chapter  5
40 Pages

The Las Vegas Casino, Theme Parks, and the General Trend of Theming

ByMark Gottdiener

The Las Vegas casino environment is a multidimensional system of signs. Both the built forms and the messages conveyed are highly developed and articulated as intentional symbols. Advertisements for Las Vegas casino-resorts develop these themes through elaborate signs, sculptures, and three-dimensional light-and-sound shows. Nearby Caesars is the Mirage Hotel and Casino, another place with a totally themed environment. The Las Vegas gambling economy is situated within structures that are combinations of a casino, a hotel, and often also a family-oriented resort. Every casino in the city and on the Strip possesses a distinct theme, some overarching code or ideology reflecting a desirable fantasy of American culture. The activity of casino-hopping has taken on a new cachet and relevance, as the built environment produces signification through thematic differences. Overseas tourism is invariably themed because hotels and resort complexes use decor and architecture to tie their environments symbolically, if not strictly superficially, to the local culture.