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« Anyone Wanna Repeal the 19th Amendment? | Main | Ideological Inconsistencies »

November 25, 2009

"Themed" Casinos and Entropy

Donald Pittenger writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Yesterday I zipped up and down much of the Las Vegas strip; photos will appear here eventually.

I noticed something. And that reinforced some impressions I was forming my last visit or two.

You see, Las Vegas experienced a transformation starting around 15 or 20 years ago. Casino owners decided, perhaps because of competition for the gambling dollar from Atlantic City, Indian reservation casinos and elsewhere, to add casinos emphasizing themes and in many cases large shopping areas.

Currently active themes in the heart of the Strip include Venice, the Italian lake country, King Arthur's court, ancient Egypt, New York City, Caribbean pirate islands, China, a desert oasis and Paris. Well on the way to phase-out are Aladdin's Middle East and Hollywood. (The MGM Grand dropped some of its Hollywood-themed decor. On the other hand, the Aladdin has been pretty much transformed into its new, Planet Hollywood guise.)

Did I just mention "phase-out?" What I've been noticing are signs that that theme-purity is starting to diminish in the strongly-themed casinos -- places where even the shops originally tried to conform to the overall scheme. The majority of themed casinos wear their themes lightly, embodying them in the general decor, but not extending to most of the shops and restaurants.

A case in point is the Paris. It has a Parisian-style shopping street where all (or nearly all) shops and restaurants were -- Parisian. Yesterday I noticed that one shop site had been taken over by (if memory serves) a Shooz shoe store. And there was a new restaurant that, at a glance, didn't seem particularly French.

The Luxor casino began an image remake a few years ago. Its architecture (a hollow pyramid) is impossible to change, but the ground floor details are changing from ancient Egypt to Los Angles show-biz.

The Luxor's change was by top management decision. The Paris' seeming shift is probably fed by the need to rent retail space, a need that will likely be enhanced by the current hard economic times.

Or, as the title of this post suggests, it's possible that entropy itself kicks in where highly structured, low-entropic conditions exist.



posted by Donald at November 25, 2009


I've often argued that a stongly themed* restaurant is an invitation to disaster. As soon as the novelty of the architecture and decor start to fade into 'been there', subconsciously the perception of the food follows the same track even if the food is good.

Restaurants should stick with tasteful, but fairly conventional decor, and stay far away from anything meant to 'grab your eye sockets'

*Outside of the food theme, that is. Nothing problematic about a strongly food themed (Italian, or Mexican, etc) restaurant

Posted by: jay on November 26, 2009 5:17 PM

That's too bad about the winding down of the original themes of Las Vegas resorts. As of my last visit 15 years ago (for the Consumer Electronics Show, not as a tourist), there was a lot of vulgarity on view but I was genuinely impressed by some casinos' carefully detailed exotic themes.

If every place is heading toward a lowest common denominator of Hollywood glitz, what is going to attract visitors? Casinos are all around these days, and so is flashy decor.

Posted by: Rick Darby on November 30, 2009 12:47 PM

This reminds me of the last (and only) time I went to Las Vegas: enter the Venice casino, across the bridges over the "canals", through the painted arches, and the first retail inside is any equally strongly-themed *Chinese* club!

Posted by: Jim on December 1, 2009 3:07 AM

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