Gambling on slot hoki Terrorism

As the beer took hold, wrapping its maternal hug around the main-line adrenaline of a winning 13-hour session, I stood up. I racked my chips, nodding good wishes at the 1am drunks who were just sitting down. I hated to leave them, but I had friends waiting on me. And I’d been sitting for so long that variance was bound to come in for the graveyard shift.
Joey Two-Hands was with me and had been working up a good bender for the better part of our sit. Seven hours ago he’d flopped two monsters and raked two pots full of confidence. Since then, he’d bled away his wins, rebought a couple of times, and drank the Luxor bar dry of Jack and Coke.
I cashed out and led Joey out of the Luxor and onto the slot hoki motorized walkway that led into the Excalibur. We laughed our way through the maze designed to keep us in the building, not looking anywhere but forward, anywhere but toward a Pai Gow table full of similarly drunk college buddies.
We escaped the Excalibur and didn’t look around. We focused on the steps that would lead us to the walkway to New York, New York. We hit the conditioned air again, sat down, and drank with our buddies for four hours. When Joey decided to bet a miniature breath mint for the dealer, we decided it was time to head back to the rooms.
I was in little condition to be the designated walker, but somebody had to. Somebody had to lead Joey out of peril and into a room at the MGM. We crossed the catwalk over Las Vegas Boulevard, never looking anywhere but forward, embracing the freedom of tunnel vision that only Las Vegas and New Orleans can provide.
When we reached the MGM, Joey looked at me and said, “I want to hit you. Can I hit you?”
Declining the offer, I led him to the elevator to one of the towers, never looking back over my shoulder, never once looking for anything suspicious.
We’d do it all again the next day, not realizing or caring that two video tapes with footage of both the Excalibur and MGM were sitting in a prosecutor’s lock box thousands of miles away.
***
The news broke this week in an exclusive story from the Associated Press. According to sources in the federal government, terrorist cells in Detroit and Spain were both found with video tapes of high-rise hotels in Vegas, specifically Excalibur, MGM Grand, and Bellagio. The federal officials allege that both Vegas city leaders and casino executives were asked to review the tapes, but most in the government and gaming community refused. The implication from the federal officials was that the folks in Vegas were afraid that if they saw the tapes, they would be forced to act, and any action or admission of the tapes could have an effect on the Vegas tourism industry. While the tapes seemed innocuous enough (in some cases, they looked like vacation videos), experts testified that the videos followed terrorist handbooks on how to disguise terror surveillance video.
Since the story broke, Mayor Oscar Goodman, law enforcement officials, and gaming executives have all denied the allegations. MGM officials concede that they saw the tapes and they’ve been working behind the scenes with security personnel.
While the key federal source in the story seems credible, we’re instructed to not forget that he is currently under investigation for prosecutorial misconduct in a Detroit terror case.
All of these facts or fact-variations leave the casual reader and Vegas tourist in an awkward position.
First, you want to believe that anyone who has solid knowledge of any sort of terror threat would broadcast it to the public at large and let the public decide for itself how to react.
However, at the same time, one could easily believe that Las Vegas officials didn’t see any clear and present danger in the tapes, and as such, didn’t see any reason to alarm the public, and by extension, hurt the city’s bottom line.
***
Since September 11th, 2001, I have stayed at a nice hotel in Midtown Manhattan. I had a drink with my wife on top of the Sears tower in Chicago. I played poker at Bellagio. I slept in the MGM Grand. I was propositioned by hookers in the Excalibur.
It’s been a good three years.
About three weeks after the terror attacks on New York and Washington D.C., I stopped watching TV on any regular basis. I used to be an avid 24-hour news watcher. After the attacks, I couldn’t stand it anymore. I started to get most of my news from online sites.
Since that time, I haven’t allowed myself to be afraid of terror. I’ve tackled New York, Chicago, the Caribbean, Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and Dulles International. The only time I felt any nerves at all was when our plane left D.C. and doubled back toward the city after only ten minutes in flight. Smoke in the cockpit forced an overnight stay in D.C. and one less night in A.C. That was the biggest calamity I’ve faced in three years of America’s fight against terror.
Now, I’m being told that one of my favorite vacation spots in the country may or may not be a terrorist target. The leaders of that city may or may not have hid relevant information about such terror potential.