Perhaps nothing better exemplifies the rise and fall of the virtual economy in the US like Las Vegas. The poster child for the service economy, it combines almost every sector of so-called "growth": recreation, hospitality, real estate, finance, marketing.
The party is now clearly over. After years of continuous expansion in gaming revenue and convention activity, this year is shaping up as a outright bust for America's desert kingdom.
To provide an idea of the amounts involved, gaming revenue in 2007 came to $10.9 billion and the economic impact of conventions to $8.5 billion. There were 39.2 million visitors staying a total of 44 million nights at an average room rate of $132/night.