Reno casinos prepare for worst
RENO – A new study says Indian casinos in California could cost Nevada millions of dollars in tax revenue and thousands of jobs.
The study by Applied Economics estimates Nevada could lose $24 million to $43 million a year in revenues and up to 16,000 jobs.
The Arizona economic analysis firm was hired by the Reno Redevelopment Agency to evaluate the effect of planned casinos along Interstate 80 and U.S. 50 in California.
To remain competitive in the tourism market, Reno officials are trying to promote the region’s skiing and other recreational attractions, renovate its downtown core along the Truckee River and bolster the city’s convention facilities.
Reno Assistant City Manager Donna Kristaponis said the latest report confirms what the city already knows – that Reno needs to begin planning for the loss of taxes, fees and jobs.
”Absolutely, we can’t do nothing,” Kristaponis told a Reno newspaper.
She said Applied Economics also will be hired to evaluate whether a proposed events center and a retail/entertainment complex downtown would curb the tax losses.
Ferenc Szony, president of the Sands Regency hotel-casino, cautioned the new study is based solely on speculation because no big Indian casino has been built close enough to offer significant competition to Reno.
By the time that happens, Szony said the Reno area would have made inroads in selling Reno-Tahoe as a national destination.
While several big casinos are being built in Southern California at a cost of $80 million to $100 million each, none are under construction between San Francisco and Reno, said Don McGhie, a Reno gambling consultant.
The California energy crisis is the biggest, immediate threat to local tourism, and McGhie warned it could worsen. If so, he said that could roll into the opening of bigger Indian casinos in California in three to four years. But then again, McGhie said the tribes have to raise the money for their projects.
”The Indians are having trouble getting financing. It’ still hard to tell how much impact they are going to have,” he said.
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