Vegas Plays High Stakes
Games With SARS


As SARS sweeps across Asia and the region's richest gamblers choose not to bet their health on a trans-Pacific flight, Las Vegas casinos are winning over big spenders from other regions, offering high-stakes tournaments to sustain play, casino bosses said on Wednesday.
Gamblers from the Far East are some of the highest wagering players in Las Vegas, and annually make up a large portion of casino revenues from table games like baccarat.
But as the pneumonia-like illness known as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome has spread through the Far East, the thought of contracting the illness through travel -- even First Class -- is one game not worth playing.
"People don't want to be on a plane with 300 others for 14 hours and potentially be exposed to the virus," Harry Hagerty, chief financial officer of Park Place Entertainment Corp. said in a recent interview explaining slowness in foreign business he attributed to SARS.
"Hong Kong is virtually crippled," and customers were staying home, Marz said. China, Taiwan and Singapore had also been affected in the last 20 days or so, he said. He said Mandalay could compensate for the drop with special events, like a recent prize boxing match, and by focusing marketing efforts on domestic and South American high-end business.
SARS - Already been here and gone...
From Les
Came in December, the biggest month of the year for Asian tourists, who don't celebrate Christmas and come to take advantage of all the deals. Those of us "lucky" to have caught it then and over it by late-February mid-March were also lucky to slip in under the radar; at that time none of the doctors here knew what the hell they were dealing with. My own said it looked like asthma (because of the wheezing) which is ridiculous. But it was SARS; you don't spend three months trying to cough up your natural lung secretions because of any other known disease. And the allergic reaction at the end of the illness would mimic asthma, as even minimal breathing induced intense coughing fits (at midpoint strong enough to make you black out momentarily.)
Good news is once you have it and survive, you're immune. And in people not of Asian or Amer-Indian descent it manifests as a two week cold. My roomate didn't even get it.



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