Allegiant Air will begin twice-a-week flights between McCarran International Airport and Reno-Tahoe International Airport on Feb. 1.

The new service comes with introductory one-way fares of $49.99, not including the various added fees that come with an Allegiant flight. On some days, the base fare rises as high as $73.99.

In launching this route, Allegiant will go head-to-head with Southwest Airlines, which now has a route monopoly. Southwest flies eight or 10 times a day, with the February calendar showing the lowest fare at $95.

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Allegiant will operate a MD-87 aircraft with 120 passenger seats for the flights.

Music venues in heavy competition for New Year’s

The $2 billion nightclub industry sets its sights on New Year’s with a laser focus, but it’s not only clubs vying for consumers’ late-night entertainment dollars. Concert venues, too, are playing the Las Vegas New Year’s Eve field in a big way.

In 2011, an estimated 314,000 people visited Las Vegas on Dec. 31, up from 2010’s 309,000 visitors. The nongaming economic impact from last year’s festivities was $192.6 million, up from 2010’s $189.6 million. An average 2012 weekend in Las Vegas draws 300,000 people, but New Year’s projection for this year aren’t yet available.

One factor that could add to the New Year’s payday this year is that Dec. 31 falls on a Monday, which has some nightlife operators programming the entire weekend with New Year’s-caliber entertainment. The last time Dec. 31 fell on a Monday was in 2007, when 284,000 visited, bringing a nongaming economic impact of $196.6 million, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority records.

Nima Samadi, bars and nightclub industry analyst for IBIS World, said although there are more than enough bodies to go around, clubs are in heavy competition to get as many of them as possible.

“DJs and headliners tend to be the biggest draw,” he said.

Airport traffic continues to fall

The slide in passenger traffic at McCarran International Airport continued in October with little hope of a turnaround soon.

During the month, the 3.68 million passengers who left or arrived by plane marked a 1.5 percent drop from the same month one year ago. It was fourth time in the past five months that the visitor industry benchmark has declined although at rates that have not exceeded 3 percent.

In November, schedules kept by the Clark County Department of Aviation, which operates McCarran, showed a 2.5 percent decline in the number of flights and 0.6 percent decline in the number of seats, as larger planes are used.

With similar numbers on the books for the coming months and planes already filled to record levels, department director Randall Walker predicted Nov. 21 that passenger totals will fall short of the 2 percent gain projected for the fiscal year that began July 1.

Federal online gambling bill gets boost

Senate leaders received some needed support as they continued to try to move online gambling legislation through Congress during the lame-duck session, a tough task made tougher with the fiscal cliff looming and a key conservative ally retiring.

The American Gaming Association launched a lobbying and educational effort urging Congress to pass a federal online poker bill by the end of the session in an effort to block gaming’s rapid expansion on a state-by-state basis.

“Without swift congressional action, the U.S. will soon see the largest expansion of legal gambling in its history,” association President and CEO Frank Fahrenkopf Jr. said.

Fahrenkopf said without federal guidelines, the result will almost certainly be inadequate oversight that “creates a world of unnecessary risk and problems for law enforcement and consumer.”

Caesars to issue new debt

Caesars Entertainment Corp. announced Wednesday it plans to issue $300 million in new debt at a 9 percent rate that would mature in 2020.

Caesars, which has almost $20 billion in longterm debt, said it will use proceeds from the new debt offering to pay related fees and expenses and for general corporate purposes.

Up to $150 million of the proceeds would also be used to retire existing debt.

Caesars Interactive gets online poker approval

The Gaming Control Board tentatively approved Caesars Interactive Entertainment to operate online poker in Nevada.

The company, the interactive arm of the Caesars Entertainment Corp., manages the promotion and advertising aspects of the annual World Series of Poker.

If approved by the Nevada Gaming Commission on Dec. 20, Caesars would become the 17th company granted an interactive gaming license to offer online poker to players who are physically within the state’s borders.

Gambling executive pleads not guilty in bookmaking case

A lawyer for a former Cantor Gaming executive charged with four felonies in connection with an illegal bookmaking ring said his client has pleaded not guilty.

Michael Cristalli, a Las Vegas lawyer, said he expected to reach a favorable resolution of the charges against his client, Michael Colbert.

Colbert was arrested with seven other people in Southern Nevada on Oct. 24 on warrants stemming from an 18-month investigation into illegal bookmaking and money laundering. He is charged with enterprise corruption, conspiracy to operate an illegal gaming enterprise and three counts of money laundering.

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