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Vegas’ long road to recovery

There aren’t many cities in America that weren’t affected by the 2008 banking crisis, and the recession that followed. But few can claim to have been as hard hit as Las Vegas has.

But after years of struggle, there are signs that the city is starting to recover.

 

Hard times

Las Vegas' famous welcome signBy 2008, Vegas had already been feeling the strain as more and more gamblers turned to online casinos to enjoy their hobby. And when the credit crunch hit, it did so hard.

 

As profit margins vanished, the big operators whose casinos dominated the Strip shifted their attentions to new markets like Macau and Singapore. While smaller firms faced dwindling returns and often bankruptcy.

In January 2011, unemployment stood at 14.4%; while in February 2012, Las Vegas had the fifth highest rate of foreclosures of any major US metropolis.

 

A brighter future

But there are the early signs of recovery in Vegas, too. Two of its downtown casinos are due to undergo major overhauls soon. In the case of the Fitzgeralds Casino & Hotel, its casino and 638 rooms are to be tastefully revamped, and the casino itself is to be rebranded as the D.

 

Meanwhile, some $14 million is being poured into expanding the Golden Gate Casino & Hotel, which will boost hotel capacity and add a further 4,000 sq ft to its casino.

 

New opportunities across the board

The Las Vegas Linq will open in 2013Nor is it just the gambling sector that’s doing its bit in helping Vegas recover. O’Sheas Casino may be set to vanish from the Strip soon, but in its place will emerge the Linq, a new $550-million retail and entertainment complex due to open in 2013.

 

Sports fans too will soon have an added incentive to visit Sin City, after it was announced that the popular Pac-12 basketball tournament would be moving there in 2013. This alone is expected to bring in as much as $27 million extra, excluding gambling.

A return to the good old days may still be a fair way off. But Vegas’ fortunes are slowly improving.