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Nevada could pool gaming efforts with Indian casinos

If Proposition 1A is passed, Nevada casinos likely will be forced to step up marketing efforts and many will go into business with California Indian casinos.

“There is definitely an unlevel playing field with no regulation and no taxation on the Indian casinos,” Nevada Sen. Harry Reid said. “We’re just going to have to work a little harder to sell ourselves. You can build all the casinos you want, but none can compete with what we have here at Lake Tahoe. It’s the most beautiful place in the world.”

Stephen Ascuaga, senior vice president of administration for John Ascuaga’s Nugget, agreed.



“(Proposition 1A) will be a definite impact to Reno, but it’s one that we can survive,” he said. “In the long run, Reno is a major destination that is still going to be competitive. We feel comfortable that we will remain strong.”

If anything, Ascuaga added, that the potential threat of Indian casinos will force Reno to provide a better product and increase competition in promoting the Reno-Tahoe area.



“We try to bring people in for more than just gambling – the ski, golf and convention markets,” Ascuaga said. “We try to stay diversified.”

Although Nevada casinos previously have been opposed to Indian casinos, Leo McElroy, campaign consultant for Republican Assemblyman Bruce Thompson, who opposes the proposition, said some of Nevada’s biggest gaming institutions have teamed with the reservations, largely because revenues cannot be taxed by the government.

“If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, and that’s exactly what the large casinos have done,” McElroy said. “This is pure hardcore gambling for the addicts who can’t drive three hours to Reno.”

Some of the large gambling institutions jumping on the Indian bandwagon include Stations Casinos, Inc., Mirage and Anchor Gaming.

Stations Casinos is joining forces with the United Auburn Indian Tribe in the construction of a 200,000-square-foot casino located off Interstate 80. According to tribe spokesman Douglas Elmets, the $100 million casino will complement the area of the Sierra foothills sans the flashy lights of a typical club.

“It will clearly be a boon to the local economy,” Elmets said. “We will be hiring about 1,200 employees who do not belong to the tribe.”

As to whether the Indian casino will dry up the market in Reno, Elmets didn’t think so.

“Reno and Las Vegas are unique,” he said. “Nothing will ever replace the entertainment level there, especially since some people like to gamble in multiple casinos. But Indian gaming is a niche market and meets the needs of a specific area for those who do not want to drive.”

Stations Casino declined comment.

In negotiations with the Rincon San Luiseno Band of Mission Indians near San Diego, Harrah’s, Inc. is also planning to build and manage a $110 million casino on tribal land.

“This is a new geographic area for us and our first partnership in California,” said Gary Thompson, spokesman for Harrah’s, Inc. “Why throw good money after bad when California has such enormous market potential?”

Thompson said the casino will be a first-class facility with all the amenities of its Nevada counterparts.

By bringing all the glitz and glamour to California, Thompson is confident it will not have a long-term effect on the casinos on the Las Vegas strip.

“When gaming expanded into other states it just created new players that at some point wanted to come and try out Las Vegas,” Thompson said. “Initially there will be some impact to Reno and Vegas but I think ultimately Nevada, especially Vegas, is the mecca.”

Since Harrah’s is a publicly held corporation, Thompson said the company will be subject to some form of taxation, although the reservation land is exempt from state and federal taxes. If all goes according to plan, Harrah’s would like to open the new casino within a year, Thompson said.

Pete Korner, operations manager for Las Vegas Sports Consultants, said the Nevada gaming industry has felt the pinch of casinos in other states and Internet gambling, but he doesn’t foresee a huge decline in people flocking to Reno and Vegas.

“It’s just not the same feel as coming to a whole city filled with casinos,” Korner said.

Stuff I chopped:

The issue of gambling on Indian reservations is once again on the political forefront with the proposal of Proposition 1A: Gambling on Tribal Lands.

The proposition would amend the state constitution to allow slot machines, lottery games and unlimited card games at all Indian casinos.

Proposition 1A stems from the overturning of Proposition 5, which amended state law and not the constitution. It allowed Indian tribes unlimited gambling on card games, slot machines, lotteries, craps and horse racing by entering into a specific compact with the state.

“Indian gaming has resulted in Indian self-sufficiency by taking our people off of welfare and improving our education system,” said Waltona Manion, communications director for “Yes on Proposition 1A.”

But for Republican Assemblyman Bruce Thompson, being self-reliant isn’t the issue at hand. It’s the transformation of California into a major gambling state.

“This has nothing to do about Indian self-reliance but everything to do about gambling,” said Leo McElroy, campaign consultant for Thompson. “It will turn loose a massive amount of gambling and turn us into Nevada West. We would be Las Vegas by the sea.”

If this proposition passes, McElroy continued, there would be 113,000 slot machines in California, which would then place it second only to Nevada in the number of slot machines in the U.S.

Opponents of the proposition argue state and local levels of government would not be able to generate revenues from Indian casinos since there is no way to directly tax them.

California will become a

Republican Assemblyman Bruce Thompson self reliance for Indians isn’t the key issue behind Proposition 1A. It’s the transformation of California into a major gambling state.

“This has nothing to do about Indian self-reliance but everything to do about gambling,” said Leo McElroy, campaign consultant for Thompson. “It will turn loose a massive amount of gambling and turn us into Nevada West. We would be Las Vegas by the sea.”

Opponents of the proposition argue state and local levels of government would not be able to generate revenues from Indian casinos since there is no way to directly tax them.


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