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LEAVING LAS VEGAS

The American capital of gaming and entertainment is straining under a financial crisis spurred by last week's terrorist attacks. Blackjack tables have emptied out and many slot machines have fallen silent.

At a time when few Americans are in the mood for travel, celebration or self-indulgent entertainment, Las Vegas is rapidly finding itself without a market to sustain its tourist-reliant industry.

Among the troubling signs:

More than 50,000 conventioneers have canceled or postponed events this past week alone, a $61.3 million hit in non-gaming revenue, according to figures released Wednesday by the Las Vegas Visitors and Convention Authority. Last year, the city drew 11 percent of its estimated 36 million visitors from conventions.

With a little more than half of the 75,000 rooms on the Strip empty, hotels were forced to slash room rates. Normally, weekend visitors fill about 94 percent of the city's 126,083 hotel rooms.

Hotel vacancies could translate into layoffs.

"We've seen this before in times of crisis, business drops off. The larger question is how long will last and how deep will it go?" said Alan Feldman, spokesman for MGM Mirage, which is considering cutting hours for some of its 45,000 workers.

The self-proclaimed "marriage capital of the world" that averages more than 300 weddings a day saw license applications immediately drop about 40 percent last week.

"We're all shook up," said Cathy Carlson, a wedding planner who lost half her 10 daily bookings last week at the Elvis-themed Graceland Wedding Chapel. "First it was people who couldn't get here. Now it's people who are afraid to fly."

Associated Press reporter Lisa Snedeker contributed to this story

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