Strip Tease

Maybe it’s no surprise that, even today, when it comes to matters regarding Las Vegas, Elvis still provides valuable insight. As casinos on the strip get ready to the roll the reopening dice, the lyrics sung by Presley’s character Lucky Jackson ring more true, and more ominously, than ever. Oh, there’s blackjack and poker and the roulette wheel / A fortune won and lost on every deal / All you need’s a strong heart and a nerve of steel. UNLV’s Robert Lang updates the lyrics (with decidedly less flair) to meet the moment: “Las Vegas can never be known as the place where people go and get sick.” (Think Viva Las Vegas with an emphasis on the Viva part.) The new Vegas will reemerge with sanitized dice, disinfected chips, hand sanitizer, touchless check-in, and at The Venetian, “Gondoliers stationed along the canal will serenade passengers from an appropriate distance.” What won’t visitors find? Buffets, poker, and a mask requirement for guests. Willing to take that bet? Las Vegas sure hopes so, because the city’s economy has been one of the hardest hit in the country. Yet, the risk of opening too early and taunting a virus that never bluffs is not theirs alone, because what happens in Vegas gets on a plane and goes home to communities around the world. So for now, I’m pausing Elvis, and playing Kenny Rogers instead: You’ve got to know when to hold ’em / Know when to fold ’em / Know when to walk away / And know when to run.

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