Wynn Resorts Ltd. Chairman Steve Wynn repeated his assertion that Nevada’s gambling industry is in ill health and voiced support for a broad-based tax on all companies and businesses earning more than $1 million annually.
Wynn said the gambling industry “would be of one mind and would support” a broad-based business tax of 0.5 percent on all companies, including hotel-casinos, manufacturers, mining, supermarkets and other service industries.
He said the modified business tax, also known as the payroll tax, should be eliminated and replaced by a broad-based business tax.
“Everyone would pay it. It’s that simple,” Wynn, 71, said during a wide-ranging interview that initially was focused on his company’s expansion efforts in Boston and Philadelphia. “The answer is a thin, broad-based answer. Everyone would pay a half-percent on gross receipts.”
Wynn estimated the tax would raise “between $300 million and $500 million” during a biennium.
Wynn repeated his claim the casino industry “is in ill health” and needs time “to climb out of this slowly.” He said the remarks weren’t directed at any perceived attempt to raise the state’s gambling tax above the current 6.75 percent level.
Wynn said unnecessary costs on the casino operators, such as the payroll tax, kills the industry’s recovery.
He cited the Gaming Control Board’s annual Gaming Abstract Report, which compares revenues and income produced by casinos generating more than $1 million in gaming revenues during the fiscal year.
The most recent abstract, released in January, showed the state’s casino industry reporting a net loss of $1.21 billion in fiscal 2012, which compared with a net loss of $4 billion in fiscal 2011.
But on Thursday, Gov. Brian Sandoval said he would not support the broad-based business tax proposal after meeting privately with Wynn.
“There are a couple of other tax proposals that I said I’m not supporting. As we move forward, I’ll continue to have dialogue with him,” Sandoval said.
As for Wynn’s comment that the industry was in ill health, Sandoval said, “things are improving steadily.”
Online poker compact
Gov. Brian Sandoval said Thursday he has held preliminary talks with other state governors on partnering with Nevada on Internet poker.
Sandoval didn’t name the states, but gambling sources said Texas could be a target.
Sandoval, a Republican, supported Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s brief run for the Republican presidential nomination last year. Also, the Texas Legislature is considering the Poker Gaming Act of 2013, which would make it legal in the state to play poker online.
“I’ve talked with a few governors and I’m introducing the concept of compacting,” Sandoval said following a tour of the new corporate headquarters in Las Vegas for BMM International, one of two laboratories that tests gambliing equipment for Nevada regulators.
“It’s very much in the early stages, and we have a great opportunity because we have the infrastructure and other states have the players,” Sandoval said. “I’m hopeful we’ll continue to talk.”
Pinnacle deal OK’d
The Nevada Gaming Commission on Thursday unanimously approved Pinnacle Entertainment Inc.’s $869 million merger with rival Ameristar Casinos Inc.
The deal doubles the size of Pinnacle Entertainment, giving the Las Vegas-based company 17 gaming properties plus one resort now under development. Pinnacle owns casinos in Louisiana, Missouri and Indiana and racetracks in Ohio and Texas and is acquiring eight properties in Missouri, Iowa, Colorado, Mississippi, Indiana and northern Nevada.
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority soon will purchase another slice of Sierra Vista Drive, for $4.6 million.
The purchaser was given the go-ahead to execute the sale by its board of directors. Once the sale closes, the authority will own the parcel at 920 Sierra Vista Drive, known locally as the Sierra Vista Square Apartments.
The 3.35-acre parcel will provide parking, freight storage and space for expansion adjacent to the Green Parking Lot. The authority’s Las Vegas Global Business District project’s plans for a new convention hall also come into play with this purchase.
“This will give us additional flexibility as to where that will be located,” said Rossi Ralenkotter, president and CEO of the authority.
Poker firm probed
State gaming regulators are looking into the relationship between 2-week-old Internet poker website Ultimate Poker and an unlicensed service provider used to identify new players.
In an email, Gaming Control Board Chairman A.G. Burnett said gaming agents are working with officials from Ultimate, which is majority owned by Station Casinos.
Over the weekend, Ultimate Gaming, parent of Ultimate Poker, said in a statement through a spokesman that on Thursday, it “discontinued” using services from Iovation. The company according to poker news resources, was linked to a 2008 online cheating scandal that brought down Ultimate Bet, which is not related to Ultimate Poker.