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July 12, 2002 09:40pm
Las Vegas Limits Lapdancers
Source: UK Reuters

(LAS VEGAS, NV) -- Las Vegas, a gambling mecca also known as Sin City, is taking a stand for it's infamous strip club performers - at least the ones who do lap dances.

A proposed ordinance would legalize lap dancing and then enact new regulations on the practice - despite the mayor's half-serious backing of the activity as a boon to business! One proposed restriction, for instance, would ban the common custom of tipping dancers by stuffing dollar bills in their G-strings.

The new law would prohibit any touching near the genital area and raise the minimum age for lap dancers to 21 from 18.

Clark County commissioner Yvonne Atkinson Gates, author of the proposal, said lap dancing is now illegal in the county, home to Las Vegas, but that the current law was vague and rarely enforced.

"What we're trying to do is do a better job of controlling it. According to our police department, there's a lot of prostitution in this kind of activity," she said.

Prostitution, though generally outlawed in Nevada, is legal in several locations close to Las Vegas.

The measure will be introduced before the Clark County commissioners as modified ordinance on Tuesday. A final version would then be subject to a public hearing on July 31, with approval possible in a vote immediately afterward.

Strip clubs are a hallmark of Las Vegas, second only to casinos in their association with a city once known for unabashed fast living and hedonism.

City promoters and casino operators tried to change that image in the early 1990s with a series of promotions and new attractions designed to appeal more to families.

But in a recent swing, many of those facilities have closed in the last few years -- most notably a theme park at the MGM Grand. In a nod to the past, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority launched an ad campaign last year drawing on the city's older image as a playground for adults.

Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman last year urged constituents to go out and have a lap dance as way to support local business, which had slumped with the travel industry after the September 11 hijacking attacks.

"He said it a little bit in jest, a little bit in fun and a little bit in seriousness," said spokeswoman Elaine Sanchez.

One of the city's biggest clubs, the Olympic Garden, expressed some reservations about the proposed changes but was largely supportive.

Club owner Peter Eliades said a prohibition on putting dollar bills in dancers' G-strings might dampen some patrons' enthusiasm.

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