Nevada casinos water down booze bill
CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) – Major Nevada casinos agreed Thursday to water down a bill that would have enabled them to truck booze from one end of the state to the other, bypassing wholesalers who now handle such shipments.
The broad authority in AB669 was cut so that only liquor shipments among affiliated casinos within a specific marketing area would be permitted, casino lobbyists told the Assembly Ways and Means Committee.
For example, gambling giants such as Park Place, Harrah’s and Mandalay Resort Group, with numerous resorts around Nevada, could shift booze among their Las Vegas properties – but not to affiliates in the Reno or Tahoe areas.
Also stripped from AB669, just introduced on Saturday, was a section that would have drawn the state Taxation Department into disputes between liquor wholesalers and retailers, including the affiliated casinos.
Taxation Director Dave Pursell said that section would have meant an added workload, and the need for a new agency staffer at a cost of about $90,000 over the next two years. The bill only provided $20,000 – and with the amendment even that is gone now.
Pursell also confirmed that his agency and the Nevada Tax Commission, which sets the agency’s policies, didn’t ask for AB669.
The bill is being pushed by lobbyists Morgan Baumgartner and Steve Horsford, representing the Nevada Resort Association.
AB669 is based on a bill draft request filed May 14, about a week after the Taxation Department ended a hearing process that had focused in part on getting the agency to resolve retailer-wholesaler disputes.
That hearing process also had included discussion of possible penalties for violations of laws governing the liquor industry. Penalties of up to $1,000 are included in AB669, but with the amendments the penalties now will apply only to casinos that overstep their new liquor-shipping authority.
The now-deleted provision that would have allowed liquor shipments throughout Nevada had drawn concern that it could have helped certain wholesalers with a limited number of liquor brands at one end of the state but a full selection at the other.
The liquor selection at one end typically would be limited because a competitor controls the other brands – but the wholesaler could have gotten around that by selling to a casino in its full-selection area that in turn could ship to an affiliate in the wholesaler’s limited-selection area.
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