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September 18, 2012

Prince Harry's naked escapades expose latest Las Vegas makeover

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Nude photos of Harry from his visit appeared on the Internet, causing an international scandal that had British reporters scouring the city for news, according to the Las Vegas Review Journal.

A spokeswoman for Buckingham Palace said the trip was a private holiday before the prince's return to military duty.

The Las Vegas Convention & Visitor Authority took out an ad in USA Today and distributed others through social media, poking fun at the scandal.

"Las Vegas is a place to celebrate adult freedom, freedom that even celebrities and royals can enjoy," Cathy Tull, the authority's senior vice president of marketing, said in a statement.

The average Las Vegas gambler's budget dropped to $447 last year from $652 in 2006, according to authority surveys. The number of visitors has increased 1.9 percent to 23.4 million this year through July. At the same time, gambling on the Strip has risen 3.2 percent to $3.62 billion. That includes a 28 percent rise in July sparked by volatile baccarat winnings.

Spending on shopping, eating and shows continues to grow in importance, contributing 62 percent of the Strip's $14.5 billion in revenue last year, up from 41 percent in 1984, according to the University of Nevada Las Vegas Center for Gaming Research. Resort owners are now tracking those expenditures, calculating how to ply patrons with free meals and other promotions, as they have for years with high-rollers.

"Some of these customers are small potatoes, but there are people who come in and never gamble and drop $20,000 in a weekend," said Roy Student, a Las Vegas-based casino consultant. "The casinos realize these are high revenue opportunities with a lot less risk."

MGM, the largest casino operator in Las Vegas, is spending $180 million remodeling hotel rooms and other amenities at its namesake resort. Night clubs and day clubs, their daytime poolside kin, have been setting revenue records at the company this year, according to James Murren, chairman and chief executive officer.

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