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Best of Star Brooks

Gaming Guru

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Reno and Tahoe Faring Better Than Las Vegas

28 September 2001

Las Vegas has been reeling after the disasters of September 11.... but showed a slight rebound... and there are lots of deals being offered in Las Vegas. Reno and Tahoe fared even better, as gaming revenues soared, as did the occupancy rate, which scored 92%. It didn't hurt to be a more "drive-up" market than an airline-dependent market. It also didn't hurt that Reno was hosting the annual "Street Vibrations" celebration, which draws thousands of motorcycles to the area. The overflow was even found at Stateline over the weekend.... as the road through Lake Tahoe is a popular scenic route this time of year.... as the Aspens first begin to change into their brilliant fall plumage... Soon, photographers.... pro and novice.... will be stopping alongside the highways in places like "Hope Valley" to capture their memento of a Lake Tahoe Autumn....

I, too, found my little struggling business knocked for a double whammy as a result of the attacks... and the fact that not only did the casinos put a hiring freeze into effect, they also re-arranged marketing and advertising budgets as well. Prior to September 11, things were coming together again for the Tahoe Gaming Guide and the Reno Gaming Guide. While having to pick up the pieces so many times, I thought that it could come together again.... but it hasn't.... and I find myself plummeting towards the bottom of the cliff that I dove off of 600 days ago, the crash seemingly unavoidable, as options and offers appear to fade from my grasp, leaving me clutching my fist in the air, full of nothing. I look into my parent's eyes, now devoid of their hopes to live out their lives in comfortable retirement..... And I feel the tightness in my chest and lungs as I gasp for air, seeking relief, grasping for hope, and lost in silent prayer.... prayer for answers, for guidance, and for salvation.... none of which appears to have been granted... and the sand in my hourglass runs out. The one answer that had been offered had come from an Indian woman.... last of her tribe, indigenous to Lake Tahoe. She had called me out of the blue, and promised to help me out financially. But her grant did not come in time to help.... and September 11 threw her out of whack too. It doesn't look like I could fight my way out of a paper bag right now.... and it is a numbing feeling, one that keeps taking my breath away. My expression described to me today by a friend was "like a deer caught in the headlights..." I won't argue the point.

So I am angry. Angry that terrorists could inflict such damage on the American lifestyle... that they had the ability to not only demolish thousands of lives, but also the ability to dash the dreams of the living, leaving thousands just like me, sorting through the rubble of what was once our castles in the sky.... and we have nowhere to turn, and nowhere to go. Entrepreneurs are already operating at risk, in pursuit of dreams and visions of success. Creativity unbridled, treading new ground so that others may follow. When we fall, it is a lonely and painful experience.

I don't know what is around the corner for me. It is a dark and scary place that I had not hoped to have to set foot in... but the devastation that has been left in the wake of my efforts to harvest that field of dreams is the most traumatic nightmare I can personally imagine. It is in the faces of my family, sorrow, disappointment, stress that should have never been.... Because I had a dream, and dared to pursue it with the vigor and the energy that it deserved, and because my conviction in the dream was so pure, and so driven.... that others shared it, tasted it, and yes.... dared dream it with me. I feel the tragic loss of that effort, knowing that if I had chosen to ignore the vision, and "settled" for a "normal" life... that none of the circumstances present would even have emerged. It is as if I have let everyone down that relied on me.... and the shambles of my family, the health of my family, and the lives that relied on me.... pets included too....

I don't know if this is the last time I will be able to write for a while or not. I submit my column the day before it appears on this site. Next week the editorial staff will be at the Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas. I was told that I could send two articles now or take a week off. I have opted for the latter choice.... the unknown has me almost tongue-tied... and I really don't know if my words would have much merit two weeks from now. If I were writing about Tahoe, it wouldn't be up to date.... everything changes in the blink of an eye. After the tragic and disgusting attacks on America, we are all painfully aware of that. We will never forget.