Is Nevada recovering? Depends whom you ask

By Cristina Silva

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, Dec. 3 2011 9:00 p.m. MST

At CityCenter, an upscale retail, hotel and casino resort on the Las Vegas Strip, sales are up 27 percent at Crystal's, the city's latest upscale retail center, with its Louis Vuitton, Miu Miu and Versace outposts. Roughly 14 percent of the property remains vacant, with two Dolce & Gabbana stores slated to open there next year. The mall flanks Aria and Vdara, both upscale resorts.

"Aria continues to emerge as a premier destination for convention business groups," Robert H. Baldwin, president of CityCenter, told investors last month.

Hotel rooms and bar tabs are also up compared with a year ago, but they are nowhere near the rollicking levels of 2007, before tourism dropped and hotels across the Las Vegas Strip closed or filed for bankruptcy.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board recently estimated that casinos statewide made $53.8 million less from gamblers in September than they did a year ago, a 6 percent drop. In northern Nevada, which has struggled to fight off the rise of Indian casinos in California, some casinos saw revenues drop 14.3 percent.

The people who are hitting the casino floor are shunning the upscale table games that keep casinos flush and are instead sticking to less profitable slot machines. That hurts people across Nevada, even those who aren't directly tied to the industry, because casinos that make less money pay less in taxes. Casino-generated taxes were down 9 percent in October from a year ago.

State demographer Jeff Hardcastle said the latest Census figures won't be made public until later this year, but driver license data suggests some people are still moving to Nevada, "but it's not to a magnitude that it would offset the people moving out."

For unemployed Nevadans, the state hitting bottom offers little encouragement.

Jim Rogers, 49, has had trouble sleeping since he lost his construction job three years ago. He has been living off of his 401 K.

"There are no jobs," he said. "The casinos are operating on a meager staff. Where they used to have 10 people, they now have six people doing the work."

For those who do have jobs, a sense of security remains distant.

Evangelina Rodeiles works the night shift at the cafeteria at the Venetian casino-hotel on the Las Vegas Strip. Her house value has dropped from $155,000 to $80,000 in the past six years. Her husband is an underemployed construction worker.

"I want to believe things are getting better, but I don't see it," she said.

West, whose idyllic neighborhood has been overrun by foreclosures in recent years, said there is no bright side.

"We are losing our community," she said.

Try out the new DeseretNews.com design!
try beta learn more
Get The Deseret News Everywhere