I was only in Las Vegas for a single week, but that was enough time for me to make several ’realizations’- close to these famous light bulb moments.
I’ve already written about some of the major differences between American and Danish cultures (and leaving Japan after 10 days today, I have a post with differences between Denmark and Japan coming, too).
But, I’d like to share some of the light bulb-moments as well.
”Las Vegas wasn’t built by winners”
Riding with a friendly Uber-driver to the McCarran International Airport, we talked about the American dream and Las Vegas.
My driver previously had been driving a regular taxi and had even been doing limousine-service for some of the major hotels, like Flamingo and MGM.
He had, on numerous occasions, until he quit the taxi and started driving for Uber, experienced mainly men in the middle of the night taking a taxi to a pawn shop to pawn their rings, bracelets, necklaces, watches – anything of value, really, just to take a cab back to the casino in order to try winning back the losses.
Of course, you never win back the losses.
As my driver said: ”Las Vegas wasn’t built by winners.” It’s a city with most of the world’s biggest hotels and around 200.000 hotel beds built by losers. Had people been winning at the casinos, they would not go. It’s crazy to think about.
Video of The Strip – Las Vegas Boulevard. Not made by me.
In Copenhagen, where I live, we have casinos, sure. I think we have a few, but I don’t know. A have a few friends who go, occasionally – like a time or two a year – but no one who goes regularly. People use online casinos like this if anything. We don’t have casinos and gambling in our culture.
And, I’m really glad that’s the case.
Even if you gamble away too much money in the casino in Denmark, you’ll be OK. A major part of our workforce are members of our ”a-kasser” – a system designed to give us around $ 2.500 a month for up to 2 years if you lose your job and have been paying $ 70 a month for at least a year before. You can even become a member when you’re still studying, so you’re able to receive money the moment you’re jobless and educated (even though that’s at a bit lower tariff, around 71 %, as I remember it). Our system with a-kasser allows people to live their lives with a state backed insurance solution.
Even if you’re not a member or if you have exhausted your 2 years, you’re able to get around $ 1.500 a month – enough to live outside the big cities and eat – if you have no money, no house, or nothing. It’s not fun and there’s no luxury, but you will live.
Greed is spreading
Las Vegas is Las Vegas because the state of Nevada, for a number of decades, was the only state in America that allowed gambling.
Since gambling, on par with spending money in general, is taxed, the state of Nevada has profited hugely from gambling for many years.
The other states looked at this and thought, ”We want a piece of this, too.”
For that reason, gambling is allowed in most of the United States today. The rules may not be as favourable as the case of Las Vegas, but casinos are allowed.
As I see it, this means greed – state greed – is spreading.
This will make it possible for more Americans to start gambling. We know, the more people gamble, the more people will eventually have a problem. Las Vegas wasn’t built by the winners, nor is any other casino, ever.
I consider myself a liberal in the Danish sense (not the American). I like the idea of ”Kardemomme-law”. The Kardemomme-law refers to a popular Danish story, named ”Folk og røvere i Kardemomme by” (People and robbers in city of Kardemomme).
Here, deputy chief Sebastian has made one single law: You may do what you want as long as no one else is getting hurt.
I love this idea.
And I’m wondering:
If you gamble at casinos and, eventually, lose your money – because the house always wins – does that hurt only you?
I doubt it.
Experiencing the CES-exposition was a fun experience, but Las Vegas as a city and, especially as a concept, won’t pull me back for another visit.