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Sunday 22 September 2019

Las Vegas may have to tone down edgy image in wake of shooting

The Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas
The Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas

Las Vegas' tourism sector is bracing for changes in the aftermath of the massacre that killed 58 people at an outdoor music festival.

Analysts who closely track the finances of the city's casino companies say Las Vegas will see a short-term dip in visitors in response to the shooting.

Casinos and police may have to impose new security measures after Stephen Paddock brought more than 20 rifles into his hotel room and drove a car filled with explosives into the parking garage.

The What Happens In Vegas Stays In Vegas slogan has been put on hold and the Mandalay Bay hotel used by the gunman has also toned down its edgy advertising.

Electronic billboards that typically promote restaurants, concerts, a topless pool and other entertainment are now showing a dedicated phone line for victims and their families, along with words of appreciation for emergency carers and casino employees.

"We've been there for you during the good times. Thank you for being there for us now," reads a black-and-white poster message with the city skyline and "#VegasStrong."

It is hard to quantify the effect the shooting will have on Las Vegas tourism.

Planes still carry loads of tourists to the desert oasis, convention-goers fill large halls to discuss the latest industry trends, and slot machines ring in the casinos.

But stock prices of the main Las Vegas casino companies all took a minor tumble after the shooting, in an indication the attack will have some effect on the industry.

Analysts with investment bank Morgan Stanley forecast the shooting will decrease demand for the Las Vegas market for about six months and have a 4% to 6% economic effect.

The analysts looked into the effect of terrorist attacks on "revenue per available room", a key gauge of a lodging company's performance, across different markets to measure the shooting's potential impact.

The report said not all markets are alike, but the effects on tourism of events such as the Orlando, Florida, nightclub attack have gradually become less pronounced and shorter.

On October 1, Paddock, a 64-year-old professional video poker player, shattered windows of his hotel suite on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel casino and unleashed withering gunfire at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival below before killing himself.

His vehicle was found at the hotel's massive parking garage with a potentially deadly cargo of 1,600 rounds of ammunition and 90 pounds of chemical explosives.

In the days after the shooting, visitors found marked police SUVs parked outside their hotels along the Strip.

Security employees of the Wynn Las Vegas and Encore casino-resorts used hand-held metal detectors to check bags.

Guards asked some visitors to open their suitcases.

But those measures have since been scaled back.

A tour of several major resorts found no apparent new security measures other than guards checking room keys at Mandalay Bay.


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