Bad results for Las Vegas Strip

Las Vegas Strip casino gambling revenue tumbled 23 percent in December, capping the worst annual decline on record, as the city enters the second year of the U.S. recession, reports the Bloombergs business news service.

Gambling proceeds in the biggest U.S. gaming centre slumped 10.6 percent to $6.12 billion last year, the steepest decline since data was first compiled in the mid-1980s. Last year was worse than 2001, when the September 11 terrorist attacks frightened travellers and led to a 2.1 percent drop, Frank Streshley, an analyst at Nevada's Gaming Control Board, told the news agency.

December's gambling proceeds of $474.2 million represent the Strip's 12th straight monthly decline.

The number of Las Vegas visitors is expected to fall 3 percent to 4 percent this year, Rossi Ralenkotter, chief executive officer of the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority, said earlier. Passenger flight capacity remains almost 15 percent less than a year ago, he said, as developers prepare to open more than 13 000 new hotel rooms in 2009.

"The marketplace is very, very volatile," Ralenkotter said. "Over the last 30 years, we've seen one or two of these challenges happening, but we've never collectively had this many parts of our economy and our lifestyle being impacted all at the same time."

Revenue for all casinos in Nevada retreated 19 percent to $888 million in December. Monthly proceeds for Clark County, which includes downtown Las Vegas as well as the Strip, fell 18 percent to $771.8 million. Total visitation slid 3.8 percent in the 11 months through November, to 34.7 million, the latest official LVCVA data show. Passenger traffic at Las Vegas's McCarran International Airport slid 7.7 percent to 44.1 million in 2008 from a year earlier, its second-biggest annual decline since data was first compiled in 1960, Clark County Department of Aviation figures show. The airport recorded its biggest annual passenger slump of 8.1 percent in 1981.

If you can afford to travel, now's the time to visit Vegas, according to figures released by Expedia Inc.'s Hotwire unit. Prices are declining faster now than they were after 2001, and there has been a collapse in demand just as hotel developers were entering a period of substantial overbuilding. 5-star Vegas hotel accommodation is available for under $100 a night through much of the spring.

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