Nevada Brothels Hit Hard By Recession

Price list at brothelLuxury industries took a major hit during the recession, particularly the business of sin. Gambling revenues on the Las Vegas Strip plummeted 14 percent, and casino construction ground to a halt. And although the recession has technically ended, sex is still not selling so well.

The legal brothel industry in Nevada is ailing, the New York Daily News reports. With fewer customers, legal prostitutes are no longer so willing to hand over 50 percent of their pay to brothel owners, and many are striking out on their own. The rise in illegal prostitution has cut even further into the customer base of legal brothels, according to the director of the Nevada Brothel Association."When I started as the lobbyist for the industry in 1985, we had 37 brothels in the state," George Flint told the Daily News. "Now we have just 18, and 12 to 14 of them are not doing very well."

It's the old supply-and-demand story. During the recession, fewer pleasure-seekers came to town, and more women entered the business. "Instead of paying $400 for a room at a brothel, these guys can now go out and get the same service for a third of the money," said Flint.

More:Former McDonald's Worker's Strange, Sad Tale Of Prostitution

Vegas' recovery has proven painfully slow; unemployment in the Nevada capital was 9.8 percent in March, the latest month for which data is available, 30 percent higher than the national average.

"When the hotels fired a lot of their low-end workers, and they disappeared, well, then a lot of my low-end clients were gone, my $100 parties were gone," Susan Austin, who runs Mustang Ranch, the state's first legal brothel, told CNBC last year. "And then when a lot of my high rollers all of a sudden discovered they didn't have as much discretionary income ... that definitely dug into their wallets, which definitely affected us."

Nevada's black market has taken a battering too. Mid-price prostitutes (who charge between $600 and $700) were the main victims of the supply-demand crunch, the Las Vegas Sun reported back in 2008, as many of their customers turned to cheaper offerings.

Sex-for-hire, it turns out, is pretty vulnerable to swings in the economy. The only sin that actually appears recession-proof is drinking.

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