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year ago, is down by 3,000 "dates."

The legal prostitution industry in Nevada is on its back. So say brothel owners, their employees and customers.

"We are watching very carefully," said Flint, who worried his association political action fund will lack the money to mount a vigorous defense.

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White Converse High Tops Leather

White Converse High Tops Leather

White Converse High Tops Leather

Not all brothels are suffering equally.

Neidorf regularly has to drive the desolate wastes between Deep Springs, Nev., and Las Vegas.

Courtesy ABC News

"Substitute service is being offered," Flint said.

Brothel experts say additional factors explain their industry slump. The Internet now makes it easy for illegal, freelance prostitutes to hook up with customers, circumventing legal brothels.

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George Flint, who somehow manages to be both a retired minister and the brothel industry lobbyist (hey, it 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. In as much as they depend on discretionary spending, there not a lot of that to go around."

Hard times for Nevada's legal brothels

On a lighter note, he quipped, "I have said for years, tongue in cheek, that I not sure brothels qualify as live entertainment."

Hof told the Legal Post that his Nevada operations, even without a tax on live entertainment, are already paying $500,000 in taxes, making him the biggest taxpayer in his county.

Meanwhile, a new threat looms on the horizon: higher taxation. To date, brothels have not been subject to Nevada 8 percent tax on live entertainment. But bills introduced in the state last legislative session would change that.

David Neidorf, president of Deep Springs College, questioned how bad off the brothel industry really is at least in his corner of the state, 200 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

"I used to have $70,000 a year for political action," he said. "Now, I don know how much longer the state legislature will feel they owe us anymore."

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White Converse High Tops Leather

"Small mom and pop operations with three or four girls" are suffering the worst, said Flint.

the downturn as a chance to expand by buying up struggling competitors.

(Deep Springs College student body of 26 men occupy and run a cattle ranch the size of New York Manhattan island. All 26 have the academic credentials to have gotten into Harvard, Yale or Stanford. Why they attending a cattle college in the middle of nowhere is the subject for another story.)

Dennis Hof, who owns the Moonlight Bunny Ranch outside Carson City, Nev., told Bloomberg that the recession has allowed him to buy five White Converse High Tops Leather more brothels, bringing his total to seven.

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Back then, he said, two of the four, the Cottontail and Angel Ladies, were closed, and the other two, Shady Lady and Nevada Joe were just hanging on.

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 Converse Dainty Black Glitter

analysis by Bloomberg, the state economic health has declined 46 percent since the last quarter of 2007 the second worst decline after New Mexico.

"The concept that sex will always sell probably is not a true concept," said the lobbyist. "It not that there any less interest in sex; it just that people don have the dollars to spend."

Hard times beget consolidation, and at least one big, deep pocketed operator is using Converse Womens White Hi Tops

When the economy comes back, Bloomberg quoted him as saying, "I think I going to do real well."

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White Converse High Tops Leather

In addition, he said, the price of diesel fuel is up. That means truckers among brothels most reliable customers have less to spend.

Trucker Calls Cops to Bust Underage Prostitution

By law, sparsely populated parts of Nevada, which is to say most of the state, can decide on a county by county basis whether they want to permit legal prostitution. Ten out of 17 counties have decided that they do.

In June, Hof told the Legal Post of Canada that he was even considering expanding into Canada. Barring legal setbacks, he told the paper, "The Bunny Ranch will be there, and we be there in force."

Nevada has recovered more slowly from the recession than almost any other state. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Nevada, as of July, had the nation highest rate of unemployment 9.5 percent, versus a national average of 7.4. According to an Converse Neon Green

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