Conventional wisdom has long held that the “vice” industries are generally repression-proof. (Gambling revenue and booze consumption rose sharply after the stock market collapse of 1929, for example.) People may be broke and depressed, but they’ll still smoke, drink, gamble, and screw—perhaps with even more vigor than when they could afford to put their kids through college.
So, is America on the verge of turning into a nation of alcoholic, coke-sniffing, Marlboro-smoking blackjack players with a penchant for fake breasts and a willingness to pay for sex? If so, is it time to pad your portfolio with stock in Philip Morris and Vegas casinos?
We talked with experts from all of the major vice industries, from strip club owners to Wall Street drug dealers, to find out if it’s possible to parlay one man’s personal tragedy into another man’s financial gain. After some data crunching, we slapped a “buy” or “sell” label on each industry. Our careful analysis follows.