summer, many of those dinner breaks are spent at Buzio’s, often with close friends and people I haven’t seen in a long while. Moreover, the dinner break is the highlight of my day.
One of the most highly-anticipated presentations of the three-day gathering of online gaming executives included a moderated debate between Mitch Garber, CEO of Caesars Interactive and WSOP.com, and Andy Abboud, Senior Vice-President of Government Relations for the Las Vegas Sands Corporation. On the question posed — “Is online poker/gambling the problem or the solution,”Mr. Garber argued in favor of a legalized and regulated framework which would allow adults to play online, while Mr. Abboud argued against the proposition.
Sheldon Adelson’s Shill Spokesman Craps Out in Moderated Debate — Calls Opponents “Twitter Creeps,” then Admits to being “Lost” on High-Tech Issues as Hundreds in Audience Gasp in Disbelief
Within the first few minutes of his opening remarks, I actually felt sorry for Andy Abboud.
After all, the Senior Vice-President of Government Relations for the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, and longtime loyalist to Sheldon Adelson, appeared to be a good sport. Earlier today, he courageously entered a lions’ den at Planet Hollywood, taking a hot seat directly opposite Caesars Interactive Entertainment CEO, Mitch Garber. No doubt, Mr. Abboud knew he wasn’t likely to win over any converts among this relatively sophisticated crowd, comprised almost exclusively of hard-core supporters of legalized and regulated online poker inside the United States (and to a lesser extent — casino gambling and sports betting).
Mr. Abboud started off quite well. In fact, after listening to the first quarter of the debate, I thought Mr. Garber, who was arguing the pro-online poker side, had fully met his match. Mr. Abboud expressed his concerns about legalized online poker effectively, and even managed to land a few talking points. As I watched all this, hanging on every spoken word from the fifth row of giant conference room , I mused to myself that I’d like to meet Mr. Abboud afterward. He seemed cordial, respectful, and appeared to have even done some homework.
But as the 45-minute debate continued, it became painfully obvious that if Mr. Abboud had done any homework, he’d been studying the wrong textbook. Adelson’s longtime spokesman made at least three monumental gaffes, two of which brought gasps of disbelief from many who were sitting in the audience, most of whom paid up to $1,600 to attend the three-day conference mixer.
About midway into the debate, Mr. Abboud talked about a high-tech presentation he attended which was about online poker. The presentation provided information about industry safeguards, security, operations, support, and other facets of the details that go into running an online poker site. As Mr. Abboud was telling his story, on his own and without provocation, he admitted “they lost me,” causing astonishment among many in the crowd. Just to make it clear — the person debating about online poker’s impact, the person who cites concerns about underage gambling, addiction problems, money laundering, and so forth says “they lost me,” when the industry safeguards were explained to him? Unfortunately, the follow-up question no one got to ask was, “so then why are you up there telling this industry’s own experts about their business?”
Next, there was the blatant lie told by Mr Abboud which few people in the audience seemed to catch. Once again, without any provocation, speaking about the Sands Corporation which owns The Venetian, Mr. Abboud said “our position (against online poker) has always been consistent.” Oh really? Has it? Many of us remember very well a hugely-successful poker event held at The Venetian in February 2010. I was present. It was called the “North American Poker Tour,” which just so happens to be owned and operated by the online site PokerStars. By the way, The Venetian did a very nice job with that. Thanks, Mr. Abboud. So much for “consistency.” LINK HERE
But nothing triggered more jaws dropping throughout the room than Mr. Abboud’s comment in the final minutes of the debate. Up until that point, he’d largely remained on point. He’d held his emotions in check. One could say he’d done well, given the challenges. Then, he melted down completely.
For unknown reasons, Mr. Abboud decided to take an unwarranted shot at the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) and poker player activism. As he was discussing the future prospects of legalized online poker Mr. Abboud said, “….then, you have the PPA and all their creepy Twitter followers….”
Huh? What did he just say?
Just about everyone I was around looked at each other in stunned disbelief. There were audible gasps from many sitting in the audience (likely the PPA’s Twitter followers). Later, several observers gathered outside the room expressed utter shock that poker player activists would be called “creepy,” by someone no less with the title of “President of Government Relations.”
I wish Mr. Abboud had done well. At least, I wish he had done better. That would enable us to have more healthy debates on this topic and reach more people.
Unfortunately, that might not happen again given the limited forums of potential engagement. Moreover, if I was in Sheldon Adleson’s camp, I’d start looking for a different messenger. Maybe someone who doesn’t get “lost” on matters of high-tech. Someone who knows The Venetian’s incestuous past with an online site. Someone who doesn’t describe the opposition as “creepy.”
I’ll have more on the debate between Andy Abboud and Mitch Garber in the next post, which contains (what I think were) the most effective sound-bite points made by both sides.
Note: I wish to extend an added note of thanks to Sue Schneider, IGaming North America’s President and Organizer, as well as Marco Valerio for their kindness and courtesy during the conference, which runs March 19-21.
But nothing screams “what the fuck!” louder than the scene I witnessed last week here in Las Vegas. Sitting atop the glass counter above all kinds of expensive gold and diamond jewelry was — a tip jar. I shit you not.