Through WCCUSD’s Ivy League Connection program, Hercules High School Students Justine Betschart, Stacy Chan, Ramiah Davis-Shephard, Louisa Man, Julia Maniquiz, and Yueming Wang will be attending Cornell University to either study Freedom and Justice or Hotel Operations Management during the summer of 2009.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Las Vegas: the American Sin City

Las Vegas is like the adult equivalent of Disneyland.

That is so far my favorite description of Vegas.

Las Vegas is the American "Sin City" located in the middle of the Nevada desert. Did you know that despite its odd location, it is the most visited city on Earth? Did you know that the gaming industry in Vegas was mostly initiated by mobs? Did you know that many developments are still in progress even in today's economy? Everything about Las Vegas is intriguing!

For our class's purpose, we are relating the success of large companies in Vegas to the hotels and its casinos. Unlike hotels in other areas, the hotel casinos have more factors to consider such as how much money is the customer willing to gamble before deciding whether a guest should be accepted or declined. Whereas most hotels make majority of their profits from rooms, these hotels rely on the success of their casino counterparts to contribute a good portion of money to their bottom line.

Rather than having a lecture on casinos and hotel operations, Professor Reneta decided to approach it differently by allowing us to watch parts of a movie about the developments in Las Vegas since the very beginning. In addition, she also showed us some of the extra features from her Ocean's Thirteen movie which proved to be very educational.

When thinking about Vegas, the first thought that crosses my head is gaming and gambling, which both have negative connotations in our society. After learning more about it, I view the "Sin City" more as a location that sets innovative trends for the world and supports the most creative yet successful business strategies.

~Yueming W.

P.S. Since tomorrow is the second to last day of school, I believe I will be very busy. My group would need to finish all of our work for our final report tomorrow so I am uncertain when I will be able to blog. But I promise that I will blog!!

1 comment:

  1. Yueming,

    The story of Las Vegas is one for the ages. The story of how Benjamin “Bugsy” Seigel built The Flamingo Hotel right after WWII is legendary. Seigel, one of the original members of Murder Incorporated and partners with Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky, had a vision and it became Las Vegas.

    The 1990 Warren Beatty movie “Bugsy” is a nice Hollywoodized version of the story that only fudges on the facts a little here and there.

    The Mafia could turn their ill-gotten gains into legitimate businesses all the while skimming the system to reap even more profits.

    Eventually, they used Teamster Union pension funds to help finance the construction of more of their casinos. They would also entice some of their old entertainment pals to entertain at the casinos to help draw in the crowds.

    By agreement, Las Vegas was declared one of several ‘open cities’ which was a territory with no Mafia Boss having control over it. [Los Angeles, Miami and San Francisco were other open cities.]

    Eventually the mob’s greediness screwed things up and corporate America took over Las Vegas and turned it into the city it is today as a real tourist mecca. Instead of union pension funds, they used junk bonds. [Another good movie that semi-accurately displays this is the Robert DeNiro film ‘Casino’]

    They say that Las Vegas reinvents itself every five years and that’s not far from the truth. They keep tearing down old hotel casinos and building newer places on top of them except they’re bigger, fancier and swankier. It’s not unusual at all for the newer hotels in Las Vegas to have more than 5,000 rooms.

    Although Las Vegas was the mob’s town, they also built casinos in Havana, Cuba that were significantly bigger, more luxurious and more profitable than their Las Vegas investments. Even better, everything was legal in Havana and they were outside of the reach of the FBI. [They could wash their money there. They’d take dirty money to Cuba and it would come back clean and legitimate.] They were even wired into the Batista government. Unfortunately, Fidel Castro screwed up their plans and the mobs lost billions in capital when his revolution took over the country on New Years Day 1959.

    Las Vegas hotels were merely a means in which to accommodate the gamblers. Customers expected nice facilities but they were there to gamble. It used to be standard in Las Vegas (and Reno, too) to have very inexpensive rooms with free drinks and buffets. Anything to keep the customer happy and sitting at a gaming table. For heavy gamblers, they would comp the rooms, the shows, the food and the liquor. Anything to keep the sucker forking over his money.

    Once Las Vegas went for convention business big time, they no longer focused so much on the gambler. They realized they could make a very healthy profit off of the rooms and the restaurants and even the shops. [Some conventions bring in a quarter of a million delegates.]

    By the way, your reference to gaming having negative connotations, I think you ought to rethink that. Gaming is widely accepted in a great many communities. There will always be pockets of resistance from people who think that gaming should be outlawed, alcohol should be banned, women should remain barefoot and pregnant and prayer should be mandated in public schools. These people do not necessarily speak for all of us.