Vegas Mass Shooting Heightens Live Event Safety Concerns

By Jessica Brice and Christopher Palmeri | October 2, 2017

The shooting attack at a Las Vegas concert on Sunday night that killed at least 50 people is the latest in a series of massacres in recent years that are reshaping the live-events industry.

The attack by a solo gunman at an outdoor country-music concert on the Vegas Strip was reminiscent of a bombing in May at an Ariana Grande show in Manchester, England, and another tragedy less than two years prior, when gunmen opened fire at a rock concert in Paris. At least 400 other people were injured in Nevada after the suspect perched in a high-rise hotel room and opened a barrage of gunfire on the crowd below. He was later found dead.

Videos of the attack showed screaming concertgoers scrambling for cover as the clack-clack-clack of what sounded like an automatic weapon can be heard in the background. In the aftermath, events organizers will once again be forced to revisit a fundamental debate about how – or even if – they can keep concertgoers safe.

Besides concerns about the welfare of fans, the industry has significant financial interest at stake. The top 100 tours worldwide generated $4 billion to $5 billion a year in revenue from 2011 to 2016, according to Pollstar. Las Vegas depends on tourism as the linchpin of its economy, and the strip is a fabled thoroughfare flanked by flashy casinos and showrooms that have hosted the likes of Elvis Presley, Jennifer Lopez and Britney Spears.

Vulnerable in Vegas

The shooting underscores a vulnerability for Las Vegas, as the casino industry shifts from one largely dependent on slot machines and blackjack tables to becoming more of an all-around entertainment experience. MGM Resorts International has been a leader in this trend. The casino company opened the T-Mobile Arena for concerts and sporting events and redesigned the front of its New York-New York casino to make it more pedestrian friendly. The Route 91 Harvest festival, where Sunday’s shooting occurred, is among concerts MGM has hosted at a venue it operates along the Strip.

MGM fell 4.8 percent to $31.02 in New York trading Monday, the biggest intraday decline in three months. Las Vegas Sands Corp. and Wynn Resorts Ltd. also dropped.

Tourism to Las Vegas hit an all-time high of 42.9 million guests last year, a 1.5 percent increase from 2015, and it’s up less than 1 percent this year. The city can look to Orlando, Florida, the site last year of what is now the second-worst shooting in U.S. history. After a gunman killed 49 in a nightclub tourism to the city slowed. Hotel room bookings fell and theme-park operators offered discounts. Still, the city reported a 3 percent rise in tourism for the year to 68 million.

Jeremy Handel, a spokesman for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, said it was too soon to comment on the potential impact of the shooting to the tourism industry. A.G. Burnett, chairman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board, said his agency’s enforcement officers were working hand in hand with Las Vegas police to investigate the incident.

The Global Gaming Expo, a major casino-entertainment industry show known as G2E, was scheduled to begin Monday and run through Thursday. One panel Monday, scheduled before the mass shooting, focuses on security risks at nightclubs.

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