The VT Interview With David G. Schwartz, UNLV Gaming Historian

Cutting the Wire and Rolling Bones in Suburban Xanadu

Posted by Chuckmonster

VT: The UNLV Gaming Studies collection contains hundreds of thousands of photos, artifacts, advertising, and promotional items covering the history of gaming in Las Vegas. Are there any plans to exhibit these artifacts in a casino setting (like the current Gangsters and Gamblers exhibit at the Tropicana) and if not, are there any public viewings or exhibits on the UNLV campus?

DS: Oh yeah--I've just finished up an exhibit for this year's Global Gaming Expo (sept 13-15, Las Vegas Convention Center) called "A Centennial Celebration of Gaming in Las Vegas." After the expo, I could see continuing it at UNLV's Lied Library. Casino space is so valuable that I don't know that it would play well in that setting. I'm also putting it online, so it will accessible for a long time.

VT: With the steady growth of gaming in Las Vegas, it is feasible to project that eventually (possibly in 200-500 years) the entire highway from Los Angeles to Las Vegas will be lined with Casino properties creating one large MEGA strip. Is it possible to predict saturation?

DS: That's hard to say. 500 years from now I doubt that we'll be using internal combustion engines. With climate change, the desert might be unihabitable. Maybe if that happens we'll establish "Neo Vegas" on the moon or something. I don't like to make long-range predictions, because you never know which variables will change. For example, back in the 1830s people were planning for an intercontiental canal system. Well, the railroads put that idea to rest. The cars and airplanes replaced railroads for a lot of travel. If you said back in 1940 that Las Vegas wouldn't have passenger railway service, they'd have told you that the city would go bust. Obviously that hasn't happened. Still, talking about the future has gotten me thinking--maybe my next book will be a sci-fi "what if" future history of Vegas. Or maybe not.

VT: Tribal Casinos are mushrooming up all over the country, the large majority of which offer gaming only, no spectacular shows, fancy restaurants, trendy clubs or bars - nothing but cards and slots. Will Tribal Casinos trend towards exo-Suburban Xanadu micro-gaming - an entertainment expense akin to dinner and a movie?

DS: I think that's definitely where it's heading. In Suburban Xanadu I said that most visitors to casinos aren't tourists--they're commuters. Gambling is increasingly accepted as just another entertainment option. Every time has its own kind of gambling, and I think it's a commentary on our society that we prefer to gamble in heavily regulated and taxed casinos run by large corporations. Gambling follows trends in the general culture.

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damn good interview.

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