Now anyone can play the hotshot in Vegas

For those diehards bored with the $US750 ($706) tasting menu at Guy Savoy, the $US250 Elton John shows at Caesars or the $US200,000 single-hand baccarat bet at the Bellagio, Las Vegas is serving up a new way to find high-priced thrills.

Machine Guns Vegas - an upscale indoor shooting range complete with skimpily dressed, gun-toting hostesses - opened last week near the Strip, with an armory of weapons and a promise to fulfil the desires of anyone wanting to fire an Uzi or vintage Thompson sub-machinegun. With its provocative mix of violent fantasy (think blowing holes through an Osama bin Laden target with an AK-47) and sexual allure, it is the latest example of how the extravagances and excesses that have defined Las Vegas are moving beyond the gaming table.

''OK, the Uzi is down right now - sorry,'' Melissa Krause, a hostess dressed head to toe in a skintight outfit with a fake pistol attached to her hip and black boots, told a father and son who had driven three hours from Victorville, California. ''Is there something else you wanted to choose?''

No matter. Before long, the son, Chris Neveu, 20, was standing between two range masters, a man and a woman, feet planted on the floor, eyes protected by goggles and ears by headphones. Hot shells clattered about his feet as his father, Paul, took pictures.

In the main lounge, Barry Burmaster, 54, was giddy after he and three friends, in town for a convention, compared a stack of bullet-riddled targets.

''Twenty years ago, I'd spend $400 at the strip clubs,'' he said. ''Now, I just come here to shoot.''

This is certainly not the first shooting range here. Interest in guns is high in Nevada, particularly among tourists from countries that ban weapons. ''From England, from Japan,'' said Jasmine King, a former go-go dancer who now works as a hostess at Machine Guns Vegas.

''We want it to have a Melrose boutique feel to it,'' said Genghis Cohen, a managing partner of Machine Guns Vegas, referring to the stretch of quirky shops along Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles.

''This is our VIP area,'' he said. ''Look - a cappuccino machine, nice big leather couches. Let's say you're the vice-president of The Palazzo or The Wynn,'' he continued, referring to two of the city's fanciest resorts. ''You're like, 'Oh, it's lunch break. I'm going to grab a sandwich and go shoot my gun for half an hour.'''

For $US699, the top-of-the-line package, a client gets an array of 16 firearms, 1550 rounds of ammunition and a pass to the VIP lounge.

The New York Times