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Odds Stacked in Casino Stocks' Favor

You've read the headlines. Las Vegas is dead. Casinos in that city and other parts of the U.S. are facing some of the worst slumps in their history.

But if you think today is a bad time to invest in casino stocks, you're wrong, says one veteran investor in the sector.

"Now is one of the best buying opportunities ever for casino stocks," says Larry Haverty, associate portfolio manager with Gabelli Global Multimedia Trust (GGT), a closed-end fund that has more than 13% of its holdings invested in the casino industry.

Specifically, today rates as the third-best buying opportunity in recent history -- behind the 1987 stock market crash and the 1991 start of the Gulf War, he says.

Haverty says there are numerous positive catalysts for the sector over the next six months, including falling oil prices and his bet that MGM Mirage (MGM) and Las Vegas Sands (LVS) will secure additional financing for their multibillion-dollar casino developments under way in Las Vegas and Asia.

Haverty's fund is down about 28% this year. Casino stocks have been dismal performers, as business is down in Las Vegas and other parts of the U.S., while competition in Macau is hurting margins.

Nonetheless, Haverty's dedication to the sector has not faded.

A simple reason to like the industry, he says: Most of the customers are addicted one way or another, and the government limits supply. "Those are good combinations. As the owner of the business, eventually you make money from those things," he says.

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