Vice Squad
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
The NY Times Goes Casino Wacky

Sunday, March 25, 2007, seemed like a normal enough day, but somehow it was something of a gambling bonanza at the Gray Lady (and today is something of a Vice Squad milestone, our first use of that weird "Gray Lady" sobriquet for the New York Times). Not one, not two, but three substantial articles that centered on casinos, of all places. Someone at the SEC might want to check for unusual trading activity in gambling stocks late last week.

Article #1: The Business section holds a story about the world's largest betting locale, Macao. Mostly we learn a good deal about the fellow who for 40 years held a monopoly on casino gambling in Macao, but now he is being forced to share. He shared before, too, with some unsavory groups, but the extent to which he was forced to do so remains unclear. His new sharing is with some of the major players in the international casino world, such as MGM Mirage and Steve Wynn. The erstwhile monopolist (not monogamist, apparently) has had 17 children with 4 wives, and has opened a casino in Pyongyang. He also enjoys ballroom dancing.

Article #2: The special Style Magazine featured Spring 2007 travel, including a short piece on how casinos have become packaged with lots of upscale non-gambling offerings. Here we learn, parenthetically, that "Ceasars Forum in Las Vegas is North America’s highest-grossing shopping area per square foot," and we also hear again about some of those new competitors in Macao.

Article #3: The Sunday Styles section leads with a description of what it is like to watch virtually non-stop college basketball for days at a time at a Las Vegas casino. A healthy interest in alcohol, nicotine, and gambling seems to lend some appeal to the activity. (The article is titled "Victory Never Smelled Worse" -- you'll have to read it for the explanation (though a reasoned guess should suffice), Vice Squad has its limits.) You will not be surprised to learn that gender balance is not the rule.

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