The October 1 shooting in Las Vegas was a “despicable and senseless event,” as Geoff Freeman, CEO of the American Gaming Association, aptly put it at G2E last month.
As such, any attempts to understand its impact of this human tragedy are best expressed by professionals, and the industry had one on hand at G2E last month in the person of former Boston police commissioner Ed Davis, who works closely with the AGA on a variety of law enforcement activities, who headed the police force during the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013.
First, Davis was impressed with the response of the Sheriff’s Department, which put rapid response units up and down the Strip and I think people felt very secure as a result. As Freeman added: “The Henderson Police were at the Sands; the North Las Vegas police were at Treasure Island; everyone knew where to be and exactly when to be there.”
“We train on this stuff; we tell people you can’t establish a relationship in a crisis,” said Davis. “Everybody looked at the window and they saw these units arriving; that was part of a plan. That plan was put in place in the years after 9/11 and it has been practiced over and over again. Clark County has committed money to make that happen and DHS (the Department of Homeland Security) has been very helpful in getting us all trained up on that.”
In terms of the long-term recovery process, Davis added: “People are afraid. They’re afraid across the country. I saw that after Boston. To put that back together and make the community right again requires leadership on the part of public officials’ preparation and practice for what might happen in the future. Terrorism and crisis management is an iterative process; we learn from it. So there will be changes to the way we live our life as a result of this incident happening. The security people here at these hotels will do that work and make sure that we are safe in the future.”
In the weeks after the attack, a published Morgan Stanley estimate projected decreased demand for about six months and a 4 to 6 percent decline in overall business. By way of comparison, for the full year after the November 2015 attacks in Paris, tourism declined 7 percent. There are some basic differences between the two events that work in favor of a lesser impact for Las Vegas. Travelers might reasonably conclude that the October 1 mass shooting was a one-man job and not the beginning of a spate of violence that will threaten the city indefinitely. The same can’t be said for the organized form of terrorism that struck not just Paris but France in general throughout 2015-16.
On the other hand, Paris and Las Vegas are both global destinations, with at least one relevant difference as it relates to this discussion: The product mix in Paris is comparatively set, whereas Las Vegas is ever-evolving. Live events are an important and growing part of the city’s present and future, and not just on the gaming industry side. As such, we can expect unprecedented levels of focus on public security post-October 1 and an even safer overall environment as a result.
Safety, after all, is primordial, and any conversation about this event that doesn’t touch on the issue of guns in the aftermath of October 1 would be woefully incomplete. National governments in Canada, Ireland and New Zealand all issued travel warnings about mass shootings in the U.S. after the Las Vegas tragedy. However Americans feel about the volume and sophistication of guns that are readily available to most of them, the issue of permissive gun laws does not play well in many foreign markets. It was a positive sign that even the National Rifle Association came out against “bump stocks” after the shooting, the accessory that enabled the Las Vegas shooter to fire off 280 rounds in one 31-second period. It’s a start, and, in light of the scale of this tragedy, not a trivial one at that.
SEE YOU AT TABLE GAMES
Just a reminder that the Cutting Edge Table Games Conference (www.tablegamesconf.com) is set for Nov. 14-16 at Paris Las Vegas. The conference will kick off with Bill Zender’s Cutting Edge Table Game Presentation, a day-long workshop with three educational segments: Table Games Mathematics; Understanding Rolling Chip/Dead Chip Programs; and The Cost of Table Game Promotions. The main conference program will offer two days of educational sessions as well as a special double session on surveillance by noted game protection expert Sal Piacente. Also on tap is Casino Journal’s popular Best New Table Games competition. Hope to see you there.