Eight Nevada legislators that voted against education funding voted for stadium tax

Eight Nevada legislators that voted against the main component of Nevada Governor Sandoval’s $1.5 billion 2015 education proposal voted for Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas stadium tax during the recent special session.  All are members of the Republican Party.

Assembly Republicans that voted against the education tax based on a no-new-tax platform yet supported the stadium bill that will spend more than $1 billion in tax money are:

  • Michelle Fiore
  • Victoria Seaman
  • Brent Jones
  • Jill Dickman
  • Chris Edwards
  • Jim Wheeler
  • John Ellison

(Sources: SB483 voteSB1 vote)

Two Assembly members were absent during the education tax vote in 2015.  John Moore and Victoria Dooling were excused.  The Las Vegas Sun reported at the time that both were expected to vote against the education tax. Moore and Dooling voted for the stadium tax.

Moore was a GOP member at the time that has since switched to the Libertarian Party.  Libertarians opposed the stadium bill and created the group Don’t Raid Nevada to help fight it, yet the lone party member in the Nevada Legislature was the swing vote that brought the Assembly number up to the needed 28 that gave it a two-thirds majority.

The Nevada Senate passed the final version of SB483 (2015 education tax main component) 18-3.  Two of the three state senators that voted against the education tax increase also voted against the stadium bill. State Sen. Mark Lipparelli voted for the stadium bill in the special session and is shown on the record as voting against the 2015 education bill’s tax during its original vote.

An amendment to the education tax bill moved from the Assembly to the Senate on the final day of the 2015 session.  The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that State Sen. James Settlemeyer voted against that amendment.  Settlemeyer also voted for the Las Vegas stadium bill.

Five legislators voted against both the education and stadium tax bills:

  • Ira Hansen
  • Shelly Shelton
  • Robin Titus
  • Donald Gustavson
  • Pete Goicoechea

I will publish an article later this week on the November races involving legislators mentioned in this post that have taken the position that subsidizing a billionaire’s stadium is more important than funding education.

(Updated to reflect the five legislators that voted against both the education and stadium taxes.)

Update 2: Ryan Hamilton, Victoria Seaman’s campaign manager, took exception to his client being included in this list of Nevada politicians that voted against funding the education proposal. Jon Ralston explained (via KTNV) how Seaman voted for the education spending but against the tax that was needed to fund it.

Seaman accepted $30k from companies related to Las Vegas Sands since August 25, 2016, according to Nevada Secretary of State records. The last contribution was September 29, 11 days before the special session.

Terrible parts of Las Vegas stadium bill beyond the $1.6 billion in public money

I am not able to make the Assembly hearing on the stadium. I am hoping someone that is there will be able to pass on some of this information if it has not already been discussed.

The parts below go beyond the fact that Las Vegas pays $750 million even if the cost is below forecasts. I can’t help but wonder if that is why there is a $335 million infrastructure line in there. That would build the entire 20-year Centennial Bowl project twice. Taxpayers would also receive absolutely no return on the investment.

The thought of taxpayers gifting Sheldon Adelson a stadium is absurd. We would mortgage Clark County taxes to pull this off. While the $750 million number is what gets floated, it is actually $1.6 billion.  The interest is about $450 million of that. There are other costs that include admin services and a fund that would go towards future remodeling. The developer already backed out, too. I hope the Nevada Assembly will stand up for residents.

Terrible portions of the Las Vegas stadium bill that go beyond the expense

The Las Vegas stadium bill may be found here. I will use page numbers in it as a reference.

The first appalling part of this deal is that UNLV would pay rent after taxpayers already put up a majority of the money for its stadium. The Stadium Authority would “Establish a reasonable rent to paid by the University.” (page 18)

The Raiders are required to only sign a 30-year lease (page 18). There is no language that answers what happens if the Raiders decide to break the lease. Proponents will claim that the stadium authority should be able to negotiate that. There are too many examples of poor leases at other NFL venues to leave Las Vegas vulnerable here. Allowing an NFL team a backdoor to leave at the first stadium dispute would be a disaster for Las Vegas.

There are several portions of the bill that exempt the stadium from competitive bidding and public works laws. “The provisions of chapter 341 of NRS do not apply to the National Football League stadium” (page 20).

There is no punishment for investors if they bail. Tax money simply fills that void (page 27).

UNLV gets $3.5 million a year for 10 years, however, that is only after about $50 million in annual revenue is generated from the bonds. The Stadium Board can decide to make that amount lower if it wishes.  There is no guarantee that money will ever be paid (page 28).

The hotel tax has no sunset. Excess funds go into a capital improvement program even after bonds are paid off.  There is little chance the bonds would ever be paid off early based on the placement in the priority list. (page 28)

 

 

Las Vegas stadium already costing taxpayers money

Proponents of the Las Vegas stadium proposal have claimed from the beginning that Nevada residents would not have to pay for it.  The pitch says that it would be paid for entirely by tourists through a hotel tax.  The stadium is nowhere near fruition, yet Nevadans are already footing the bill.

Special legislative sessions are not free

Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval called a special session of the Legislature.  This required 63 legislators to travel to Carson City.  A typical 120-day legislative session, held every other year, costs Nevadans an estimated $20 million, according to the Las Vegas SunLegislators are paid $146 per day plus a $140 per diem to cover meals, lodging and other travel expenses.

A special session in the Legislature is limited to 20 days by the Nevada Constitution.   If the special session called by Governor Sandoval only convenes for 10 days, it would cost Nevada taxpayers about $1.6 million, based on the costs of a 120-day session.  A full 20 days would cost taxpayers about $3.2 million.

Special session not only stadium cost absorbed by Nevada taxpayers

The Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee met 16 times to discuss the stadium.  The Nevada Department of Transportation initiated a traffic study on the two proposed sites near Russell Rd and I-15.  The costs involved with these stadium-related tasks have yet to be disclosed.

There is also debate about how to fund road improvements around the proposed stadium. This need is not specifically funded in the bill.

Nevada taxpayer costs not addressed in proposals

Ignoring the initial costs to taxpayers, there are more issues created by the development of a Las Vegas stadium.  The proposal by Sheldon Adelson and the Raiders states that one of two sites is under consideration.

One parcel is currently the Bali Hai Golf Course.  That parcel pays roughly $391,000 per year in property taxes, according to Clark County records.  The other proposed site is just east of I-15 and Russell Rd.  Public records show that undeveloped land plot has an annual property tax payment of about $347,000.

The language of the Las Vegas stadium proposal turns either parcel into public land.  That removes it from the tax roll.  This would be equal to the demolition of 277 homes based on the average value in the housing market.  This ignores the increase in value of both lots should it be acquired for the purpose of developing a stadium or comparable project.

Both lots under consideration for the stadium are essentially undeveloped.  One is a golf course.  The other is dirt.

Part of a property tax assessor’s duty is to determine the value of improvements.  The construction value of the proposed Las Vegas stadium falls in the neighborhood of $1.6 billion.  That is the assessed value of the entire Bellagio property.  The Bellagio pays $15.95 million in property taxes annually, according to the Clark County assessor’s website.

Not only would Clark County lose nearly $400,000 a year in taxes currently paid on the proposed lots, the declaration of the stadium being public land would remove nearly $16 million in potential annual property tax levies if the property was developed commercially with a comparable investment.

Property taxes would not be the only tax loss for Nevada

The Las Vegas stadium would require tens, if not hundreds of millions of dollars in construction materials.  All of these would be free of sales tax as state and local governments do not pay them.  If just 20 percent of the proposed $1.9 billion stadium was raw materials, that amounts to $31 million in sales taxes lost at the current rate of 8.15 percent if the stadium was developed privately.

Project Requires $1.2 billion in bonds

The stadium would cost about $1.2 billion by the time it was paid off. This could adversely affect the county’s credit rating. That would force future bonds for projects that actually benefit the public to pay a higher interest rate.

Las Vegas stadium demolition costs paid by taxes

There will come a day when the proposed Las Vegas stadium is obsolete with no tenants.  That topic has never been discussed.  The demolition of the Astrodome would cost an estimated $29 million to implode.  Meanwhile, the Houston landmark sits idle at an annual cost of $2 million to taxpayers.

The hotel tax has no sunset. That money would be used to demolish the structure while serving no benefit to the tourism industry or Clark County residents. There is no obligation by the investors to pay for the demolition after earning 100% of the revenues during the project’s life.

Police, fire and EMT costs

Property taxes are often based on the resources needed for the land use.  Placing the Las Vegas stadium into public hands would remove all property taxation.  At the same time, the use of the structure would command police, fire and rescue services.  These would all be paid for by Clark County taxpayers.

There is a $4 million Metro subsidy in the bill. That money would only go to police after paying bonds, admin costs and a reserve fund.

Las Vegas Must Do Something About Internet Service Issues

Las Vegas is a city striving to attract tech companies.  My business falls into that category.  All of my income is derived from customers in other states and countries.

Nevada is the perfect state for a small business like mine due to its favorable tax situation.  All I need is a quality connection to the Internet.  Unfortunately, I have been unable to find this in the past year and my company is suffering because of it.

There are two options for internet service in Las Vegas.  Cox Communications provides cable, while CenturyLink is the DSL provider.  My experience with both in the past year falls below the lowest of expectations.

My home has Cox Communications as its cable internet provider.  The service was flawless for the first four years that I lived in Las Vegas.  In 2015, a contractor tore my Summerlin neighborhood up and laid new fiber.  My service has been unacceptable ever since.  The new wiring may be a coincidence, but it was exactly the time my connectivity issues began.  My neighbors experienced a serious decline in service at the same time.

My access to the Internet slows nearly every day around 4pm.  There are times when it fails multiple times within a few days.  I have lost patience with these constant connectivity issues.

Cox Communications Admits Outages in Most Instances

I call Cox Communications when the Internet goes down.  The automated system acknowledges the problem and states it will be up in a few hours.  Cox does not always live up to its own deadline.

My service was down for 36 straight hours in May 2015. When it finally returned, it failed again within a few hours.  The time the service was promised to return extended multiple times during this outage.  That was during Memorial Day Weekend.  While this was my longest outage, there have been other times it went down for 12 or more hours.

When I first started complaining to Cox Communications, the company is only willing to credit me for a day’s worth of service.  This is after being on hold for 15-60 minutes.  The $1.50 that I save is not worth the time I waste sitting on hold.  They have finally started accept responsibility for the problems and given higher credits.

When my Cox service is down, I am forced to go to hot spots in the hopes of finding access to the Internet.  I have discovered two bars that use CenturyLink, according to employees, citing partnerships CenturyLink has with DirecTV.

The service at these establishments is spotty at best.  The connection is only constant about every other visit.  There are times it is down for my entire visit.

There is never a time that my laptop fails to access the Internet when my cell phone or those of employees are able to access it at these hot spots.  This makes it clear that it is not a hardware failure on my end.

This is embarrassing for a city striving to attract tech startups. Summerlin is the type of community that should be conducive to entrepreneurs, not one where there is a constant hunt for an Internet connection that works.

Regulators must compel these companies to fix these internet problems.  If Cox and CenturyLink refuse or are unable to provide this service, they should be forced out of the market.

Cox Communications Ripoff Charges

It is not just the poor quality of service that is the problem.  I agreed to a $6.99 per month charge in what I thought was a modem lease for my access to the Internet.  A Cox representative told me that I should buy a new modem to help troubleshoot the issues at my home.  They claim my $6.99 per month fee only covers wiring, not hardware, but that was not the discussion I had when the service was installed.

Only a fool would pay $6.99 to insure Cox’s wiring. I feel that type of fee is nothing but a scam.  Cox gave me a $100 credit when I called them on this, but that simply is not enough. I’m out more than $300 from this scheme.

I bought a new router months ago based on a troubleshooting that claimed that was the problem. That did not fix it.

I have no reason to believe my modem is the problem since the automated system at Cox usually acknowledges the problem is on their end when I call to complain.   Even if I was paying Cox to insure my lines to guarantee a constant feed to the Internet, the company is failing to provide that service.  This is evident in the repetitive failure of service.

There is ample evidence to lead me to believe the problem is caused by over selling the bandwidth in my neighborhood.  The time of day of outages and slow speeds coincide with this.  Most of my residential problems occur between 4pm and 9pm during the week and on Saturday afternoons.  The Internet is rarely down in the morning or middle of the night.  The business outages seem to be random at any hour of the day and night.

Las Vegas City Council and Clark County Commission Must Address Monopolies

The companies that provide internet access in Las Vegas are not meeting the demand.  If Las Vegas wants to be considered a city friendly to tech companies, city and county leaders must compel those providing basic online services to do so without repetitive outages.  These monopolies failing to meet the needs of customers jeopardize the future of Las Vegas and its potential to diversify the economy beyond gaming.

Raiders would drastically affect NFL Sunday TV schedule in Las Vegas

Las Vegas is the best city to live in when it comes to the NFL on local TV.  It is the only neutral major market in the country.  Las Vegas gets the best games every Sunday.  There are no NFL teams assigned to the market that cause a conflict with the national games.

This would all change if the Raiders move to Las Vegas.  NFL rules require the team’s TV market to carry all games.  This would cause numerous scheduling conflicts and lost doubleheader games.

NFL home market TV rules

If an NFL team is playing at home, no game may be shown on the other network in that home market at the same time.  If the Raiders play an AFC team at home on CBS at 1:05pm, Fox may not show a late game, even if it has the doubleheader that Sunday.

This causes blacked out doubleheader games in cities where there are NFL teams. Las Vegas would lose up to 8 doubleheader games each season if the Raiders move.

The Raiders broadcasts would have to be shown in its entirety in the home market.  If it is a blowout, the Las Vegas Fox or CBS affiliate would have to stick with it until the end, no matter how ugly it gets.  There is no moving to a more competitive game like what happens today. Even worse, it would often be the only game on TV in that time slot.

If the Raiders play a late game in the second half of a doubleheader and the early game runs late, the network would break away from the early game due to NFL carriage rules.  This means that Las Vegas NFL fans could miss a last second field goal or overtime in an early game to make the Raiders’ kickoff.

When a city’s team plays a road game on the double header network, the single header network will air their Sunday game in the opposite time slot. In one hypothetical example of many, in Week 9, Las Vegas would have seen the imploding Falcons get beat by Blaine Gabbert in his first start with the 49ers instead of the 6-1 Packers play the undefeated Panthers.

This would have been done to avoid a Raiders road game in the early time slot. This is not an NFL rule but it is commonplace among network affiliates in NFL cities.

The local Fox and CBS affiliates would have to schedule morning and afternoon games around when the Raiders played.  This is how the 2015 NFL TV schedule would have changed if the Raiders played in Las Vegas this past season:

NFL TV games blacked out in 2015 due to home NFL TV exclusivity rule if Las Vegas Raiders existed (Source: The506.com)

  • Week 2: Cowboys/Eagles (Fox)
  • Week 8: Seahawks/Cowboys (Fox)
  • Week 10: Chiefs/Broncos (CBS)
  • Week 13: Panthers/Saints (Fox)
  • Week 15: Broncos/Steelers (CBS)

This is a week-by-week look at the games Las Vegas affiliates aired that would have been affected.  All changes would have been on CBS unless otherwise noted.  Early games start at 10am.  Late games start at 1:05pm if on the singleheader network and 1:25pm on the doubleheader network.

  • Week 1: Ravens/Broncos replaced by Bengals/Raiders
  • Week 2: Chargers/Bengals early replaced by Ravens/Raiders late (causes Cowboys/Eagles blackout on Fox)
  • Week 3: Chargers/Vikings replaced by Raiders/Browns
  • Week 4: Chiefs/Bengals replaced by Raiders/Bears
  • Week 5: Patriots/Cowboys replaced by Broncos/Raiders
  • Week 6: Raiders on bye
  • Week 7: Jets/Patriots early replaced by Raiders/Chargers late
  • Week 8: Bengals/Steelers early replaced by Jets/Raiders late (causes Seahawks/Cowboys blackout on Fox)
  • Week 9: Las Vegas CBS aired Raiders/Steelers. Fox would have replaced Packers/Panthers early with Falcons/49ers late to avoid conflict
  • Week 10: Las Vegas Fox showed Vikings/Raiders (if Raiders played in Las Vegas it would have caused Chiefs/Broncos blackout on CBS)
  • Week 11: Broncos/Bears replaced by Raiders/Lions
  • Week 12: Bills/Chiefs replaced by Raiders/Titans. Fox would have avoided Raiders conflict by airing Cardinals/49ers late instead of Giants/Redskins early.
  • Week 13: Broncos/Chargers replaced by Chiefs/Raiders (causes Panthers/Saints blackout on Fox)
  • Week 14: Steelers/Bengals early game becomes Raiders/Broncos late
  • Week 15: Panthers/Giants early Fox becomes Packers/Raiders late (causes Broncos/Steelers blackout of CBS)
  • Week 16: Raiders played on Thursday Night Football
  • Week 17:  Chargers/Broncos late CBS game becomes Raiders/Chiefs

That list shows many duds Las Vegas would have been stuck with if the Raiders played in the market in 2015. In most instances, the Raiders would have been the only game available in that time slot.

Las Vegas NFL fans would have options

Some Las Vegas residents would become fans of the Raiders and be happy with that team’s games airing every week. There is a small percentage of the city that is already a fan of the Oakland Raiders. Fans of the other 31 teams, as well as casual sports bettors, would not be happy about the TV situation caused by the Las Vegas Raiders.

Most Las Vegas NFL fans already have a team that is not the Raiders.  Those that did not already have Sunday Ticket on DirecTV would be more motivated to get it. The other option is to go out and watch the game at a bar or sportsbook every Sunday. That option is probably more expensive than buying Sunday Ticket.

Local Fox and CBS affiliates affected

The Fox affiliate in Las Vegas might be the biggest loser in all of this.  It would lose about six compelling match ups each year. Most would involve losing a doubleheader game entirely, making it so that Fox in Las Vegas could only show one game on doubleheader Sundays if the Raiders played at home on CBS.

CBS could also be a loser if Las Vegas residents do not ditch their own team for the Raiders. That might cause people to watch games at bars or through Sunday Ticket instead of through the local affiliate. It would also potentially lose a doubleheader game or two each year due to conflicts with Raiders home games on Fox featuring an NFC road team.

Las Vegas often highest rated neutral market

Las Vegas is the highest-rated neutral TV market in terms on the NFL when it comes to prime time games.  Time after time Las Vegas typically ranks third, fourth or fifth in NFL prime time ratings.The cities that beat Las Vegas are typically home and nearby markets of the opponents.

The morning and afternoon games also draw spectacular ratings in Las Vegas considering it does not have a home team. As much as the NFL does not want to admit it, sports betting is likely the cause for the high number of viewers in Las Vegas. One could also argue that the ratings are high because the best games available are always televised.

Will the Raiders move to Las Vegas?

The Las Vegas stadium deal is far from a sure thing. Oakland might come to the table with an acceptable offer to keep the Raiders. The Chargers may get their stadium through a referendum later this year. That would give the Raiders the option of moving to Los Angeles where they already have an established fan base.

There is also the stigma Las Vegas has when it comes to the NFL. While there is no rule forbidding a Las Vegas franchise, it would still require 24 votes from the owners.

For all of these reasons. I have serious doubts as to whether the Raiders or any other NFL team will ever call Las Vegas home.

Where I Have Been Writing Lately

I have written several blog posts in the past few weeks after writing just one in the first eight months of the year.  That is because the bulk of my news and casino reviews writing now appears on a variety of sites.

My most recent big project is writing information about resorts on the Las Vegas Strip and downtown for WorldCasinoIndex.com.  That section is completed and I am now working on resorts just off the Strip.  The information includes casino game information, hotel rates, restaurants and nightclubs.

My main news site continues to be USPoker.com and its sister sites.  I mostly write about the U.S. online poker movement with a few Las Vegas stories now and then.  I write some Las Vegas and NFL sports betting information at 4Flush.com.  I also write some content about the offshore online poker industry for SafestPokerSites.com.

I own a bunch of domains.  I am seriously considering developing a Las Vegas poker site.  That niche seems to be seriously lacking right now.  It might be hard to make some money off of that segment but it would be more like a hobby and service.

There is a lot of demand for this type of information.  While I hardly get to play anymore, I have all of the information I need to develop that type of site and make it the highest of quality.  What I am lacking is the time to work on it right now.

I already own Deadwoodpoker.com and it has never made a cent. That site needs updating badly.  I guess that gives me an excuse to take a trip to South Dakota in the coming months.

I plan on writing more on this blog.  I hated seeing it become so dated.  Expect more information about Las Vegas observations, poker, and maybe an occasional rant.

In the meantime, the only gambling I have been doing lately is on some full pay video poker machines on Fremont Street.  The theoretical rate is equal to working a minimum wage job.  The difference is that McDonald’s employees do not receive free drinks just for showing up to work.

If you have any ideas for a blog topic then feel free to leave a comment.  I am always looking for new topics to write about and learn.

 

How Nevada Should Raise $800 Million a Year Without the Margins Tax

There is no denying that education funding in Nevada is woefully inadequate. It is time to fix that.  Some groups have proposed a 2% tax on margins to raise $800 million per year.  It is not the solution.

The margins tax initiative would force companies to pay 2% of one of the following:

  • 70% of gross revenue
  • Gross revenue minus cost of goods sold
  • Gross revenue minus cost of employee compensation

This means that there is a minor deduction.  Most businesses do not run higher than 30% on either product or labor costs, so for simplicity sake, I will just use the 70% of gross revenue number.

This makes the true tax rate 1.4% of total receipts, regardless of actual profit.  A company could have made a large investment that made it unprofitable, but it will still pay 1.4% of its gross revenue to Nevada.  There could have been a catastrophic event in that year for a company, but it will still pay the margins tax in full.  The enormous increase in insurance costs affecting all businesses right now is not deductible, nor is rent, interest, depreciation, expansion, or anything else not directly tied to the cost of the product or the labor to produce it.

This Creates a Sales Tax on Groceries

Walmart’s profit margin is about 3%.  Its competitors profit at about half that rate.  Grocery stores run margins of about 1%. The margins tax will wipe out the entire profits of these businesses.  It is naive to think that these companies will operate in the red for the good of Nevada education.  They are going to raise prices to offset the new taxes.

The margins tax will be passed on as a cleverly disguised sales tax.  This will affect the poor disproportionately.  There are far better solutions to raising this money.

How Nevada Should Raise $800 Million a Year Without Margins Tax

There are so many segments of the Nevada economy that are not paying their fair share in taxes.  It is time to fix that.  Some will require residents to pick up some of the burden, but most of it will be at the expense of tourism and mining industries.

Raise the Gaming Tax Rate 

Nevada casinos make less of their income on a percentage basis from gaming than ever before due to the diversification of the Nevada tourism industry.  The numbers are returning to prerecession levels, meaning that casinos are actually generating more revenue now more than ever when taking amenities into consideration.

Nevada unrestricted gaming licenses won $11.1 billion in 2013.  That generated about $750 million in taxes at the 6.75% rate, which is the lowest in the country.  Only two other states (SD and NJ) are even below 10%.  Most are 20% and higher.

The casinos will fight any increase in gaming tax rates.  They will come up with a million excuses as to why it will hurt their business, but there is one fact that refutes their entire argument. Virtually every one of them is paying more in other jurisdictions and doing just fine.  Unlike those other states, they are not paying income taxes on nongaming income in Nevada, making their effective tax rate even lower.

The new Massachusetts gaming market has a 25% rate.  Three Nevada operators fought to enter that state.

Macau has an average tax rate of 39%.  That is still lower than some states. Pennsylvania is the number two gaming market in the country.  It taxes slot revenue at 55%.

The casinos can afford a 1% increase in gaming tax rates in Nevada.  That would raise $100 million.

Here is a list of all state gaming tax rates.

Tax Resort Amenities

More people are visiting to Las Vegas without gambling at all.  The state needs to get a bigger chunk of the money spent by these tourists that goes virtually untaxed.  A $2.50 increase per room in the hotel/motel tax would generate $81 million from the 125,000 Las Vegas area rooms, assuming a 90% occupancy rate.  This is about identical to what the margins tax would be, it is just more transparent.  Throw the rest of the state in there and that number easily exceeds $100 million.

Tax Restricted Gaming Licenses Similar to Resorts

Restricted gaming licenses are taverns and grocery stores that do not offer full services but have video poker and slots.  The maximum number of machines in a restricted gaming establishment is 15.  There is a tax and licensing fee of about $730 per machine each year.  A tavern with 15 devices pays about $11,000 per year in taxes. Some taverns make that in a day.

Let’s not pretend that these taverns are anything more than small video gambling establishments.  Tax them at the standard rate paid by unrestricted licenses, based on monthly win:

  • 3.5% of the first $50,000 during the month, plus
  • 4.5% of the next $84,000 plus
  • 6.75% of revenue exceeding $134,000

Tax Mining More

Nevada is the largest gold producer in the country.  There is only a 5% mining tax in the state.  That raised $236 million in the last fiscal year.  A 7% tax rate would put it in line with other major mining states.  We just found another $100 million.

A ballot initiative to remove the 5% cap on mining taxes will be voted on by Nevadans in November.  It would authorize the legislature to raise the mining tax.

Brothels

It is not often that a legal business comes along and begs to pay taxes, but that is what is happening in Nevada.  It seems that most politicians want to ignore that legalized prostitution even exists.  It is not going anywhere.  A majority of Nevadans either support it, feel it is a local issue, or simply do not care.

The live entertainment tax does not currently apply to brothels.  Setting the 5% LET tier on the industry would generate $365 million, based on numbers provided by the brothel owners in 2011.  Taxing it just 2% would bring in $146 million.

Cliffs

  • Raise gaming taxes 1%
  • Add $2.50 per night state tax on hotel rooms
  • Raise mining taxes 2%
  • Stop ignoring brothels, which are begging to pay taxes

Thoughts on the New Downtown Summerlin Development

I live about two blocks away from Downtown Summerlin.  That is the new shopping district located just south of Red Rock Resort in the far west end of the Las Vegas Valley.  I went to go check it out on the first day it was open, which was Thursday, October 9.  I returned on Monday.

The opening of the mall symbolizes the end of the Las Vegas recession.  A steel structure of the project sat idle for about four years before construction started on it again.  It was a victim of the economic downturn that bankrupted the original developer.  It is great to see this massive project completed.

Great Marketing Plan by Downtown Summerlin

The people in charge of the grand opening marketing deserve recognition.  The event drew in every news organization in Las Vegas.  The social media campaign was impressive and interaction with guests was excellent.  There were activities throughout the weekend to help draw residents to the new development.  We also enjoyed watching the opening night fireworks show without even having to leave our house.

Major Restaurant Competition

The development has 125 shops.  About 30 of those will be restaurants or food related businesses.

That is a lot of new restaurants opening at almost the same time.  It is also not in an area that is conducive to lunch sales and many of the restaurants in the development are what I would consider lunch options.  There is very little in the way of office space in the area.  That will change as the Downtown Summerlin expands, but it is true for the near future.

The competition is going to be tough for these original tenants dedicated to food.  I visited one on opening day when Downtown Summerlin was nearly at capacity in terms of cars and people and the restaurant was nearly empty.  I visited the same place today and I was the only customer in there.  Hopefully this is not a sign of the future.

The existing food outlets in the surrounding area may also struggle.  Red Rock Resort seems to recognize this as it has nearly turned its restaurant selection completely over in the past year.

Retail Fills Void in Market

The shopping offers a wide selection.  Retail was a segment missing from Summerlin.  It is an affluent area that was underserved.  The highway access should draw people from the northwest part of town.  I would imagine that this area will boom with spending during Christmas season.

Traffic

The traffic generated from Downtown Summerlin has been overwhelming so far.  One issue has been the traffic signals at Sahara Avenue and NV215 and Town Center and 215.  These signals are setup poorly on timers.  The turn arrow off Sahara to go southbound on 215 goes twice per cycle but it runs very short.  These need to be fixed immediately as it causes backups that are unnecessary.

It is also quite shocking that nobody had the foresight to put a light at Pavilion Center and Griffith Peak at the side entrance of Red Rock.  There are 100 useless traffic signals in town and this intersection sits as a four way stop that was not efficient when Pavilion Center was a dead end, much less with 106 acres of new retail sitting on it.

The traffic pattern within Downtown Summerlin is a bit annoying as well.  For example, when you turn right into the complex from Sahara Ave the road dead ends into a service drive going one way the other direction within 500 feet. Obviously these are needed, but the location and lack of ability to drive through that way is poor planning.  The only way to get through it is to drive through a parking area.

Sidewalk and Crosswalk Connectivity Need Improvement

The layout of the sidewalks is terrible in the area I walked around along the Sahara Avenue entrance.  There is no crosswalk where the exit to Sahara is.  The sidewalks just assume that you want to leave.  This may not be that big of a problem except that the sidewalk on the other side of the road ends towards the west side of the entrance into nothing, leading to a bunch of rocks. I doubt this is an area of future development.  It isn’t demonstrated that way on the maps and it would obscure the existing tenant.

There is basically no way to walk from Trader Joe’s to the building where Moe’s and Five Guys are without walking through cactus and rocks even though they are within sight of each other.

Where Are the Bike Racks?

Downtown Summerlin offers no bike lanes, paths or racks that I saw.  They certainly are not in the restaurant or frontage shopping areas. People that arrived by bike either locked them to random objects or left them unlocked.  This situation was also noticed by this blogger.

There are apparently some bike racks in a hidden area of the parking deck and by the movie theater.  This does little for people riding bikes to the quick serve outlets that are forced to lock them up to handicap parking signs and outdoor tables.

It seems that being bike friendly was the type of image the property was portraying.  It is just across the highway from a popular bike path.  I would ride my bike up there for lunch often but it does not even provide a place to store bikes.  This was a major oversight that I hope is corrected.

All of this is meant to be constructive criticism.  I am sure some of the issues I presented are in the works.  The development was new and it is easy to understand that a few items did not make the initial launch.  I want everyone to succeed that invested in this property and wish them the best of luck.

 

Son Learns Driving Safety Lesson on 15th Birthday

Monday was my son’s 15th birthday.  While Nevada does not allow learner’s permits until 15 and a half, I decided it was time to start talking to him about driving.  He got more of a lesson than I expected.

I was driving westbound on West Charleston just after 5pm with him and my eight year old daughter in the car.  We stopped at a red light at Merialdo Ln in front of Boca Park.  A few seconds later the unthinkable happened. A white Toyota 4Runner entered the intersection heading north on Merialdo Ln and flips nearly completely over.  The momentum of the roll took it almost all the way or maybe completely to its roof before resting on its passenger side.

It was hard for my brain to process.  From my angle, I could not see any other car.  My view was obstructed by the SUV.  After a couple of seconds my brain computed that someone must have run the red light and the impact did this.

I was right.  A woman in a mid 2000’s Honda Civic heading eastbound on Charleston ran the red light.  The front of the Civic was lodged into the undercarriage of the SUV.

Can you imagine how fast she was going to roll a Toyota 4Runner with a Honda Civic?  The speed limit is 45.  I doubt that speed could have done that.

Bonefish Grill employees to the rescue

A Bonefish Grill is opening at this intersection next week.  About a dozen employees came running from the restaurant just seconds after the car rested.  Several ran into the road to give aid to the two women in the rolled 4Runner. It was as if they were trained in this, working together to help free the women from the smoking vehicle that gave the appearance that is was on fire or about to be.

Las Vegas drivers on the other hand…

This light runs on a split cycle where northbound Merialdo Ln, the direction the 4Runner was going, turns green first, then the southbound side goes.  The cars going southbound were so rude that when their light turned green they were trying to go around this rescue with this SUV smoking and rolled over with a Civic embedded in its undercarriage.  The same thing occurred when the light turned green for Charleston.  Eastbound cars tried to force their way through.

The accident was not obstructing westbound lanes, but I could not leave my car where I was in the clear travel lanes.  I also had a panicked eight year old in the backseat distressed about what she just witnessed.

I left my cellphone at home but my son had his.  We called 911 and I made a u-turn at the next median break and returned to the scene, parking at Bonefish Grill.

By that time, the Bonefish employees had pulled the women to safety.  The Civic driver got out of her car under her own power.  I left my kids on a sidewalk away from the chaos and walked across the street to see if I could help and let the victims know that I saw everything and would be waiting for the police and fire.

The women that ran the red light was having a panic attack.  A few people were trying to comfort her.  This left to the two from the rollover alone.

I talked to the women in the SUV to comfort them as we waited on paramedics.  They were sitting on a wall at the intersection.  They seemed to be in great shape considering what had happened.

They were clearly in shock.  They told me they were fine, but I encouraged them to allow the paramedics to check them out.

As the shock wore off it became apparent to them that they were more hurt than they thought.  One woman mentioned she may have bit through her tongue.  They both complained about feeling beat up from the seat belts. Both were in a daze.

Fire and rescue appeared a couple of minutes later.  I gave them space and went back with my kids to wait for the police to arrive. All occupants were put on stretchers and taken away from the scene by ambulance.

Metro took much longer to arrive, but when they did, I gave them a statement and we went on our way.

Lessons Learned by Son

My son got to learn a few life and driving lessons out of all this.  He learned about how to report an accident to 911.  He then learned that distracted driving and speeding can lead to serious accidents like this one.  He also learned how seat belts saved lives in this accident.

Bonefish Grill Obviously Has a Great Team of Employees

I believe Bonefish Grill is currently training employees.  The advertised open date is September 29.  This probably made it so that they could drop everything to rush to the accident scene.  They deserve a lot of credit for working as a team in what could have been a dangerous situation on a six-lane state highway.

If these employees work together in this type of crisis, just imagine how well they will keep their cool when faced with the opening week’s dinner rush.  I predict good things for the future of this restaurant based on what I saw Monday.

Rediscovered Online Poker Fun with Ultimate Poker PLO8 SNGs

I was among the thousands of players that were affected by Black Friday.  I used to play Fixed Limit Omaha High/Low and Seven Card Stud High/Low sit and gos and multi table tournaments at PokerStars before Black Friday.  I played online poker professionally off and on for years before Black Friday, which affected both my ability to play and my profession writing content and handling support for Poker Affiliate Solutions.

While I disagree with what happened on Black Friday, it had to occur to bring regulation to the industry.

I live in Nevada where I have two regulated online poker choices; Ultimate Poker and WSOP.  I have tried both equally in terms of rake paid.  I started at Ultimate Poker, but left it for WSOP when it launched because I am not a Texas Hold’em player.  I enjoyed the Omaha High/Low and Seven Card Stud High/Low cash games offered by WSOP, but eventually went back to Ultimate Poker.

The main reason I went back to Ultimate Poker is because of its support.  It is located in Las Vegas and response times rival what I grew accustomed to when I played at PokerStars.  The quality also equals PokerStars.

While I never played Pot Limit Omaha High/Low on a regular basis, I have grown to enjoy the sit and gos offered by Ultimate Poker.  I am a far better tournament player than cash game player. The amount of rake paid is much lower at tournaments as well.

The Ultimate Poker PLO8 sit and gos that run on a regular basis have seven seats with a $2.50 and $7.77 buyin.

The $7.77 sit and gos have a promotion where a player that wins three between November 21st and December 31st will gain entry to a $7,777 freeroll that will be held on January 5th.  I am certain that I am dead money since it is No Limit Texas Hold’em, a game I do not enjoy and have never perfected. I am not playing at Ultimate Poker because of this promotion, but who knows, maybe I can luckbox a cash in it.

The Ultimate Poker PLO8 sit and gos are the most fun that I have had since I lost access to PokerStars and there is ample action, even late at night.  The only thing that would be more fun to me would be having Fixed Limit Omaha High/Low and Seven Card Stud High/Low sit and gos and tournaments.  I feel certain that will never happen with Nevada’s limited liquidity.

I do not give much action at the Ultimate Poker PLO8 cash games because I feel the buyin range is not ideal.  I am not a big fan of 20-50 big blind buyin cash games.  I am sure that Ultimate Poker has its reasons for this, which likely includes keeping players from busting in deep games, but it keeps me from being a regular cash game player there.  If I put myself in Ultimate Poker’s shoes, I feel they are making the correct business decision.

As I watch the success in New Jersey, I wish that I had access to those games.  Hopefully a liquidity agreement will be signed between the states in the near future.  In the meantime, I will probably spend my spare time grinding a few dollars a week out of the low limit PLO8 sit and gos spread by Ultimate Poker until Nevadans have access to serious action.