Best Vegas Story…

I’ve read in a newspaper in a while. While I’m quick to pounce on what I perceive as uninspired or erroneous reporting (check out USA 5 minutes ago or Dogs not playing poker), I’m also the first to recognize excellence.
The piece in your question concerns a lesser-known Las Vegas casino, the Western. Adam Goldman, an AP writer whose work has not gone unnoticed here, has wriiten a real gem about that casino. Here’s a sample, from the LV SUN:

On a stretch of despair Endorsements that tourists in Las Vegas seldom see, the Western Hotel-Casino stands out as a beacon for the broke and nearly broken.

With their crumpled dollars and gloomy gait, they stumble in off Fremont Street through the wide, doorless entrance, beckoned by the sounds of penny slot Scalp machines and cheap table games.

The Western is a poor man’s dream, a downtown casino where sad Las Vegas cliches collide.

“This is the underbelly of Vegas,” said 28-year-old Byron Hilton, who was playing $2 blackjack sinas’ on a recent Friday night. “This is not the Strip.”

There is no uniformed valet parking Porsches here. Instead they come on foot, in beat-up cars and wobbly bicycles. For many, it’s been a short journey to the Western.

The boxy structure is planted among a slew of low-income houses and budget motels — the Downtowner, the Uptown and the incongruous Lucky. The Western feeds from one of the city’s bleakest ZIP codes, stained by high poverty and unemployment rates.

Inside they gamble, pouring nickels and quarters down Music the throats of always hungry machines.

The roulette table sees an occasional gambler, but the blackjack tables — marred by cigarette burns and beer stains — get plenty of action at minimum $1, $2 and $5 bets.

“You can’t win no money here,” said 38-year-old Ace, who has frequented the Western since 1995, the same year he said he “pulled this a job” in Reno, and had to get out of town “real Rock, quick.”

In the early morning weekend hours, the smoke hangs in the air like a veil, a giant gray cloud that wraps itself around the customers. The booze is working its sleepy magic.

Gritty Western casino survives in ‘the underbelly’ of Las Vegas

Seriously, this deserves better than a daily newspaper–I could definitely see it expanded in the New Yorker. This is about breeding a thousand times better than most of the casino stories running today. Click through and read the entire story–you will be glad you did.

For some visuals, I have a photo I took of the area around the Western a while ago:
East Fremont
It isn’t much, but you get the idea.
This is the Vegas that you won’t see on reality TV, but these stories are just as important as those of high rollers, vacationing frat boys, and ambitious executives.

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