Hard-pressed Yanks are staying away in droves from Las Vegas’s casinos, a new report shows.

While gambling has always been thought to be recession-proof, ordinary punters — hit by the soaring cost of home loans and petrol at nearly £3 a gallon — have voted with their feet and this summer has seen Vegas suffering its slowest summer season on record. Things have been made worse by a boom-time frenzy of grand expansion plans and private-equity buyouts which has left even big-name casinos with mountainsof debt.

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And it’s not just casinos who are feeling the pressure. While known as the world’s gambling capital, Las Vegas relies heavily on happy holidaymakers spending their dosh in luxury boutiques and expensive restaurants to top up the city coffers. Now even airlines are cutting flights to the Nevada hotspot and US bankruptcy experts say they are getting more calls from casinos than they have in years.

Hardest hit are the casinos catering to the local population of southern Nevada which boomed as workers moved there for casino jobs. The report in today’s Wall Street Journal says those cus tomers are cutting back on cut-price jauntsto Vegas in order to make ends meet at home.

America’s gambling industry has survived bad times before but the credit crunch coupled with changing spending patterns, has created a dangerous situation for Las Vegas. Experts say only a change in US law in 2006 which effectively banned online casinos has prevented the slump from being much deeper.


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