Reader Kevin writes Vin Surynowicz:
“Here in rural Hillsboro, Texas, people still smoke openly, many of them indoors; many inside their own shops. … All our restaurants allow smoking. There are public ashtrays at the front doors of the county courthouse. Tobacco puritanism just hasn’t caught on here.
“My explanation for this is twofold: 1) Pompous people from Dallas, 65 miles away, can’t afford to move here and commute, and b) the masses of economic refugees from socialist California aren’t impacting Texas quite as badly as Nevada…
“You say the gang of New Puritans will not drain and strangle Vegas within five years, and you project a lengthy decades-long death rattle for the city. I disagree. I visited Vegas roughly a year ago, and I was disgusted by how much the Strip has morphed into a pricey Galleria, a giant boutique. In five years, I predict Vegas will already be feeling the pinch of a severe tourist downturn.
“I don’t think it will require better flights to Amsterdam or the Caribbean. One smart U.S. city with gambling could supplant Vegas pretty quickly, especially if it’s an established poker haven.
“My money is on Biloxi, which will be aggressively rebuilding itself soon.”
I can see the TV ads now, Kevin, suitably illustrated with color footage of tourists happily engaging in the specified activities on the sparkling Gulf Coast, while their opposite numbers are shown in grainy black-and-white footage here in Sin City being clubbed to the ground by Metro’s “New Year’s Eve Squad,” shot down by the Baby’s Daddy Removal Team out in Southwest 11, or herded into Paddy wagons: “Tobacco: banned in Vegas, still welcome in Biloxi! Prostitution: illegal in Vegas, recently legalized in Biloxi! Hashish bars: still banned in Vegas, recently re-legalized in Biloxi! Handguns: registered in Vegas, welcomed in Biloxi!”