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Down But Not Out, Lebanon Casino and Cabarets Battle On

8 August 2006

JUNIEH, Lebanon -- As reported by the Agence France Presse: "...'The show must go on' has long been the motto of the Casino du Liban nestled on a hill on the tip of the Bay of Junieh, located in the Christian heartland north of Beirut.

"The opening hours, however, have been curtailed and it now closes at a modest 1:00 am, instead of the normal five in the morning. At dawn on Friday, an Israeli air strike gouged craters in a road bridge near the casino.

"'Everybody is feeling down. There is no life. You call this life?' said a cashier, pointing at a mostly empty room full of slot machines and flashing lights. 'Normally you can't walk through here, the crowd is so thick.'

"Only one out of three gaming rooms is operating, for aficionados of roulette and blackjack, with guests asked to hire a jacket and tie if they don't turn up in the proper attire.

"The private rooms are closed as 'the high rollers were the first to leave the country', the cashier explained. And the summer show, complete with dancing girls, has been called off.

"...Opened in 1959, the casino has kept going against the odds and operated more or less normally through most of the 1975-1990 civil war. But it was badly damaged and forced to close its doors during inter-Christian battles in 1989..."

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