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by Joe Pane

Joe Pane is a skilled advantage blackjack player and an experienced tournament player who has won over a million dollars in blackjack tournaments. Joe has continued his overall tournament accomplishments with a recent 2nd place finish in the Las Vegas Hilton $100,000 Dice Tournament, and his multiple recent cashes in poker tournaments in the 2009 Wildhorse Resort and Casino Spring Poker Round Up held in Pendleton, Oregon, and also at Binions and Treasure Island in Las Vegas. He recently finished second and won $10,000 in a craps tournament in Biloxi, and he hosts the "House of Pane" message board on His peers consider him to be one of the strongest and most feared blackjack tournament players on the circuit.

As we close out the first decade of the 2000’s, we realize that ideas that were hatched in the early part of the decade and looked like sure winners that would float above and beyond anyone’s expectations may, in fact, really become a lead balloon that will never get off the ground at the close of the decade.

You see when 1999 turned into 2000, the casinos were booming with players and their only concern in the casino capital of the world (i.e., Las Vegas) was whether or not they would run out of land to keep building these gorgeous, breathtaking Five-Star hotels that had a spectacular casino attached to them. Back then, it seemed like there could never be enough hotel rooms and gaming tables to meet the demands of the adults who made Las Vegas their adult playground where anything goes, and real money was gambled and spent like it was Monopoly money. Six thousand people per month were moving here, and the number of tourists who came to let their hair down and leave their money behind was endless.

However, something happened as we approached the end of the 201st decade. Banks were shutting down, and houses were going into foreclosure at a rate like never seen before. General Motors, along with Ford and Chrysler, were pleading for relief to our government in Washington to stay in business. Major independent companies, commonly known as blue chip companies, were on the verge of a complete collapse. Our country’s economy was in turmoil, and this time around the future development of Las Vegas was not exempt from the fallout.

When the first plans of the CityCenter project were placed on canvas back in 2004, the initial analysis was that this would be the biggest (76 acres) and most expensive ($8.5 billion) mixed use urban complex ever to be undertaken anywhere in the world. The big price tag for this project was of no concern back in 2004 because everyone assumed that there would be enough capacity for another few thousand hotel rooms and a multi-billion dollar project of this size because "Las Vegas always does things in a big way."

How wrong could they have been: half way through the project...

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