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Tourists may not take gamble to visit Las Vegas

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Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By The Associated Press
Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013, 8:12 p.m.
 

LAS VEGAS — Variously known as an adult playground and Disneyland for grown-ups, Las Vegas brands itself as a place where tourists can enjoy a sense of edginess with no real danger.

A series of high-profile episodes of violence amid throngs of tourists, however, is threatening Sin City's reputation as a padded room of a town where people can cut loose with no fear of consequences.

A car-to-car shooting and a resulting fiery crash killed two bystanders and an aspiring rapper on Thursday. The incident followed a bizarre elevator stabbing and a shooting in movie theater's parking lot.

Though crime has been falling on the glitzy stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard that houses most of the city's major casinos, tourism officials worry that vacationers and convention planners could begin to steer clear of the city because of a perception of mayhem.

“We are concerned because it can create misperceptions about the safety of the city, the safety of the Strip,” said Gary Thompson, spokesman for Caesars Entertainment, which owns 10 resorts in the tourist zone, including Caesars Palace and Paris Las Vegas.

Casinos are worried about convention business, which helps fill rooms and gambling tables between weekends. Corporate planners can swing the market with a few decisions, said Gordon Absher, spokesman for MGM Resorts International.

“And that decision will bring thousands of people,” he said.

MGM operates several major casino-hotels, including CityCenter, where Thursday's convulsion of violence originated.

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