Asked what is holding up passage of an online poker bill, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid offered a one-word response: “Republicans.”
Reid, speaking Tuesday to reporters outside the Senate chamber, said support from at least a dozen Republicans is needed to win passage of a bill legalizing online poker. So far, the GOP hasn’t delivered.
“At this point, we’ve got none,” Reid said.
The legislation is seen as a boon to Nevada casinos seeking to tap into the billions of dollars now wagered online, and is supported by Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev.
Heller chuckled when told of Reid’s response.
“That’s his answer to everything — blame Republicans,” Heller said.
The two had clashed in September over the same issue but with a sharper edge as Heller was in the midst of an election campaign.
Reid blamed Heller for failing to win Republican votes, while Heller contended Reid was setting him up and playing politics with the online poker issue .
Heller said Tuesday that he is actively seeking support for the bill from his Republican colleagues. He is meeting today with Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., to discuss the bill.
“I am beating the bushes,” he said.
Heller is not sure he can deliver as many Republican votes as Reid says are needed, increasing the odds against Congress legalizing online gaming this session.
“It’s going to be tough,” he said.
McCarran Airport’s budget remains tight
Tight operating budgets continued during the last fiscal year at McCarran International Airport with no end in sight.
According to the annual audit for the 12 months ended June 30, measures such as not filling at least 10 percent of job vacancies, freezing nonunion employee pay, hanging onto computers and software longer and even replacing paper towel rolls in the restrooms less frequently all remained in effect despite a modest uptick in passenger counts. Many measures were instituted about four years ago as the recession, coupled with US Airways’ dismantling the hub it operated in Las Vegas, caused an unprecedented plunge in the traffic that generates critical income.
“Right now, we don’t see any end to the austerity measures going forward,” said Randall Walker, director of the Clark County Department of Aviation, which runs the airport, on Monday. “Some things may not change even if we see brighter light at the end of the tunnel.”
For example, thermostats in the concourses were raised a couple of degrees in the summer and lowered in the winter to cut cooling and heating costs. Since passengers did not complain, Walker said, there is no reason to change.
The current budget is based on passenger totals rising 2 percent, what Walker said initially looked conservative based on higher growth rates the previous two years. However, the counts have started declining and the airline schedules for the coming months show no relief.
So the airport staff will work to shave a couple of million dollars out of an operating budget that ran $222.3 million last year.
“We are trying to do this in a real-time basis so that we don’t put ourselves in a position where we have to make deeper cuts later,” Walker said.
UNITE-HERE elects new president
Culinary Local 226 leader D. Taylor was formally elected president of UNITE-HERE on Thursday, a month after the expected change in the 250,000-member international organization was announced.
Taylor, 55, will give up his role as secretary-treasurer of the 60,000-member Culinary, the largest UNITE-HERE affiliate. Secretary-treasurer is the top position in the local’s hierarchy. A replacement has not been named.
During a general executive board meeting of UNITE-HERE in Chicago, members elected Taylor to replace John Wilhelm, the organization’s president since 2009 who announced his planned retirement last month.
“This is a tremendous honor, and a huge challenge,” Taylor said in a statement. “Our job is to fundamentally change the fate of workers in our industries. I’m optimistic that we can do that, but it’s going to require taking some real risks.”
UNITE-HERE, headquartered in New York City, represents workers throughout the U.S. and Canada who are employed in the hotel, gaming, food service, manufacturing, textile, distribution, laundry, and airport industries.
Taylor is a UNITE-HERE general officer, serving as general vice president and gaming division director for North America. He will serve as president until the 2014 national convention.
Cantor opens sports book at Silverton
Cantor Gaming opened its eighth race and sports book on Thursday, as the company continues to invest millions of dollars to expand its lines of business in Southern Nevada to include sports books, poker rooms, mobile and self-service wagering stations in bars and restaurants.
The new race and sports book is at the Silverton.
“We have a new twist in 2013,” Cantor Gaming President and CEO Lee Amaitis said. “Our mobile gaming platform will be upgraded for the iPad, iPhone and Android.”
Amaitis said the updated mobile gaming platform will include several new games and upgrades of current games. He declined to identify any of the new games until they are approved by Nevada gaming regulators.
Lake Las Vegas hotel, resort change hands
A California real estate company has acquired the Ravella at Lake Las Vegas and adjacent Casino MonteLago for $46.8 million.
Arcadia-based Kam Sang Co. bought the casino building and 349-room Ravella at Lake Las Vegas on Nov. 21 from Village Hospitality LLC, said Phil Wolfgramm, the company’s senior vice president.
Village Hospitality, an extension of Deutsche Bank, acquired the property in February 2009 after the previous owners sought bankruptcy protection. Ravella, formerly a Ritz-Carlton, reopened under its new name in March 2011 nine months after it closed.