Drawings of a proposed downtown Las Vegas arena depict a sleek, glass-and-steel structure sparkling in the glare of spotlights and neon.
The would-be developers from the Cordish Cos. describe the $390 million facility as a “generational opportunity” that would attract millions of new visitors to the city’s burgeoning downtown and Symphony Park district.
Political supporters of the project savor the prospect of attracting big league basketball and hockey to a pro sports backwater.
Those dreamy scenarios typically rule the day when a showcase project clears a major hurdle, as the arena did Wednesday.
But the 4-3 city council vote to give Cordish another four months — after four years of planning — to finish its funding plan was a bloody victory for the pro-arena faction. It revealed deep divides between the downtown business community and city hall, and between council members who disagree on the propriety of investing public money in a home for a sports franchise.
The debate also laid bare the hard fact that the current financial plan falls $52 million short of the estimated cost, with no obvious way of filling the gap. And given the hard feelings aired during public testimony, it’s hard to imagine major downtown players volunteering to help.
“I can’t help but feeling like a betrayed spouse or partner, not just once but several times,” said Richard Worthington, chief operating officer of the Molasky Group development company and a Downtown Las Vegas Alliance director.
Worthington was upset that Cordish’s original funding plan, revealed just days before the vote, called for a tax on downtown businesses to raise about $50 million for the arena. City officials quickly backed off that scheme once it went public.
The Nevada Gaming Commission on Thursday unanimously approved a record $5.5 million fine levied against the race and sports book subsidiary of Cantor Fitzgerald L.P. related to illegal bets by a top executive.
“Today is a bad day,” Commissioner Tony Alamo said. “This is an enormously large sum of money. This is a revenue get. That’s not our goal. Our goal is to punish” those who violate state gaming regulations.
Alamo credited CG Technology’s CEO Lee Amaitis for attending the hearing but cautioned him that this incident was national news and “gave Nevada a black eye.” Alamo said he wouldn’t want to see CG Technology come before the commission for a similar incident in the future.
“I am not afraid of revocation” of a company’s license,” Alamo said.
Chairman Peter Bernhard said he was initially reluctant to support the stipulation because of the damage done to the industry by the company.
But Bernhard eventually supported it, because it is the largest fine ever against a gaming company. He said the $5.5 million fine sends a message that “people will be held accountable.”
In the complaint, regulators said CG Technology failed to prevent Michael Colbert from operating an illegal sports betting ring that made an estimated $34 million in bets. Colbert, formerly risk management director and vice president of the former Cantor Gaming in Las Vegas, worked with three men who worked as messengers to place wagers for Gadoon Kyrollos, a high-level sports bettor.
Slot machine maker International Game Technology grew profits and revenue in the first quarter despite what company officials described as “market challenges.”
IGT, which has headquarters in both Las Vegas and Reno, said Thursday its net income for the quarter ended Dec. 31 increased 21 percent to $79.2 million. Overall company revenue for IGT rose 2.1 percent to $541.2 million, the smallest increase in the past four quarters.
In a statement, IGT warned investors that the company’s profits could drop over the next few quarters if declining gaming revenue trends continue in several markets. IGT said several “acquisition-related expenses” stemming from the 2012 purchase of DoubleDown will also kick in during the year.
Taxi fare signs
Before he got into McCarran International Airport’s taxi line Friday, Kevin King stopped to read a new cab-top sign. He wanted to find out what a fare to Treasure Island should run.
“It’s helpful to have an idea of what I should pay,” said King, an Augusta, Ga., resident who hasn’t been to Las Vegas in several years.
In his case, the fare ranged from $20 to $25.25, depending on three sample routes posted by the Nevada Taxicab Authority.
The taxi fare signs are a new prong in an effort to curb longhauling by cabdrivers.
For years, unsuspecting tourists have started their vacations with a circuitous trip from the airport to the hotel that padded the fare by as much as $12 per trip, based on authority calculations. Several million dollars are at stake.
“Our primary goal is to protect passengers and ensure they are not overcharged,” authority Administrator Charles Harvey said. “Better-informed consumers are less susceptible to fraudulent behavior.”
In many instances, he said, visitors don’t know they have been longhauled until going home, when a driver takes the short route to McCarran at a much lower fare.
Estimates of longhauling’s pervasiveness vary widely because of sheer cab ride volume. In 2013, 3.6 million cab trips originated at McCarran, or an average 9,700 per day.