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Researcher: Gambling industry to trail US recovery

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 10, 2012 at 1:38 pm •  Published: December 10, 2012

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The gambling industry is bouncing back more slowly than the rest of the U.S. economy, according to the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Stephen Brown, director of the center, told business leaders Monday at an economic conference in Las Vegas that southern Nevada's economy is entering its third year of modest recovery.

He said the number of visitors to Las Vegas remains lower than it was before the recession, but said it may soon eclipse the high water mark set in 2007.

He added that the once-booming commercial construction industry has not yet begun to turn around.

"We're looking at very little growth in hotel and motel rooms," he said. "There aren't really any projects that are on the books."

The recession has changed the profile of the tourists visiting the area. Las Vegas is luring fewer long-distance travelers and seeing more road-trippers, even as gas prices have soared.

"We're seeing a shift toward people driving in from California as that economy has recovered," Brown said.

Visitors to Las Vegas are generally staying longer and paying more for hotels. But they are also gambling less and staying away from retail shops.

The downturn is forcing the region to diversify. Before 2007, the construction, tourism, gambling and hospitality industries crowded out other sectors, Brown said. As those industries have tumbled, they have freed up resources for use in other areas.

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