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Ohio


Vegas vs. Cleveland: The tally may surprise you
Commentator Paul Gaston give the odds on which is likely to entertain you the most
by WKSU's PAUL GASTON


Commentator
Paul Gaston
 
Cleveland's skyline isn't as brightly lit as Vegas, but the overall equation may just tip Cleveland's way.
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In The Region:

Cleveland’s Horseshoe Casino will now be served by express bus service from 10 Northeast Ohio cities. That’s another reminder that the casino is making good on its promise to attract players who once had to travel to Michigan, Ontario, New York and West Virginia. 

But even so, it’s easy to assume that serious aficionados will continue to prefer gambling’s capital city, Las Vegas. Given the choice, why would anyone prefer businesslike downtown Cleveland to the brilliance of a city focused on dazzling? Commentator Paul Gaston returned recently from a business trip to Las Vegas, and he thinks the competition may not be all that one-sided.

 

Gaston says Cleveland is the odds-on favorite

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             Las Vegas has a lot to offer. A wide range of accommodation, much of it quite reasonable on the assumption that you will wager downstairs in the hotel casino. World-class restaurants on every corner, an extraordinary variety of shows and entertainments, high-end shopping that rivals Rodeo Drive, and, above all, the lure of the betting. From high-stakes poker games in hushed enclaves to penny slots chiming away in cavernous main rooms to  sports arenas, where you can wager on the event of your choice, there’s something for you any time of day.

            So, for the really serious fun-seeker, Las Vegas would seem to have the advantage over Cleveland, hands down. Even to compare the two seems far-fetched. Right? Well, I thought so before my most recent trip to Las Vegas. Now I’m not so sure.

In fact, even though I’m not a player myself, I can imagine that many who thrive on games of chance, might find Cleveland the better choice.

            First, to visit Las Vegas (and, by the way, only regulars are entitled to call it “Vegas”) is to be reminded of what life was like before we became serious about second-hand smoke. You notice the smell the moment you step into your hotel – even in no-smoking rooms.. Despite impressive investments in air filtering equipment, the casinos themselves are thick with smoke, and in order to reach much of what Las Vegas has to offer—the dining, the shopping, the shows—you have to walk through the casinos. A no-smoking casino? Score one for Cleveland.

            Something else Cleveland does not have is the steady Las Vegas diet of sleazy come-on’s: the billboards along Las Vegas Boulevard promising that barely legal girls will appear in your hotel room if you call the advertised number. The hoards of hawkers snapping business cards offering the personal services of escorts. In this atmosphere, even what is probably meant as friendly “sin city” teasing takes on a shadow. When I checked in,  I asked  for a single room key. “Why not take two?” the clerk winked. “You might meet someone.”

Downtown Cleveland can’t match the glitz of Las Vegas, but it does not try to compete with Las Vegas for sleaze. Thank goodness. Another point for Cleveland.

            And there’s the environment.

Cleveland has a legitimate reason for being: our lake, our rivers, our pivotal location between New York and Chicago. Winters can be chilly, but we can put on parkas. Las Vegas, which rises from an inhospitable desert plain, must bring in water and electricity to survive. If either should ever run short, Las Vegas will be in a heap of trouble. You might have a different response in January, but mid-day in late September, as you struggle across Las Vegas Boulevard in the broiling sun, you might agree that when it comes to the environment, Cleveland scores another point.

            Unfair comparison? What about the shows? The restaurants? The shopping? I would not give away too much even in this category. We offer Playhouse Square, as compact and diversified an entertainment experience as Caesar’s Palace, the Bellagio, and the Flamingo combined. Many of our leading restaurants are the real thing, true originals, not shopping mall knock-off’s of big name restaurants from other cities. And in all honesty there are very few shops along the strip that can’t be found in Beachwood Mall or Legacy Village We can call this one a draw, if you wish, but remember that there’s nothing in Las Vegas like our art museum, our major league teams, our world-class orchestra. Once you’ve had enough gaming for the day, if you’re seeking entertainment or fine dining or shopping or culture at reasonable prices, I’d still give the edge to Cleveland.

            I’m not a player. So I can’t compare the thrills of gambling in Las Vegas with those offered by the casino in downtown Cleveland. But I have friends in other parts of the country who travel to Las Vegas regularly. I think I’ll tell them, next time, try Cleveland. And if there’s a long silence, I’ll say, go to wksu.org. There’s a commentary you should hear.

Listener Comments:

Hurray!!! Finally a sensible and thoughtful comment on the wonderful advantages we have living here in Cleveland! All points are valid and true but I would certainly highlight the Cleveland Art Museum (and the recently opened spectacular atrium) and the Cleveland Orchestra (and its world class reputation) as unparalleled! Also so true that the restaurants are not from a chain and are excellent. GO CLEVELAND! By the way, how about the newly opened MOCA!


Posted by: Bernie (Willoughby) on October 16, 2012 2:10AM
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