LAS VEGAS – Crime is an issue in most large cities. But in a place like Las Vegas, which attracts millions of visitors each year, it’s an especially critical issue.
It was an issue that came up during the Global Gaming Expo (G2E) earlier this month when Circa Resort and Casino owner Derek Stevens and Wynn Resorts CEO shared the stage with Wynn Resorts CEO Craig Billings and CNBC’s Contessa Brewer as part of a keynote roundtable.
That roundtable came less than a week after two people died and six others suffered injuries in a slashing attack on the Las Vegas Strip near the Wynn. A man is in custody facing murder charges in that violent spree. In June, a local man died in a shooting at the Fremont Street Experience, a popular attraction in Downtown Vegas.
Stevens said safety is the top priority that’s local leaders’ minds. Whether it’s on the Strip or in Downtown Vegas, where Stevens owns and operates Circa and other properties.
“Safety is the number one issue in every city in this country and every tourist destination in the country,” Stevens said during the keynote. “I think between Metro (Las Vegas police), between the different federal groups, and between all the casinos, we’re dedicating more resources than we ever have to safety and security in Las Vegas.”
Casino.org had a chance to speak with Stevens after the keynote on visitor safety and other issues.
Below is a lightly edited transcript of the question-and-answer session with Stevens.
What is the message you would send to someone who is interested in coming to Vegas for a vacation or weekend getaway but has a concern about safety?
Derek Stevens: “There’s nothing more important than people feeling safe. If you don’t feel safe, you’re not going to go to a destination, whether it’s Las Vegas or anywhere.
“I think Craig Billings actually said something that was very, very accurate. When you take a look at the visitation that Las Vegas has, from a tourist destination perspective, Vegas is exceptionally safe. There’s no city, no community that has more surveillance cameras, more Metro police that are in place than Vegas does.
“Vegas has had some pretty bad tragedies over the last decade or so. The volume of people that have come through Vegas is also rather huge. And we’ve just got to keep getting better at it because no one wants to go to a tourist destination where you have both the lack of familiarity with the concern about safety. So, fortunately, we’ve had pretty good success and in most of Las Vegas, but obviously, it can be better.”
The Fremont Street Experience has enacted a weekend curfew since the shooting, but are there steps Circa is considering to bolster safety?
DS: “Circa itself has been 21 and up since we opened. We believe that enhances safety on our property. I was happy to see Fremont Street take the same position here, at least for part of the week. I think since that’s happened, the results so far – it’s very early – but the results so far have been very positive.
I think that you’re going to continue to see additional and enhanced safety measures taking place, both along Fremont Street and on the Las Vegas Strip. Many of which are above my paygrade that I know that are actually currently in place that I can’t talk about.
“There’s a collective knowledge, a collective effort on behalf of the LVCVA (Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority), our politicians, our law enforcement, our marketing people, our casino operators. Everyone’s absolutely aligned that safety is absolutely critical for the future of Las Vegas.”
Coming Monday, more from our conversation with Stevens.
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