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Las Vegas Post 9/11
New York and Washington, DC are the cities directly hit by the 9/11 attacks in 2001. How did Las Vegas deal with the event?
Following the attack on New York's Twin Towers business center September the 11th, 2001, many American businesses took immediate precautionary measures. Tall building were evacuated, bridges closed, and shopping centers cleared.
Las Vegas, the gambling hub in the US State of Nevada was no exception. Casino board rooms across the state met and enacted emergency plans that would minimize their exposure to perceived new terrorist threats. Casinos laid off 10,000 workers, casino floors were cordoned off, and construction plans for new developments were put on hold.
However, a recent report published by the Cornell Hospitality Quarterly suggests that Las Vegas may have overreacted.
Using the volume of slot machine activity as a yardstick, researchers found that business was essentially back to normal some five months after the 9/11 attacks. This finding mirrored similar research showing a six-month time lag after other US crises in the 1970s and 80s.
However, some casino operators, including MGM Mirage, dismissed the report's findings, calling them simplistic and unrepresentative. They pointed to the fact that a casino's activity cannot be measured solely on the basis of its slot machine business. They added that slot machine revenue has fallen over recent years pointing to a move away from this traditional casino gambling activity.
Casino bosses claim that during the period studied, casinos had begun diversifying their interests. New revenue sources were sought including quality hotels, cabarets, fine restaurants, and high-end retail sales. As such, the traditional casino business had changed with people spending their money in different ways, apart from gambling.
However, casino executives had few regrets about laying off thousands of their workers. MGM Mirage, Park Place Entertainment (later acquired by Harrah's Entertainment) and others did so because so many of their staff was involved in non-gaming activities, and the low attendance at hotels would have seen thousands of bell hops and chambermaids standing around idle.
Despite the disagreements, casino owners and the report authors agree that Las Vegas suffered heavy losses in the wake of the terrorist attack.