You know we're in trouble when even the casinos are losing

The U.S. casino industry, long thought to be recession proof, is being roughed up by a perfect economic storm.

Gambling markets from coast to coast are facing increased competition that is eroding their bottom lines, while a cresting wave of state and local smoking bans is chasing a significant subclass of gamblers out the doors.

The broader leisure industry is likewise staggering in the economic downturn as consumers — more and more of them jobless — tighten their purse strings and hunker down at home as stock portfolios and home equity dwindle.

“There are fewer people going to casino these days for the same reason there are fewer people going to the movies or going out to dinner,” said Troy Stremming, a vice president at Ameristar Kansas City Casino and Hotel.

“People are not spending as much of their discretionary income on entertainment right now,” he said. “Everybody’s in the same boat.”

As one writer joked last week: “With a stock market like this, who needs gambling?”

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