BY MARIE ANDRUSEWICZ -- Resort mogul Steve Wynn made a rare appearance in Carson City this week to preemptively discourage lawmakers who would consider adding to the tax burden of casinos.
“I think his argument is that gaming has suffered a lot since 2008 when the recession really hit the industry hard. There have been plenty of layoffs,” says political pundit Jon Ralston. “The number he says is $38 billion dollars, $38 billion dollars of value has been lost on the Strip in the last 5 years. So his argument is, don’t hit us when we’re down, don’t tax us when we’re down.”
Interesting fact about Wynn’s trip – it may not have been necessary.
“It’s not a message that really needed to be delivered,” says Ralston. “They weren’t thinking of taxing gaming, although you never know what might happen in the session, you might argue.”
Another interesting fact about Wynn’s trip – according to Ralston, it wasn't really received well.
Reportedly, Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick was particularly annoyed, since Wynn challenged Kirkpatrick on her proposal for removing exemptions from nightclubs, including the live entertainment tax.
“He got very upset with her, pounded his fist on the desk, she told people, so she got up and said ‘I respect you, but I’m not going to be treated this way,’” and walked out.
So what kind of tax does Wynn think would work for Nevada?
“When I talked to him after his visit, even Steve Wynn said what they should do is pass a broad-based business tax, a gross receipts tax on resort revenue that is not gaming – because they’re already taxed on their gaming revenue – and make everybody pay about one percent on their gross and set a threshold to exempt small businesses,” says Ralston, adding “By the way, it was tried in 2003 and it failed.”