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Las Vegas as a medical, financial center?

Nothing induces clarity like a good night‘€™s sleep.

Or maybe it was the peace and quiet after the weekend guests left. Maybe it was a few extra hours at the computer trying to master — or at least handle — our new editing software. Certainly a couple of provocative stories in this edition helped.

In any case, I‘ve found some high ground and taken a look across Las Vegas. From this vantage point, the shortcomings of the schools, the rash of pedestrian fatalities and the crime statistics all recede.

What’s left is a pretty picture, full of hope and reasons to believe prosperity is around the corner; unless somebody drives the U.S. economy into the ditch again.

Today‘s cover stories are data points supporting that view.

While it‘€™s hard to envision Las Vegas as a destination stop for medical tourists today, the picture should be quite different before the decade ends. UNLV’s medical school will be starting to send doctors into the community. Union Village will have a new hospital in operation and be well along in building out the ambitious vision.

As Union Village co-founder Craig Johnson points out, Las Vegas has all the amenities needed to become a wonderful one-stop experience for medical tourism.

The challenge appears to be twofold: We need to develop a recognizable field of excellence, and we need to shake the stigma of that old line about the best medical care involving a trip to McCarran.

Miami and Houston have done well with medical tourism, based in part on being the closest major medical center for Central and South American patients. Phoenix has a bit of a jump on us, both in mileage and in development of a medical tourism model. Los Angeles seems the natural center for cosmetic surgery.

Maybe the folks who brought us "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" can go to work on a slogan for liver or gall bladder surgery. Then again, I can see the TV spots now proclaiming Vegas as the global prostate center. (Insert your own punch line here.)

If you can get that image out of your mind, we can move on to the potential impacts of the state‘€™s new gaming laws.

One sets Las Vegas up to be the back shop for whatever states eventually embrace sports betting. And that seems like a runaway train. Once the nation makes the logical leap that fantasy sports are acceptable, classic sports betting can’t be far behind. And building the legal infrastructure to support what the lawyers call "risk management" here is smart business.

And that brings us to Senate Bill 443, which sets in motion the seemingly limitless bounty that can be business entity betting. Short-term, it looks like a great opportunity for the area’s many sports handicappers to go into a potentially lucrative new field. Instead of selling advice, they can sell action. Longer term, the possibility exists for Las Vegas to develop as a major financial center as the lines between sports betting and stock investing blur.

The analogy used by the forces behind the bill is of a mutual fund model. First, that probably means a new sector of professional services for lawyers. They write the laws; they stand at the front of the line. But right behind them are a host of brokers and traders and analysts.

So from my rosy high ground, I can see a day when downtown takes on a Wall Street vibe and Henderson becomes the fun alternative to Rochester, Minn.

Now that‘s economic diversification with the kind of unique spin, OK, maybe twist is a better word,€” for which Las Vegas has become world-famous. And we can party all the way to the bank.

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