Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal might want to be a little more careful about how he chooses his words. He doesn’t want to set off fireworks with some of his state’s biggest tax producers.
Jindal, a rumored 2012 presidential candidate, slammed as "wasteful spending" a proposed multibillion-dollar magnetic levitation train that would run between Southern California and Las Vegas.
Boyd Gaming Corp. CEO Keith Smith said Thursday that the train, a project debated and imagined for almost three decades, would be useful in bringing visitors to Las Vegas and alleviating traffic along busy Interstate 15.
This is where advisers may need to caution Jindal.
In addition to its Las Vegas holdings, Boyd Gaming operates three casinos in Louisiana. Harrah’s Entertainment operates Louisiana’s largest casino, Harrah’s New Orleans. Meanwhile, Las Vegas-based Pinnacle Entertainment operates three casinos in Louisiana and has plans to build two others.
All three companies have a vested interest in a strong Las Vegas economy.
Louisiana is one of just a smidgen of regional gaming markets actually doing well of late. Gaming revenues in January topped $222 million, an 11 percent increase from a year ago.
Jindal might not want to upset executives from the casino operations.
For his part, Smith, who also serves as the vice chairman of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, did his best to stay out of the potential fray.
"I have not engaged Governor Jindal on any topic and I don’t intend to go down that slippery political slope," Smith said.
Still, Smith thought a magnetic levitation train could be useful for the health of the Southern Nevada tourism economy.
"Our main artery (I-15) is only so large and can only support so much vehicle traffic," Smith said. "More than anything (the train) could be an efficient way of getting people here."