Business briefs

The U.S. Travel Association released two studies on Wednesday that predicted congestion could soon overwhelm many of the country’s largest airports, including McCarran International Airport.

In fact, McCarran was listed as one of the major airports that is already experiencing “Thanksgiving-like congestion levels at least one day every week.”

While the day before Thanksgiving is the busiest of the year for many cities, the passenger spike at McCarran is the second-smallest in the country after Orlando, which also has big tourist and convention industries.

Also, big spikes have been part of the McCarran routine for years, notably on Fridays and Sundays, the start of big conventions such as CES or holidays such as Memorial Day or New Year’s Eve.

“At McCarran, we see these high-traffic days more often than most other airports, so with that experience, we work to maximize our resources and hone our services to make the airport experience as smooth and pleasant as possible for the traveling public,” McCarran spokeswoman Christine Crews said in a statement.

However, she added, longer lines and wait times would be in store as passenger counts grow and without continued investment in improvements. In addition, the punctuality of McCarran flights could deteriorate if delays take place elsewhere.

ATLANTIC CITY (AP) — New Jersey has approved two additional casinos to conduct Internet gambling, bringing the total to seven so far.

The state Casino Control Commission on Wednesday granted a casino license to Caesars Interactive, a subsidiary of Caesars Entertainment.

Right after, the state Division of Gaming Enforcement granted Internet gambling permits to Caesars and Bally’s.

Caesars Entertainment is the world’s largest casino company and owns four casinos in Atlantic City: Caesars, Harrah’s, Bally’s and the Showboat.

The company was eligible for permits for all four casinos, but only applied for two.

The permits will allow the casinos to join a five-day test period of Internet gambling that begins Thursday night.

If all goes well with the trial, Internet gambling will begin statewide on Tuesday.

RENO (AP) — The U.S. Bureau of Land Management says $13,888 was generated in a competitive geothermal lease sale held Tuesday in Reno.

Four parcels, three in Churchill County and one in Pershing County, were offered for lease. The high bid on each of the four parcels was $2 per acre.

Three were sold to Ormat Nevada and one was sold to Colorado-based Presco Energy.

Geothermal leases are issued for a 10-year primary term. Annual rental for a competitive lease is $2 per acre for the first year, and $3 per acre each year after that through 10 years.

The BLM says additional environmental analysis is required before permits are issued to drill or build a facility to develop the energy from the geothermal source.

WASHINGTON (AP) — An increase in shopping last month during the partial government shutdown suggests that the U.S. economy may be more resilient than some have feared.

Retail sales rose 0.4 percent in October, the Commerce Department said Wednesday, after being flat the previous month. The increase showed that many consumers remain willing to spend as the all-important holiday shopping season nears.

The upturn in retail sales last month was a positive surprise. Analysts had speculated that retail sales would be unchanged in October, slowed by the 16-day partial government shutdown and by cheaper gasoline that would mean less money spent at the pump.

Whatever money many consumers saved on gasoline in October they spent elsewhere. Excluding sales at service stations, retail spending rose 0.5 percent. Sales of furniture, electronics, appliances and clothing all showed solid gains.

Congress likely blunted some of the impact of the shutdown by guaranteeing back pay for 800,000 furloughed federal workers.

“There could be the possibility that all those furloughed workers knew they were going to be paid, so they may have taken the opportunity to take a mini-vacation and go shopping,” said Jennifer Lee, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets.

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