Gaming tax collections sink

CARSON CITY — At a time when Gov. Jim Gibbons, legislators and everyone else in Nevada would have welcomed good news about the state economy, they got an even more depressing report.

The Gaming Control Board reported Thursday that gaming tax collections in June plunged 22.8 percent from June 2007, the worst drop in at least 10 years.

The $64 million in taxes were collected on the revenue casinos won from players in May.

Winnings for May were just under $970 million, a 15.2 percent drop from $1.143 billion a year earlier, which pummeled the stock prices of the industry’s largest casino operators.

That was the largest decline since 1984, when the control board began monthly tracking of gaming revenue.

A couple of hours after the report was released, Gibbons said the statistics mean the state budget may have to be cut even more.

"This is an incredibly difficult time for the state of Nevada, and it appears that we may need to prepare for an additional shortfall to our general fund for the fiscal year that just began," Gibbons said in a statement.

He already has asked state agencies to determine whether they can make an additional 14 percent in cuts and to prepare for zero growth budgets over the next two-year period.

On the Strip, gaming revenues were $513.4 million in May, a drop of 16.4 percent, compared with $614.5 million in May 2007.

Statewide gaming revenues are down 6.2 percent through May, while Strip gaming revenues are down 5.4 percent for the first five months of 2008.

"Understanding the various economic pressures facing tourism currently, from fuel prices to higher national unemployment, it’s essential that we continue doing whatever we can to entice visitors to come to Nevada," Gibbons said.

As he does almost daily, he reiterated he will oppose any move in the Legislature, which begins its 2009 session in February, to raise taxes.

"I will continue to balance our budget without looking to taxpayers for more money when they’re already struggling in their own lives."

But Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, called Gibbons’ consistent anti-tax message simplistic and said he is out of touch with voters.

"Where do we cut?" she asked. "We can’t keep going on like this. This is like a yo-yo."

"I don’t think most rational people oppose taxes. Paying taxes is the price of living in Nevada. Taxes are not evil. We are at a point where people are so overwhelmed about the lack of services in the state."

Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas, said she is looking at what taxes are levied in other states to see if Nevada could follow suit. Buckley has vowed to re-examine the state’s financial structure.

"This is crazy," she said. "We are having to close down satellite college campuses because we don’t have the money. I am asking all the people of the state to join me so we don’t have to repeat in the future these Draconian cuts."

Buckley said she is getting support from Republicans for her plan to look at the state’s financial structure.

Just two weeks ago, the state Economic Forum, five business leaders who advise the state on how much tax revenue will be available for spending purposes, predicted the state would collect $786.6 million in gaming taxes for the fiscal year that ended June 30.

But as a result of the huge June decline, actual tax collections were $771.8 million, nearly $15 million less than the forum’s prediction.

Based on the forum’s projections, the Legislature in the June 27 special session approved $275 million in additional spending cuts on the state’s two-year, $6.8 billion general fund budget. The cuts were on top of $914 million already approved by the governor and legislators.

It would take a two-thirds vote of both houses to override a Gibbons veto of any bills that would raise taxes. Democrats now hold a 27-15 majority in the Assembly, while Republicans have an 11-10 edge in the Senate.

To find additional revenue, Leslie said, lawmakers might consider withdrawing sales tax exemptions received by lawyers on payments received from clients and from advertising placed by businesses.

Control Board Senior Analyst Frank Streshley said the June gaming tax picture may be less dire than it appears.

Tax collections declined in part because of increased credit play, he said. The state will receive more tax money in coming months as people pay off their markers.

Streshley noted the decline in June was even more severe than after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the last major outside event to hamper Nevada’s tourism industry. The gaming win in 2001 declined 1.3 percent and was down 0.3 percent in 2002.

He said visitors are gambling less. He attributes that to the national economic slowdown. Slot play was down 4.6 percent, while wagering on table games fell by 9 percent.

"The trend that is really alarming to us is the decline in spending," Streshley said.

He said gaming resorts have responded by offering lower room rates to attract customers, but that strategy could attract less affluent people.

"Everything hinges on the economy," Streshley said. "It is tough to gauge what further increases in gas prices will bring. But Las Vegas is amazing at marketing. Las Vegas is still a bargain tourist spot."

MGM Mirage President and COO Jim Murren said it’s clear the nation’s economy is not going to turn around in the near future, but his company, which operates 10 casinos on the Strip and is building the $9.2 billion CityCenter development, is taking steps to bring in business.

He said the MGM Mirage’s performance in May "didn’t mirror what Nevada reported." Still, the company has seen its revenue per available room, one way to gauge profitability, dip from a year ago.

"The market has been pretty rough, and we have reduced room rates," Murren said. "We need to be aggressive in general to get people to Las Vegas. We always have a mountain of promotions going on all the time in an economic cycle but we’re not doing anything extraordinary."

Gaming revenues in May fell throughout Clark County, including a 29 percent drop in North Las Vegas and a 30 percent drop in the Boulder Strip, which includes some casinos in Henderson.

Downtown casinos suffered a 17.3 percent decline in gaming revenues.

Contact reporter Ed Vogel at or 775-687-3901. Contact reporter Howard Stutz at or 702-477-3781

See Hollywood Memorabilia for Free This Week
Looking for something free to do this week? Julien's Auctions viewing room at Planet Hollywood is open to the public 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily through Saturday at Planet Hollywood. Hundreds of iconic movie and television items are on display, including designs and props from Star Wars, Marilyn Monroe's undergarments, costumes from "Superman III," "The Nutty Professor" (1963), "Roseanne" and more. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Hollywood Memorabilia Up For Grabs at Las Vegas Auction
Elvis Presley's car, Marilyn Monroe's bras, Han Solo's blaster, and Jerry Lewis's "Nutty Professor" suit are just some of the items that are up for auction at Julien's Auctions at Planet Hollywood June 22 and 23. The auction's viewing room at Planet Hollywood is open to the public 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily through Saturday at Planet Hollywood. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Indoor farming in Southern Nevada
Experts discuss Nevada's indoor farming industry. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Fontainebleau could have become a Waldorf Astoria
Months after developer Steve Witkoff bought the Fontainebleau last summer, he unveiled plans to turn the mothballed hotel into a Marriott-managed resort called The Drew. But if Richard “Boz” Bosworth’s plans didn’t fall through, the north Las Vegas Strip tower could have become a Waldorf Astoria with several floors of timeshare units. (Eli Segall/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New Springs Preserve Exhibit Shows Off "Nature's Ninjas"
"Nature's Ninjas" arrives at the Springs Preserve, in an exhibit and live show featuring critters that come with natural defenses, from armadillos to snakes, poison dart frogs to scorpions and tarantulas (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CrossRoads of Southern Nevada psychiatric urgent care to open in Las Vegas
Jeff Iverson, who operates the nonprofit sober living facility Freedom House, is opening a private addiction treatment center that will operate a detoxification center and transitional living for substance users trying to recover. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Metro Capt. Jaime Prosser gives update of officer-involved shooting
Metro Capt. Jaime Prosser provides an update about an officer-involved shooting at Radwick Drive and Owens Avenue in the northeast Las Vegas on Thursday. A robbery suspect was shot and killed. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Wayne Newton surprises burglars
Wayne Newton and his wife, Kathleen, arrived at their southeast Las Vegas home shortly before midnight on Wednesday to find two burglars inside their house. The burglars fled and were seen heading north through the property. Las Vegas police quickly set up a perimeter and launched an extensive search of the area, but the suspects were able to escape. It was unclear if the burglars got away with anything of value. Several items, under the watchful eyes of the police, were seen on the ground near the home's main driveway. Neither Newton, nor his wife, were injured. The Newtons were not available for comment.
Police Officers Turn Off Body Cameras
In four separate body camera videos from the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting released Wednesday, officers in a strike team are instructed to turn their body cameras off and comply with the request.
Debra Saunders reports from Singapore
Las Vegas Review-Journal White House correspondent talks about the historic summit between President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un.
How long will North Korea's denuclearization take?
In Singapore, Las Vegas Review-Journal White House correspondent Debra Saunders asks President Donald Trump how long North Korea's denuclearization will take. White House video.
LVCVA purchase of gift cards hidden
A former LVCVA executive hid the purchase of $90,000 in Southwest Airlines gift cards in records at the agency. Brig Lawson, the senior director of business partnerships, said the money was for promotional events and did not disclose that it was for gift cards. Lawson also instructed Southwest employees to submit invoices without mentioning the purchases were for the cards. More than $50,000 of the cards cannot be accounted for. The convention authority is publicly funded . Lawson recently resigned.
Kim Jong Un visits Marina Bay Sands in Singapore
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his entourage visited the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore briefly Monday night, local time. (Video by Philip Chope)
Coca-Cola Bottle Purse Has 9,888 Diamonds
Designer Kathrine Baumann and jeweler Aaron Shum set the Guinness World Record for most diamonds (9,888) set on a handbag. The Coca Cola bottle-shaped purse was on display at the Coca Cola Store on the Strip. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sentosa Island a pleasure resort with a pirate past
The site of Tuesday's U.S.-North Korea summit is known for theme parks and resorts. But before that, it was known as a pirate island. (Debra Saunders/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Judge Sandra Pomrenze's comment about girl's hair
Nevada Races Full of Women From Both Sides
It's already been a historic election season for women in politics. Record numbers of women are running for political office all over the country - including Nevada. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
East Las Vegas home damaged by fire
Clark County Fire Department crews responded to a house fire in east Las Vegas Thursday morning. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
911 call: Mom tries to get to son shot at Route 91
A woman stuck on the interstate during the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting on Oct. 1, 2017, in Las Vegas, tries to get to her son. 911 call released by Las Vegas police.
Las Vegas 911 caller reports people shot on Oct. 1
A 911 caller on Oct. 1, 2017, reports several people shot at the Route 91 Harvest festival in Las Vegas.
911 call from woman under stage in Las Vegas shooting
A 911 call from a woman underneath the stage at the Route 91 Harvest festival during the Oct. 1, 2017, Las Vegas shooting.
LVCVA facing scandal over gift cards
LVCVA is facing a growing scandal over airline gift cards. LVCVA bought $90,000 in Southwest Airline gift cards between 2012 and 2017. Now auditors can’t account for more than $50,000 of the cards. CEO Rossi Ralenkotter and his family used $16,207 in gift cards on 56 trips. Brig Lawson, the senior director of business partnerships, was responsible for buying and distributing the cards. He recently resigned.
Siblings separated in the foster care system get a day together
St. Jude's Ranch for Children and Cowabunga Bay Cares program partnered to bring 75 siblings together for the day to play on the water slides and in the pools at the Henderson water park. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
People flee the Route 91 Harvest festival on Oct. 1, 2017
Las Vegas police released footage from a camera on Mandalay Bay of the Route 91 Harvest festival on Oct. 1, 2017
Aaliyah Inghram awarded medal of courage
Aaliyah Inghram, a 10-year-old girl who was shot while protecting her 18-month-old brother and 4-year-old cousin during a shooting on May 8, awarded medal of courage. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Las Vegans Pack Public Lands Open House
A crowd filled the Clark County Library conference room Tuesday afternoon where Clark County officials hold their first -- and possibly only -- public meeting on plans to open almost 39,000 acres of federal land for development just outside the Las Vegas metropolitan area. County commissioners are set to vote June 19 on a potentially controversial resolution seeking federal legislation that would set aside tens of thousands of acres for conservation while giving Nevada’s largest community more room to grow. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Police search Henderson Constable's home and office
Las Vegas police served search warrants Tuesday at Henderson Constable Earl Mitchell's home and office. The investigation was sparked by a Las Vegas Review-Journal story showing Mitchell wrote himself $70,000 in checks, used ATMs at casinos and video poker bars, and traveled to places his adult children live. All using county funds. Police refused to comment but Mitchell's attorney said he did nothing wrong.
Vegas Golden Knights fans shows his colors for community
Vegas Golden Knights superfan Lynn Groesbeck has wrapped his new truck with Knights logos and images. He loves how the Golden Knights are bringing community back to Las Vegas. People stop him on the street to take photos and share his support. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Acting Coach Daryl Morris on His Craft
Acting coach Daryl Morris, whose father Bobby was Elvis Presley's conductor in Las Vegas, discusses his craft and how he leads his own classes. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Constable wanted county funds to fight Review-Journal investigation
The Las Vegas Review-Journal asked for public records to investigate constable spending. But Henderson Constable Earl Mitchell hired outside counsel to fight the request. And he wanted the county to pay nearly $7,500 for those attorneys. The county declined. And records show the constable's office owes taxpayers $700,000. County officials said the money will be repaid over three years. Mitchell abandoned his re-election before the Review-Journal story ran.
News Headlines
Local Spotlight
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like