A Remake of Reno, Nevada?

Reno's Convention Center, part of the formula for the future

Reno’s Convention Center, part of the formula for the future

12°  What makes Reno, Nevada unique? Here are some of the wrong answers:

  • Mountains – Plenty of cities the size of Reno are next to, or in mountains.
  • Outdoor Recreation — Again, there are no shortages of cities near outdoor recreation.
  • Arts — Many cities have art festivals, and most art festivals have more professional (paid) artists, but Reno relies mostly on artists working for free.
  • Gaming — Absolutely the most non-unique thing about Reno

Reno is Dying
The question about Reno’s uniqueness is critical to the survival of Reno. Over fifty years ago Reno discovered tourism and that vaulted a small desert town into easy money and big growth. The city learned that when people make their money elsewhere and spend it in Reno, the economy of Reno booms.

But for the last decade Reno has lost its uniqueness. Gaming is something you can do at the nearest Indian Casino. If you want to party and see gaudy construction lit up like game show on LSD, then go to Las Vegas. Reno is nothing when it comes to gaming.

Reno’s is Unique
The one thing that Reno has that no other city has is hotel room per capita. Nevada has one hotel room for every 14 residents, and Reno’s ratio equals or exceeds that average. Reno is a city designed for conventions. The problem is how to get convention organizers to consider Reno as a great convention town.

What won’t work is to keep gaming as the attraction. That industry is poison. It demands that the convention goer stay on the property and gamble, which defeats all the other great attractions that might attract repeat business, and American business people do not want to pay for their employees to go and party. The best thing that could happen in Reno is for gaming to be made illegal.

The other challenge is to get all the properties to work as one. That doesn’t happen that often. One property can shoot the city’s bid for a convention down by not cooperating.

However, if Reno can let go of gaming and focus on the big picture, it could be made into the premier convention town.

That’s a big ‘If.’

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Tipping Point In Reno

The Reno Arch:  A gaudy symbol of the past

The Reno Arch: A gaudy symbol of the past

349°  Recently a prominent Nevada gaming family, the Asguaga’s, sold their casino/hotel property. It was a sign that Reno has finally reached the tipping point in gaming. There is no recovery in the casino industry.

In 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed into law the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act that opened the flood gates of Native American involvement in the industry. By the dawn of the 21st century it was apparent that the boom of new casinos in California would siphon off gaming revenues in Nevada for the foreseeable future.

After over a decade of declining profits, Reno casino properties try to carve up a dwindling piece of the tourism dollar. The problem is that the Nevada gaming industry has nothing new to attract people to Reno, nor can they shake the paradigm that gambling is the only means to earn revenue.

The pawn and loan industry is ugly step sister of Nevada gaming

The pawn and loan industry is ugly step sister of Nevada gaming

241°  Gaming has a dark side that is never discussed in public in Nevada. Near every casino area will be pawn and quick loan businesses ready to suck in the weak and gullible tourist or resident. In addition, gaming areas create the perfect storm of people out late at night, drunk, with cash. Violent crime in Nevada always ranks near the top in the United States, in part because tourist are easy prey to the criminal element that hang out in the shadows of the glitz of casinos.

Gaming is the Titanic of industries and Reno is staying with the ship

Gaming is the Titanic of industries and Reno is staying with the ship

246°  It is unfortunate that gaming ever came to Reno. Nestled near Lake Tahoe, the Sierra Nevada mountains, and a four-hour drive to San Francisco and the ocean, the town could be filled with diverse industries making it nearly recession proof, but because the community has become dependent on the gaming industry, it has no will to challenge the hand that used to feed it. In ten years or less, Reno will be the next Detroit.