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Is Las Vegas The Next Detroit? | Zero Hedge


Is Las Vegas The Next Detroit? | Zero Hedge.

With still more than half the homeowners with a mortgage in the state of Nevada underwater on their mortage and a hoped for recovery in prices now petering out as ‘investors’ realize banks have completed foreclosures and are set to unload their huge inventories, fear is growing that Las Vegas (and for that matter Atlantic City) could be the next Detroit. However, as FoxNY reports, the nascent dreams of the good old days face an even bigger headwind – that of gambling regulation easements (online gambling for instance) and globalization which are impacting their biggest industries. Time will tell if these two cities will end up like Detroit.

Via FoxNY,

With the closure of the recent Atlantic Club Casino Hotel, rumors of the bankrupt Revel being sold to Hard Rock, more than half of the mortgages in Las Vegas under water, casinos opening up all around the country and online gambling legislation underway in various states, it seems as if the reasons for the very existence of Atlantic City and Las Vegas are in serious jeopardy.

However in the late 1980s, a landmark ruling considered Native-American reservations to be sovereign entities not bound by state law. It was the first potential threat to the iron grip Atlantic City and Vegas had on the gambling and entertainment industry.

Then Macau, formally a colony of Portugal, was handed back to the Chinese in 1999. The gambling industry there had been operated under a government-issued monopoly license by Stanley Ho’s Sociedade de Turismo e Diversões de Macau. The monopoly was ended in 2002 and several casino owners from Las Vegas attempted to enter the market.

Under the one country, two systems policy, the territory remained virtually unchanged aside from mega casinos popping up everywhere. All the rich ‘whales’ from the far east had no reason anymore to go to Las Vegas to spend their money.

Then came their biggest threat.

As revenue from dog and horse racing tracks around the United States dried up, government officials needed a way to bring back jobs and revitalize the surrounding communities. Slot machines in race tracks started in Iowa in 1994 but took off in 2004 when Pennsylvania introduced ‘Racinos’ in an effort to reduce property taxes for the state and to help depressed areas bounce back.

As of 2013, racinos are legal in ten states: Delaware, Louisiana, Maine, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and West Virginia

From June 2012 to June 2013, Aqueduct matched a quarter of Atlantic City’s total gaming revenue from its dozen casinos: $729.2 million compared with A.C.’s $2.9 billion. It has taken an estimated 15 percent hit on New Jersey casino revenue and climbing.

The situation in Vegas isn’t much better. The Great Recession of the late 2000s hit Las Vegas hard. As the recession wore on, and as gambling received approval in various jurisdictions throughout the United States, folks realized they didn’t need to travel thousands of miles just to gamble.

More than half of all home owners with a mortgage in the entire state of Nevada owe more than their homes are worth.

But according to Bloomberg.com this so-called bubble is simply from banks completing their foreclosures and holding onto inventory.  The increased value of properties has been attracting various investors and speculators, which is helping fuel this latest rise in real estate prices.

Experts say once banks start releasing the foreclosed homes into the market to start selling them, the prices may begin to get depressed again.

One local said “The reality is, people just won’t fly to the middle of a desert to play some slots, watch shows and sit down for some blackjack when they can drive right near their town or city, or play legally online.”

And now it looks like the feds may soon allow online gambling across the United States.

With this in mind, it seems the niche that Las Vegas and Atlantic City once offered as a gambling and entertainment hub is heading toward the dustbin of history.

Time will tell if these two cities will end up like Detroit. However, the fact that they are losing their biggest industries to major competition, much like Detroit did, with depressed housing, casinos bankrupting/closing and businesses fleeing, makes their fate seem eerily similar.

 


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