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Vegas: Digging Out

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Welcome to Las Vegas Sign

Not much has been happening in Vegas over the last two years, meaning not much has been staying in Vegas.

That appears to be changing.

Or, at the very least, things are not getting worse.

Here are interviews I did this week heading into the important summer travel season.

Not on this blog, but elsewhere at CNBC.com, is the incredible interview I did with Wynn Resorts CEO Steve Wynn.

First, I spoke with the people who matter: tourists. You’ll hear from Jeremy Esclamado and Nina Savalvaro of San Francisco, who come to Vegas regularly, enticed by ever cheaper deals.

Then you’ll hear from Kris Cazer and Doug Morrow from Colorado, who haven’t been in a while and actually like things being a little slow.

The biggest company on the Strip is MGM Mirage , which owns the massive CityCenter development. CityCenter has gotten off to a rough start, with occupancy rates at Aria at only 63% last quarter.

MGM’s Alan Feldman says that is improving to the low 80s—through discounting. He also explains what’s behind the “baccarat boom” in Vegas.

Finally, he updates me on the fallout from a lawsuit between his company and CityCenter’s contractor, Perini.

One side effect, all work on the remaining building in the project, the Harmon Hotel, has ceased.

Steve Wynn told me he’s splitting his company’s headquarters between Las Vegas and Macau, as Asia is the future.

For Las Vegas Sands, profits in Macau quadrupled in the last quarter.

But Las Vegas Sands President and COO Michael Leven explains why Sands will not relocate headquarters outside the U.S.

He also updates me on the one metric which has yet to recover in Sin City: room rates.

Billionaire George Maloof moved to Las Vegas and opened up the Palms Resort off the Strip two months after the September 11th terrorist attacks.

Perhaps no one has proven more clearly that you can succeed during the worst of times.

But unlike 2001, when Maloof says he had a rough six months, the last year and a half “has just been sustained less business.”

He says things are starting to look up.

Well, at least on weekends.

Finally, Robin Leach moved to Las Vegas ten years ago, and he chronicles the ups and downs at Vegas Deluxe.

As only Leach can, he talks about how Vegas is trying to recover. He’s still angry at President Obama.

Questions? Comments? Funny Stories? Email funnybusiness@cnbc.com

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  • Based in Los Angeles, Jane Wells is a CNBC business news reporter and also writes the Funny Business blog for CNBC.com.

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