UPPING THE ANTE: Topless/taxi war continues

  As the competition among Las Vegas’ topless cabarets increases and clubs scramble over a diminished pool of customer cash, operators have taken to increasing the amount of money they pay taxi drivers to divert – I mean deliver – patrons to the tassel parlors.

  One reliable industry source tells me one club, Rick’s Cabaret, has upped the ante to $80 per person delivered. Club personnel have yet to confirm it, but in recent weeks other clubs surpassed the $50 per-person kickback mark.

  “At $80, no one can make money even charging a $30 entry fee,” one source said.

  (Most cabbies kick back a large percentage of the fee they receive to Strip resort door personnel, who sprinkle the infield of this underground economy.)

  At last check, clubs such as the Olympic Garden -- now the "OG" -- were offering up to $50 per person, my source says.

  Here’s what’s going on behind the scenes: several clubs are on the sales block, and cabarets that would have gone for $25 million two years ago are on the market, I’m told, for $12 million and even less.

  Cheetah’s, venerable Galardi family holding, has been part of a sales negotiation for weeks.

  The controversial Crazy Horse Too, meanwhile, loses value every day and appears to have attracted no viable buyers in recent months.

  Call it street-corner speculation from a certified skeptic, but with pressures to earn ever increasing and the economy in the dumper the conditions are right for a real topless war in this town.