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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

LIFE IS CHEAP IN LAS VEGAS


The front page headline in the Las Vegas Review-Journal this morning had to do with home values, which have dropped 60% since 2005, and are continuing to fall.  However, the city has astonishing values, as a hotel room can be had for $16/night at various marginal establishments and food can be really cheap.  Of course, they expect you to gamble and lose.


Some might remember the Bellagio (above), with all of 1000 rooms.  Well, now next door are two super luxury casino resorts which opened for business in the new City Center (76 acres), a $10 billion adventure, beginning with, in December 2009, Aria, with 4,000 rooms, then in December of 2010, the Cosmopolitan (right, 3000 rooms).  One night with breakfast during the weekday can be had in Aria for $129/night and Cosmopolitan for $160/night.  These are fabulous rooms (I hear), and the prices are ridiculously low when you compare to anything magnificent in any major city around the world.  Of course, repeat after me...do not gamble...do not gamble.



I stayed at the Marina Bay Sands (above, 2500 rooms, also a casino) in Singapore a few months ago, and rooms were around $350/night.  Both the Venetian Macau (left, 3000 rooms) and Wynn Macau (1000 rooms) are in the $250/night range.

Of course, try getting a room at the St. Regis (New York City, $900/night) or Four Seasons Paris ($1,150/night).  Gambling subsidizes those above casino rates.

As impressive as Las Vegas might be, gambling revenues ($23.5 billion) in Macao in 2010 were four times that of Vegas.

In comparison, the California Hotel (cost to build around $10 million in 1975--equivalent to $40 million today)--781 fairly crummy rooms, including 74 suites) is where some of my high school classmates are staying.  I heard that if you slip $20 to the person checking you in, wonderful things can happen.  Well, I did so, and amazingly enough, I got a suite, the best room I've had in the dozen or so times I've stayed here.  And there was no additional (to the $20) charge.  Six nights with three meals/day at around $65/night.  I've already had a prime rib dinner with salad bar and cherries jubilee, and for breakfast this morning, a half pound New York steak.  

My gambling consists of a poker penny machine where someone comes up to you every few minutes asking what free drink you want.  I timed it so that I first got a Heineken and then ordered a glass of red wine, carrying both, after ten minutes of wagering, into the restaurant to accompany my free dinner last night.  At this poker machine, there are ten hands, so you actually can lose ten cents with each round.  However, it is theoretically impossible to lose $20 in a couple of hours, so, usually, I get my two free drinks for less than $3 (because I generously tip $1 for each free drink).  The internet is free here.  The golf tournament starts tomorrow.

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The Dow Jones Industrials suffered a mini crash today, down 280 to 12,290 (biggest drop since about a year ago, June 4), reflecting the global market.  Job numbers were bad and there is some fear about tomorrow.  I'd like to see a bear market down to 10,000 so I can buy again.  Gold went up $7/toz to $1542 and oil is now at $100/barrel (NYMEX) and $114/barrel (Brent Spot).

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