The annual Labor Day weekend holiday in the U.S. took on a slightly different form this year, with many people looking to try to forget, at least for a little while, the continuing coronavirus pandemic. Las Vegas wanted to take advantage of the long weekend to lure in visitors as the city’s casinos tried to regain some of the massive losses they incurred due to COVID-19, and there was no shortage of deals to be had at area hotels. However, the attempt to draw in large crowds may have backfired, as the amount of violence and destruction seen at some properties was something no one had expected. According to one analyst, the chaotic scene experienced by some venues was a direct result of cheap, or free, hotel rooms that may have attracted riff-raff that would have otherwise not descended on the city.
Greg Mullen, VP at CDC Consulting, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal (LVRJ), “Cheap retail rates for the hotel rooms (and) free rooms are going to the players that have never had free rooms in Las Vegas. They’re going deeper in their database to get players who aren’t as lucrative, because it’s better just to get a body in there.” He added that properties will need to figure out how to determine price points that will be attractive enough to give hotel occupancy rates a boost, but high enough to keep out “less-desirable guests,” according to the LVRJ.
The problem, however, started before the long weekend. A month ago, crime in Las Vegas was already on the rise and crime tracking site CrimeMapping.com points out that, in just a two-mile area of the Las Vegas Strip, there were 324 911 calls in one week last month. Most, 137, were for disturbing the peace, while 72, the next-highest on the list, were for assault. Burglary, vehicle theft and vandalism also made it to the top of the list.
There’s more to this than just rates that reportedly attract unsavory characters. The average daily room rate in Vegas, as indicated by the LVRJ, is $104.39 – 18% lower than it was last year. That certainly doesn’t seem to be enough of a factor to suddenly attract a completely different – and unwanted – clientele. More than likely, the issue spawns from pent-up stress and frustration that has been building as a result of continued lockdowns and ongoing protests against racial and social inequalities. Nevada, home to Las Vegas, has seen a rash of protests over the past couple of months, with the National Guard having to be called in temporarily to try to restore order.
The Encore in Las Vegas was the site for a serious brawl over Labor Day weekend, with the incident even finding its own airtime on YouTube. This fight, which involved at least 15 people, has been the basis for some people (Mullen excluded) to assert that the low hotel rates are the reason behind the increased violence and destruction. However, according to a number of sources, including some at the property, the brawl was the result of the venue holding a pool party that was open to everyone, including non-guests. From the time recording began until the time it stopped, less than 40 seconds had elapsed.
Wynn Resorts, which owns the Encore, even confirmed that the brawl was between “non-hotel” guests, adding that there were no injuries reported. Still, it plans on increasing security and taking additional measures at both Encore and Wynn Las Vegas going forward to prevent similar chaos.
Most Americans would probably feel offended by the insinuation that a hotel room that costs a little more than $100 a night correlates to an assumed “lower class” of individual. The problem is not with cheaper accommodations; there’s something much larger taking place in the U.S. right now.