September 22, 2006

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"Gambling It All On Vegas" c. Ryan Rhodes, Sept. 16, 2006

Because my job requires that I travel from time to time, I found myself in Las Vegas a couple weeks ago, attending a technical conference held at Caesar's Palace.

I had never before been to Las Vegas, so I was a little curious as to what to expect while visiting the city "Bugsy" Segal built. Although I know this will come as a shock to some of you, I feel I must warn you that, in Las Vegas, there's a lot of . . . GAMBLING . . . going on. What's more, everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, in Las Vegas is designed to make you want to gamble.

Consider, for example, the Las Vegas airport. No sooner had I de-boarded the airplane when I was confronted by slot machines. I was so surprised to see slot machines in an airport, I felt compelled to gamble a quick $5. I battled the slot machine for about 10 minutes before moving on to the baggage claim. In the end, I finished about 25 cents down. I shook my fist in defiance at the machine, and continued my trek through the airport.

The Las Vegas airport baggage claim is a marketing gold mine. I was stuck there for 45 minutes, literally surrounded by Las Vegas advertising. There were banners and broadcasts proclaiming shows by Celine Dion, Jerry Seinfeld, Elton John and countless other celebrities. Heck, even Carrot Top had a banner up. Seriously, CARROT TOP! When was the last time you saw Carrot Top in ANYTHING? I thought the man had died of a carrot-related disease. Well, for 45 minutes, I was stuck there, looking at Carrot Top, waiting for my luggage. It was the most brilliant exercise of advertising to a completely helpless and captive audience I've seen in recent memory. I couldn't go anywhere until I got my luggage, and until I get my luggage, I was reminded that Carrot Top still exists. Pure genius.

Once at Caesar's Palace, I was informed that my room wouldn't be ready for another hour, and I was encouraged to check my luggage and just kind of wait around. Of course, waiting for an hour in a hotel/casino, I felt compelled to gamble. Okay, I didn't feel compelled, but I figured "why not?" I mean, anything to get my mind off of Carrot Top, right? After breezing through a quick $20, I vowed not to gamble again for the rest of the trip, which of course meant that I'd be gambling again later that evening.

Once my room was ready, I settled in to watch a little television, only to discover that the television channel selection at Caesar's Palace was carefully chosen so that there's nothing at all to watch, so you're better off gambling. No HBO. Nothing. Just channel after channel about Las Vegas. After two days of Caesar's Palace programming, I know more about Las Vegas than I do about my own hometown. Disgusted with the hotel television, I went downstairs to gamble. And, after winning about $30, I decided to call it a night. I was $9.75 up. I had Las Vegas in my back pocket.

Or at least I did until I realized I'd forgotten to pack a shaving razor, which prompted me to take a walking journey around the Las Vegas strip, determined to find a Mach 3 razor, which I discovered is practically impossible, so I had to opt for a five pack of those horrible, torturous, plastic scalp-gashing throw-aways that cost almost exactly $9.75. I also discovered that 7-11 convenience stores in Las Vegas also have their very own slot machines, which struck me as rather odd. I mean, what's the point? Are you going to go to 7-11 to pick up a six pack of soda, a bag of chips, and a gallon of gambling?

I spent the rest of my Las Vegas stay marching from the technical conference to my hotel room, with only limited time for additional gambling and general sight-seeing. My overall impression of Las Vegas was that it's a fun to place to visit, but I'm glad I don't have to live there, at least not until they get a more robust supply of Mach 3 razors in stock.

As a gambling side-note, I left Caesar's Palace about $40 down overall, but upon arriving at the airport I learned my flight was delayed an hour, so of course I sat down in front of a slot machine to do some gambling. And I won $130!

It was almost enough to make me forget about Carrot Top.

Posted by Ryan at September 22, 2006 08:59 AM | TrackBack

The carrot top ads scared me a little too.
I still can't believe the only damn place I didn't gamble at was the airport, and it sounds like I shoulda.

Posted by: Donna at September 24, 2006 09:03 PM
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