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The owner of the Tropicana Casino in Las Vegas is filing for bankruptcy protection. A casino out of money. Tropicana Entertainment made the move after losing its license to operate a sister casino in Atlantic City late last year. As NPR's Scott Horsley reports, the gambling industry as a whole is looking down on its luck.
SCOTT HORSLEY: Tropicana's owner placed a big bet two years ago when he bought the casino company for about $2 billion. When he later tried to slash expenses in Atlantic City, New Jersey regulators cried foul and stripped the company of its license to operate there.
Tropicana is not the only casino company that's been dealt a bad hand. Companies like Wynn Resorts and MGM Mirage have seen their stock prices fall sharply since November, and overall gaming revenue in Nevada has been down in three of the last four months.
Professor WILLIAM EADINGTON (University of Nevada): There's quite a bit of concern that this is not a typical, you know, soft recession for the gaming industry.
HORSLEY: Economist William Eadington studies gambling at the University of Nevada in Reno. He says high oil prices are making it more expensive to drive or fly to gambling meccas. And rising grocery and mortgage bills mean people have less money to gamble.
Professor EADINGTON: People on fixed incomes in particular do not have the kind of discretion that they may have had in the past.
HORSLEY: Eadington also points to smoking bans in Colorado and Illinois, and a partial ban in Atlantic City, as drags on the industry. Many gamblers like to smoke, and if they can't do it at a casino, some of them just stay home.
Scott Horsley, NPR News.
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