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Rod Smith

Inside Gaming Column: Security Could Stifle Tourism, Polls Show

21 August 2006

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- Morning-after surveys suggest American travelers overwhelming support elevated security measures in airports following the recent terrorist threat. However, they also show that more than 10 percent of domestic airline passengers say they'll rethink their next vacation plans if security procedures stay the same. Also, surveys have found foreign nationals are reconsidering coming to the United States, whose security precautions they see as Wild Wild West misadventures. Up to 40 percent of foreign travelers say they're inclined to avoid the United States. Despite the strong support, the combined negative domestic and foreign reactions could be enough to spell a 5 percent to 7.5 percent dip in visitors to Las Vegas, short-term or long-term.

In a similar vein, some foreign airport security officials, who are imposing the same new measures as those at U.S. airports, say they are only complying with the "goofy" American demands, as one described them. The officials, who asked not to be named, say they are interested in what is being brought into their countries, e.g., weapons, weapons-making materials and narcotics, but that U.S. officials also are concerned with who is entering the country. Foreign officials say the U.S. overreactions inevitably will spell increasing delays.

The playing public, at least, seems sanguine about a Democratic takeover in Congress come the November elections. Some online Web sites are giving the Republicans no better than a 44 percent chance of holding onto the House. That's not a scientific sample of the voting public, but online oddsmakers, just like sports books, are far more often right than wrong, and usually beat out more conventional commentators. A shift in congressional power could deflate support on Capitol Hill for measures to further ban online gaming, a move many casino executives would welcome heartily.

What a hoot. We've written before about "Hooters girls" serving as blackjack dealers. Well, Michelle Nunes, a blackjack dealer in the Hooters Girl Party Pit here, recently was crowned Miss Hooters International 2006 in an actual competition. Even more on the politically dubious side, however, Hooters Hotel has started a new contest. Join the "Club Orange" just off the Strip and you're automatically entered in a contest to win a Hawaii Getaway. Note: the Hooters in Hawaii isn't even on world-famous Waikiki Beach or Kalakaua Avenue. It's in the Aloha Tower Marketplace in Downtown Honolulu. It seems as if customers might be better off just staying put.

Gaming Wire Editor Rod Smith can be reached by phone at 477-3893 or by e-mail at