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Inside Gaming Column: A Little Tax Pain Packs Big Potential

4 Jul 2006

By Rod Smith

In Connecticut, casino operators turn over 25 percent of their slot win to the state. Tax reformers are starting to peddle the point that a similar payout here could boost Nevada state coffers by $1 billion a year. They say it would be a great way to pay for needed infrastructure, starting with added airport capacity, highways to truck in the added gamblers or whatever is needed to put heads on beds in all the rooms being added. The casinos would squeal like stuck pigs, but suppose the levy bought them out of the biggest infrastructure challenge since building the Hoover Dam. After that, maybe we can think about local transit, schools and waterworks.

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Fortune magazine recently reported that reality TV star Kelly Monaco got a deal worth "maybe $10,000" for celebrating her 30th birthday at Jet nightclub at The Mirage. The deal included first-class airfare from Los Angeles for the entourage of eight, free booze and a few thousand dollars in chips for the tables. Benefits for The Mirage included publicity and fans plunking down $1,000 to get in and have a bottle of Grey Goose, Fortune said. Not everybody buys it. Victor Drai at Tryst, the Wynn Las Vegas nightclub, called it all ridiculous and said stars can afford to pay for themselves.

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Scuttlebutt is that Harrah's Entertainment is continuing its quiet war to conquer Europe with plans for a Las Vegas-style casino in southern Belgium. Harrah's already has plans under way in Great Britain, Spain and Slovenia. Harrah's is using its newly acquired Caesars brand to lead its European charge and word is that Dutch leaders are impressed enough to be discussing a partnership with Holland Casinos, a state-owned monopoly.

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What's up with this? It sounds as if there's another front in the war for Asian gamblers. An effort is under way to centralize Kazakhstan's casino operations and create an Asian Las Vegas along the shores of Lake Kapchagai. Macau gaming interests and other prospective investors say they're interested. The goal: to lure gamblers from east China and the rest of Asia in competition with Macau. Kazakhstan already boasts more than 140 casinos.

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That's the way it was, July 2, 1958. The soon-to-be-closed Stardust was the world's largest hotel when it opened 48 years ago today with more than 1,000 rooms. The hoopla was incredible. The Stardust capped the Strip's first wave of casinos, preceded by the Tropicana, Dunes, Riviera, Sands, Sahara, Desert Inn and Flamingo. With Caesars Palace, which came six years later, these casinos ruled the Strip for 31 years. And that, for readers who asked, is one reason why we recently made such a fuss because it is taking no reservations past October.

Gaming Wire Editor Rod Smith can be reached by phone at 477-3893 or by e-mail at rsmith@reviewjournal.com.

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