Things began slowly this week after a weekend of decadence in Las Vegas… what impressions did I have of Sin City?
People aren’t gambling as much as the last time I was here a few years ago, the tables and slot machines were not so crowded, but there were still some big crowds of people around, even in the ridiculousness of August and what is probably the slowest time of the year in Las Vegas. The swarm of grasshoppers had left town by the time we arrived, but it was so insanely hot for these pale New Englanders that we still ended up asking doormen and other folks for directions with the caveat, “please, is there a way to get there without going outside?”
So it makes sense that the crowds were a trifle smaller than last time I was in town (a couple years ago) — it hit about 110 degrees most days, and we heard anecdotally that a couple of the outdoor pools had to be closed because the water was too hot for safety, and this is the slowest time of year for Las Vegas, usually, as even the partying college kids are back in school… and yet this oasis of insanity in the desert was still plenty active, with the shows crowded with people happily buying $15 beers. MGM and Caesars, which between them pretty much own the Strip (after giving up a small section to Las Vegas Sands and its Venetian, and the Wynn and Encore), seem to be doing just fine, thanks, even if gambling isn’t the draw it once was. After all, almost everyone in the United States lives within an hour or two of a casino these days — including us, with the MGM Springfield just half an hour down the road — so the draw is not the ability to win lose money, it’s the ability to immerse yourself in total adult indulgence.
And yes, that includes plenty of marijuana — the new scent of the Strip is “skunky.” But other than the pleasure palace of Planet 13, the marijuana megastore that’s just off the Strip, no brand is really taking hold in any obvious way. MedMen talks up their big Las Vegas location, a little off the strip by the Hard Rock Cafe casino, but I didn’t notice any marketing by them, and there seem to be ...