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Nevada tax raise to fund education heats up

Fri, Feb 7, 8:31am by Noah Taylor

Nevada casinos are looking to sabotage a ballot initiative that calls for a major hike on gaming tax.

Casino.org reports that the Nevada Resort Association, which represents all the state’s major casinos, filed a lawsuit in Carson City District Court on Tuesday that picks holes in the language of the initiative, in a bid to delay or derail it.

The ballot petition – spearheaded by the Clark County Education Association, a teachers’ union – proposes to raise taxes for casinos by three per cent, which would result in a projected increase to state revenue of $350 million a year.

The union has filed a separate ballot initiative that would increase statewide Local School Support Tax by 1.5 per cent.

It opes the two motions will together create around a $1.4 billion boost to Nevada’s underfunded K-12 education system and other state programs.

Nevada’s casino taxes are the lowest in the land outside of Indian country – a 6.76 per cent tax on gross gaming revenues, which is a 7.75 effective tax with the addition of fees.

The casino sector is the state’s economic engine, and has historically been protected by the legislature.

The industry boss argues in its complaint that the petition contains inaccuracies in its “Description of Effect”, the blurb that describes what the measure aims to achieve and tells voters what they’re voting for.

The complaint notes that the CCEA gives the wrong date on which the proposed law would take effect and doesn’t explain that the money from the new taxes would go into the state’s general fund and not directly to schools.

Lawmakers would have “no duty to use any of this money for education,” it claims.

Whether by design or oversight, these errors could “mislead voters” and “create legal uncertainty related to implementation” the complaint reads.

Supports of the initiative have until November to gather roughly 98,000 signatures.

If successful, the question would first be sent to the legislature.

If lawmakers fail to pass the measure, the vote would go to the public.

Nevada has consistently been at the bottom or near the bottom of public education rankings.

In 2019, it was 50th out of 50 states at the District of Columbia, outbranking only New Mexico.

New gaming innovation centre at University of Nevada

A Las Vegas casino and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas say they are partnering to create a teaching and practice space featuring a mock casino, hotel rooms, sports betting area and esports arena.

The Times Union is reported in May that Caesars Entertainment Corp and the university have dubbed the centre “Black Fire Innovation” and officials say it will provide a 3,995 square metre space to host, develop and market hospitality products and ideas.

“Black Fire Innovation has space you can really test out that idea and build the next prototype, or engage elbow-to-elbow with a corporation to move that (idea) forward to some type of life-changing product or services,” Zach Miles, UNLV associate vice president for economic development, told the Las Vegas Review Journal.

The space will be built at UNLV’s Harry Reid Research and Technology Park, southwest of the Las Vegas Strip.

The two-storey facility will include a student lab, work space and a replica resort and casino with slot machines and table games.

“This collaboration with Caesars Entertainment will strengthen UNLV’s role as a research leader and further elevate Las Vegas as the global intellectual capital for gaming and hospitality,” UNLV president Marta Meana told the Las Vegas Sun in a statement.

“Collaborations like Black Fire also give our students unparalleled access to experts at the forefront of the industry,” Meana said.

Caesars Entertainment executive vice president Les Ottolenghi called the effort a natural partnership.

“Our industry is highly competitive and rapidly evolving, so we have to continuously innovate to ensure our future as we establish new business models and revenue streams,” Ottolenghi told the Review-Journal in an email.

“This is really an opportunity for us to redefine the industry,” he said.

Officials said the space would be available to students of all majors, as well as researchers and partners.

They’ll be able to analyse food and music in casinos, and focus on emerging technologies such as block chain, artificial intelligence, cyber security and virtual reality.

“You’re using academic skills to work on real-world problems in the industry,” Miles said.

“If you’re not thinking of a new product or service or efficiency that will provide our lives with enjoyment, you may not exist.”

Financial details of the partnership between Caesars and UNLV were not disclosed.

The technology park is a 122-acre mixed-use centre currently home to a charter school and pharmaceutical company.

A 2018 economic analysis by the UNLV Center for Business and Economic Research estimated the park could generate as many as 25,000 jobs and as much as $2.6 billion in direct and indirect economic impact in Las Vegas over 20 years.


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