Judy Kay-Wolff

THE ECONOMY LOWERS THE BOOM!

Residing in Las Vegas, often referred to as Sin City, has caused me to pause and take notice what has been happening around me.   The days where money flowed like cherry wine in these here parts — are history (at least for the time being).   We just returned from our traditional Sunday morning jaunt to a nearby casino buffet to fortify us for the day’s pro football games.   You could have shot a cannon through the casino — and made nary a hit.   The playing tables and slot machines were reminiscent of a ghost town and the absence of a waiting line at the buffet was unusual.   Until fairly recently, many adventuresome people thought nothing of a short hop or pre-arranged junket to Vegas for a weekend stint,  but it is frighteningly obvious that a radical about-face is in progress.   The last month or so hinted at a cutback — but this morning it seemed like a fait accompli.

Not only are the vacationers affected, but local eateries (average priced ones as well as ‘fine dining’ houses) are so delighted at your appearance, they practically do handstands when you enter their portals.   Last evening, we dined at a lovely casino restaurant and when we were sighted, the maitre d’ whisked me away from Bobby, escorted me to the table by placing his arm under mine (as if I had just alit from a wheelchair and couldn’t make it on my own). Instead of the independence that once prevailed, everyone is overly solicitous (from the owner to the busboy) constantly asking you how you are enjoying everything ‘so far’.   It is difficult to enjoy your meal while being subjected to a barrage of questions during their never-ending survey.

The once-congested shopping centers are suffering as well and parking spaces are not at a premium.  Beauty parlors and nail salons offer not-to-be-believed specials.     Since jewelry and furs are no longer ‘my thing,’ I indulge myself by patronizing a terrific ladies boutique called ‘Chico’s’ where the top brass takes advantage of a talented marketing staff.    My mail box is forever flooded with great discount offers on past, present and future merchandise.   Their incentives are so enticing, I cannot afford to pass them up for fear of losing too much money otherwise.   To  show you how badly they are hurting, I got two calls within twenty-four hours to remind me of their Sunday sale!  They are not alone.   It seems to be commonplace in this neck of the woods.

Fortunately, gas prices have declined from a horrifying almost five dollars to slightly under three — but the costs of airline tickets are still out of sight and the hotels don’t seem to be accommodating the hard-hit travelers by any substantial reductions in room rates.   The entire country has been devastated by the crumbling economy — which causes me to wonder how bridge will be affected — both at the tournament level, specifically the upcoming Boston NABC, and the role it will play in sponsorship — at both ends of the spectrum.   Many people attending the nationals often choose to motor to avoid the excessive airline tab (as well as security nuisances) — but driving is not as thrifty and practical as before — even with the reduced gas prices.  As far as the sponsors, the heavy hitters are probably still in good shape but those in the lower strata may have gotten hurt and the professional job opportunities may not be as plentiful as they were in more fruitful times.

Hopefully, the love of the game will not decrease attendance at our premier events and keep bridge in its proper prospective as the Number One Game — still worthy of our addiction!


8 Comments

LindaNovember 4th, 2008 at 3:22 am

One thing is clear to me, no matter how bad the economy is people will still play bridge and people will still compete.

It may be that fewer people play in some tournaments, although with gas prices falling I think people will still go to nearby tournaments. But then they will play more in clubs, or homes, or online.

There are so many more options today – like sectionals in clubs and online team leagues.

Riki Tiki TaviNovember 5th, 2008 at 4:49 am

Las Vegas has, for many years, been immune to the economic problems of the country as a whole. It has weathered past downturns as gamblers always seem to find a few dollars for their favorite pastime. However, as the city grew and gambling no longer was its main venue, it has felt the blow. The city offers plays, musical productions, university and a community college. 6,000 families a month still move here, many of whom are seniors. It is home to the number one planned community in the US. Corporations rule, the mob is gone. Meanwhile, many local restaurants that have been in business for decades have closed. The strip malls, with small furniture stores, and other local industries, are vacant. Housing sales have slumped and we see many neighborhoods with foreclosure signs. Car sales have also declined, with one of the largest dealerships in the US closing all of its locations. Yes, even Las Vegas, having become one of the fastest growing American cities, now feels the economic crisis that is haunting rest of the entire nation.

Bridge must also experience this impact. It is more economically feasible to turn on your computer, and while wearing your “comfy clothes”, play with your favorite partner for free. Air fares, room rates and resaurant bills have soared, taking there toll on all but the wealthiest. The past NABC in Vegas had extremely high card fees combined with exorbinant room rates for our city. This may be the future norm, but, when something must be given up, nonessentials (quality and service ) always are first to depart. The younger generation cling to their computers for entertainment. Bridge will need to embrace this in order to remain viable. Traveling to three NABC each year may no longer be possible for many players. It now remains for the BOD to figure out how to reduce costs and attract new players. They have been trying to do that for decades, without much success. Look what On-Line Poker has done for the Las Vegas World Series of Poker. The final event attendance has risen from 631 players in 2002 to 8773 entrants in 2006.

BurtNovember 6th, 2008 at 1:44 am

Bridge is a way of life to sooo many people…no way they would give up this stimulating and exciting game!

Ray LeeNovember 11th, 2008 at 1:54 pm

Rikki, the big differences are that (1) poker isn’t actually a card game — it’s a betting game that happens to be played with cards, and (2) it’s a solo affair. The logistics of conducting a large bridge tournament online, IN A SECURE ENVIRONMENT, are surely well beyond us at present.

ErvinTWNovember 12th, 2008 at 1:42 am

Thanks! Nice post.

CharlieNovember 14th, 2008 at 7:22 pm

I cannot imagine what Las Vegas is like now. When my wife and I lived there (’61-’69) it was a small city — only seven major casinos, one duplicate game every other week, and one sectional/year. There were some home games and I did have the good fortune to play in set partner home games against home towner Anne Bernstein and her sister from Miami (Edith Kemp) who visited quite often.

In those early days McCarren (sp?) Airport was quite small — only two gates. Arrivals and departures were announced by an attendant using a megaphone. My work was quite often either 90 miles from Las Vegas or 600 miles away in New Mexico. Bridge playing from time to time was a most welcome diversion.

I rather doubt that I could find my way around now. Other than airport transfers, I have not been to Las Vegas since ’69, but have enjoyed the cooler climes of Reno several times.

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