The legal prostitution industry in Nevada is on its back. So say brothel owners, their employees and customers.Like Miley Cyrus...
George Flint, who somehow manages to be both a retired minister and the brothel industry's lobbyist (hey, it's Nevada) told ABC News that gross revenues are down 40 percent to 50 percent from what they were 10 years ago. The number of legal operators has shrunk from 37 to 19.
"Just like every other small business in the U.S.," said Flint, "brothels have been affected by the downturn in the economy. In as much as they depend on discretionary spending, there's not a lot of that to go around."
Brothel experts say additional factors explain their industry's slump. The Internet now makes it easy for illegal, freelance prostitutes to hook up with customers, circumventing legal brothels.
"Substitute service is being offered," Flint said.
In addition, he said, the price of diesel fuel is up. That means truckers -- among brothels' most reliable customers -- have less to spend."mom-and-pop operations" ... really? You'd think a lobbyist could come up with a better term for small establishments.
Not all brothels are suffering equally.
"Small mom-and-pop operations with three or four girls" are suffering the worst, said Flint.
But even the biggest operations are reporting sharp declines. The owner of the famous Mustang Ranch, said Flint, told him just the other day that his business, compared to a year ago, is down by 3,000 "dates."In gambling, that's called "betting on the come."
"The concept that sex will always sell probably is not a true concept," said the lobbyist. "It's not that there's any less interest in sex; it's just that people don't have the dollars to spend."
Hard times beget consolidation, and at least one big, deep-pocketed operator is using the downturn as a chance to expand by buying up struggling competitors.
Dennis Hof, who owns the Moonlight Bunny Ranch outside Carson City, Nev., told Bloomberg that the recession has allowed him to buy five more brothels, bringing his total to seven.
When the economy comes back, Bloomberg quoted him as saying, "I think I'm going to do real well."
Meanwhile, a new threat looms on the horizon: higher taxation. To date, brothels have not been subject to Nevada's 8 percent tax on live entertainment. But bills introduced in the state's last legislative session would change that.Combining a new tax on brothels with existing estate taxes means the tax man will get you coming and going...
|Idle brothel workers sit around and discuss the economy.|