Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

August 30, 2008

UPDATED: Nevada Black Leaders Upset by Blog

Posted by Hunter

My friend Steve Friess wrote the other day about the closing of the 40/40 Club at Palazzo. Steve is a curious and thoughtful guy who isn't scared about political correctness when he writes - that's part of what makes him a great reporter.

Well, it seems some people took what he wrote the wrong way:

As someone that knows Steve a little bit, I can say with certainty that he was just positing a question - something for discussion (I suggest you read the comments on his story). That's what he does - he fosters discussion. If we can't talk about this stuff, we'll never make any progress.

Update: Steve has posted an update here:


Read archived comments (7 so far)
August 30, 2008 10:59 AM Posted by Dr. B

A chicken wing is a powerful piece of food.

August 31, 2008 3:28 PM Posted by Dave

This just in: a coalition of clowns, acrobats, and Circus Circus execs are going to protest UNLV prof Rainier Spencer's less-than-favorable mention of their favorite casino:
"The post by Friess "seems to suggest that a black-themed club doesn't belong anywhere on the Strip. Where does it belong? Circus Circus or where else? Downtown?""
I know that CC caters to a downmarket crowd, but there are far worse places on the Strip--the joyless IP comes to mind. And the Carousel Bar continues to be one of the city's hottest nightspots.

August 31, 2008 10:57 PM Posted by Alex Dixon

(As posted on the original blog)

The gratuitous use of culturally insensitive stereotypes is the only aspect of this post that gives anyone (black or white) reason to take umbrage with this commentary. Specifically, I am referring to the phrases “folks who like a good chicken wing”, “Hell to the no”, “Hard to sell chicken wings”.

When discussing other examples of mismatched pairings along the strip no where did you utilize racially inflammatory language to emphasize your point? You came close with the comment “mimosas-caviar crowd” when referring to the failings of Spamalot; however, this phrase has no direct connotation to one specific racial / ethnic group but rather a class / socio-economic set.

If an Italian themed restaurant were to fail within the same complex, would you use commonly recognized stereotypes to demean Italians?

Pointing out a mismatch in marketing messages is fine. In fact you are not unique in recognizing obvious flaws within the business model; however, the issue many within the black community have with your characterization of the business arrangement is your suggestion that an event / business that attracts large amounts of black customers is not appropriate or will not perform well because “it’s hard to sell chicken wings” even to the CEO of China Mobile.

Why is addressing this ignorance important? As a native Las Vegan, I am deeply protective of the image of inclusiveness that we as a city must project to the world in order to stay culturally relevant in a changing cultural climate? In other words we as a city need to stay on the cutting edge of providing quality entertainment to all people to keep the nearly 40 million visitors increasing over time along with the tax revenue they generate. Your columns and commentary are read by thousands of potential visitors to and investors in the Las Vegas community. Spreading rumors or innuendos that business models dependent on a disproportionate amount of black customers is neither welcome nor viable is unfortunate to say the least. African Americans make up nearly 13% of the population of the United States, which begs the question why don’t we advertise in Ebony or Jet? Further why don’t we compete for conventions such as the “Essence Festival” which adds anywhere from $100 - $200 million to the New Orleans economy annually?

Are we as African Americans in Las Vegas a bit sensitive on this topic? Probably?
Why? My bet is that many of us remember stories from our parents when black folks weren’t welcome inside the strip hotels (off the stage Sammy wasn’t either).

In summary, you are entitled to your opinion and to be politically incorrect, but please recognize that when you direct thinly veiled stereotypical comments at a specific ethnic group we feel it is our duty to correct them because of the wider implications this may have on future businesses focused on our community.

Alex Dixon

August 31, 2008 11:12 PM Posted by Hunter

We spoke briefly on the issue of inclusiveness as it relates to the gaming industry in Las Vegas on the last Vegas Gang.

I'm borrowing from others with my phrasing but one of the things I've noticed about (modern) Las Vegas gaming is that does indeed seem that the only color that matters is green.

Even if you deplore aspects of that reality, it still seems to hold true, unlike a lot of other places. When it comes to entertainment, it's not an unreasonable way to decide who gets treated like a king and who doesn't.

August 31, 2008 11:34 PM Posted by mike_ch

To reply to Alex's comment at the risk of going off-topic, we don't advertise on BET because, believe it or not, the powers that be don't want their business here. Example: Last year when the Sheriff asked venues to stop booking rap shows. Another anecdote along that same line, I've talked to former casino security people who HATE hip-hop nights at their resorts night club because they claimed it stirred up more trouble.

Much more publicly, NBA weekend has left such a bad taste in everybody's mouth that I don't think Vegas will be chasing the Young Urban Black demographic for many years. Though our positioning makes us look like a distant Los Angeles suburb, we don't have anything near the gang scene and are closer to Phoenix/Scottsdale in most all cultural respects.

And then you have the double-edged sword about how a place with a vibe that excludes certain races is obviously racist but how a lot of businesses create a vibe that attracts certain races and whether that's racist. We float closest to this in the platitudes we make for high rollers from east Asia: certain cultures' love of red and the number eight is commonly referenced in the hotels. However, this isn't really a discrimination/race thing as much as it is a national culture.

Vegas hasn't been a segregated town for many years, make entertainment all kinds of people can enjoy and sell it to everyone equally. This is ultimately less racist than coming up with unique attempts to capture race demographics.

September 1, 2008 7:07 PM Posted by Dram_man

What gets me here is the double standard. Nobody wants to seem say anything against a stereotype oft peddled in the gaming press, Asians are prolific, if not reckless, gamblers, yet suggest (right or wrong) that another demographic has its own gambling habits and its open season for smear attacks.

September 3, 2008 12:04 PM Posted by South Looper

Did the place make any money? Seemed to me when I went there, it was the worst spot in all of the MEGACENTER. Not fit for anyone of any race to patronize. Just because you can rap doesn't mean you know how to run a bar/restaurant. And where else have you seen sports bar food in the MEGACENTER, Wynn, or Bellagio? It's not the appropriate location for that type of business; the market has spoken. But of course, you have to be polite in writing the obituary of a pop icon's pet project.