There is no more dazzling sight for the visitor, flying through the desert night to McCarran airport, than the cluster of lights across Las Vegas, highlighted by the blazing pinpoint of neon, visible even at noon, from the crossroads downtown.
The trouble for British visitors is that this final hop usually comes at the end of an exhausting 11-hour transatlantic flight. To fly direct (from Luton, refuelling in Maine) offers the chance of arriving better prepared to meet the three handicaps gamblers need to overcome: jet lag, change of climate, and impatience.
Vegas continues to thrive no matter what the American economy is doing. "The Las Vegas market should renew its acceleration around mid-1996," according to a recent report by stock- brokers Bear, Stearns. A new wave of "entertainment superstores" is foreseen, picking up the fluorescent trail set by mega-resorts such as the Luxor, Treasure Island and MGM-Grand. (The last, however, has experienced growing pains, partly owing to its lacklustre theme park.) MGM's opening of its new "Monte Carlo" (how do they find these names?) with over 3,000 rooms, is set for summer 1996, in partnership with Mirage Resorts, which also has plans for developing "Bellagio" on the former Dunes site. This last property has been scaled down, alas, from 49 storeys to a mere 37.
All this new casino-hotel building means cheaper rooms and better deals for the punters. Las Vegas claims to offer the best value of any major resort on earth - provided you don't gamble too much. Air Tours charter flights' brochure is available on 01706 260 000.