When Don Puzo moves in on Las Vegas, he's not striving for art but something like that emerges. LAS VEGAS is heavy with color photos by John Launois that are equal to neon, sometimes gimmicky (dice flying into the camera) and no whit personal; the many black-and-white photos, by Michael Abramson and Susan Fowler-Gallagher, try for sadder or richer insights while working under the handicap of NO CAMERA PERMITTED--Las Vegas protects anonymity, losers, and tax-dodgers. What will help the book move out of the stores and off the shelves are the many gems of storytelling with which Puzo studs his big picture and reveals the backgrounds of girls, personnel, and gamblers; and his myth-popping ironic tone should catch the public fancy. The text is both a natural history of the gambling instinct through the ages and a celebration of its great flowering in Nevada. Puzo himself is a "degenerate gambler" of great ripeness. He's cheated since childhood. Now that he really has some money to lose, he has abandoned gambling in fear of palpable ruin, knowing solidly that he will lose everything. But he believes Vegas operates honestly; the casinos are not armbreaking debt collectors; the town is kept clean in every possible way (no pimps, no streetwalkers). Even readers put off by Puzo's admiringly clear-eyed love for the meretricious will find themselves turning one page more.