Nevada’s Regulated Brothels


Scott Cunningham, Manisha Shah (Eds.)

Document Type

Book Section

Publication Date


Publication Title

Oxford Handbook of the Economics of Prostitution


Oxford University Press

Publisher Location

New York, NY

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This chapter examines how brothels are regulated in Nevada. More specifically, it looks at how local municipalities in Nevada—the only US state that has legalized prostitution—regulate prostitution markets. It begins with an overview of Nevada’s legal indoor prostitution, the history and development of legal brothels, and brothel laws and regulations. It then considers how sex workers in Nevada brothels are regulated, the present state of brothel organization and market, and rural and suburban brothels. It also discusses how the legal system functions to regulate worker health and safety in Nevada brothels. The chapter argues that Nevada’s brothels are not some aberrant form of organized deviance but rather are part and parcel of today’s neoliberal consumer economy. The political climate that has allowed and sustains legal brothels in Nevada reflects contemporary neoliberal politics and a “morality” in which personal consumer choice is elevated to a moral right.

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