Spent the last week in Las Vegas at the Circus Circus. The first interesting thing that struck me is that the Vegas we all know and fear is really just a four mile stretch of the Las Vegas Boulevard, nicknamed the Strip. It isn’t even in the city of Las Vegas – to save on taxes, those rambling supercasinos technically reside in Clark County, just west of the city limits.
Las Vegas is like a microcosmic parody of North America with its ubiquituous asphalt and manmade sanctuaries, lots of money changing hands, and big everything – big buildings, big people, and big stakes. I looked around the casinos – invariably they have low, blackened ceilings, and hundreds of people at hundreds of slot machines making terrific amounts of noise – and I see people with droopy eyelids and grim faces, sullen casino staff, cheap vinyl and cheap trinkets, and an endless array of blinking lights and electronic sounds at such a high magnitude that I could still hear the slots in my sleep.
Everyone sells. We had pizza delivery flyers crammed into our door. Taxis have three billboards on the roof and one attached to the trunk. Inside, there are two more mini-ads flanking a flatscreen playing commercials plus racks of coupon books. Everywhere you walk along the Strip, people are standing around, either trying to push a flyer for an “escort service” or a timeshare (this pitch unwaveringly begins with a “Are you free tonight?”).
Are these people really having fun, just interacting with a slot machine for hours on end? Do slots really just encourage sociopathy? It was kinda depressing.