The general perception out there is that Sin City is a one-industry town. It's easy to see why when all you see from here are pictures and video footage of the Strip at night and those huge hotels and gambling halls and Cirque du Soleil shows. The Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority, or LVCVA, is the principal marketing arm for the city and is undoubtedly doing a wonderful job for the resort sector.
Tourism and gaming certainly is a major player in the local economy, but is it as big as everyone thinks it is? If you look at the percentage of the work force the hotels and casinos employ, which is 18, it isn't that dominant now. Ten years ago the number was much higher at 28%. These stats, by the way, were provided by Las Vegas analyst Jeremy Aguero. It's fair to say that 30 some years ago Vegas probably was a one-industry town, but today it's far from that, and it's better off that way.
The resort business itself is also diversifying. MGM Mirage recently made a bold move and sold half of the CityCenter project to Dubai World. The holding company for Dubai also bought a bunch of MGM Mirage's stock and is MGM Mirage's partner in a future mega resort development on the Strip. Another new entry is the Elad Group based in Israel that has plans to build a luxury resort on the New Frontier site. The anchor building of that is supposed be a copy of New York's Plaza Hotel. Clearly, foreign investments are making inroads into the Southern Nevada economy.
While others are making investments here, local resort companies are eyeing casino projects abroad. Currently one of the favorite locations is Macao where Las Vegas Sands just opened the Venetian Macao and Steve Wynn has a presence there, too. Not to be left far behind, Harrah's Entertainment is also looking into the Asian market. Besides that corner of the world, they are now thinking about taking the Strip-type resort to Europe, South America, the Middle East, Russia and India. Likely to other places, too.
By diversifying its business base, Las Vegas is moving rapidly into the main stream of the American economy and will be from now on affected by its shifts, for better or for worse. On the other hand, these resort operators who are expanding abroad are insulating themselves to some degree from major economic disruptions that can happen here.