A proposal to tax casino comps in New
Jersey doesn’t have a chance of passing in Nevada. Gamers say the Detroit
Tigers have a better shot at winning the World Series.
“It would be counterproductive, to
say the least,’’ Nevada Resort Association chief Bill Bible said of New
Jersey Gov. James McGreevey’s controversial plan to slap a 6 to 12 percent fee
McGreevey sees a $33 million windfall
for the Garden State if complimentary rooms and meals are taxed. But he’s run
into instant opposition.
“If it’s more costly to comp people
. . . it could impact gaming revenues and therefore impact the other state
gaming taxes,’’ Timothy Wilmott told the Atlantic City Press. Besides, the
Harrah’s exec and president of the Casino Association of New Jersey noted,
“It’s a marketing expense, not something we sell.’’
Nevada regulators cannot remember any
such idea ever surfacing here. And regulators and gamers tell GamingToday they’d
be surprised if it did this year.
driven by comps,’’ says Greg Gale of the state’s audit division.
are how we get people here,’’ said Mike Sloan, executive vice president at
who also sits on Gov. Kenny Guinn’s commission on taxation, says the panel is
searching for ways to “broaden the tax base,’’ not to increase the burden
on those sectors already paying taxes.
industry is under threat. Mandalay made less than it did the year before and
revenue is not growing,’’ Sloan said. Meantime, he notes that homebuilders
headquartered outside Nevada are posting big profits. Net income, at Los
Angeles-based Kaufman and Broad, which sold a majority of its houses in Las
Vegas, was up 65 percent last year.
an uptick in February, the Strip’s gaming win fell 10.2 percent during the
first two months of this year. That followed a 12 percent decline in the
October-December period after 9-11.
money-hungry politicians may be tempted to tap into comps. In fiscal 2001,
Nevada’s largest casinos dispensed a whopping $1.588 billion in free rooms,
meals, drinks and other perks to customers — nearly five times more than
Atlantic City comped. As gaming has grown, so have comps, Gale reports.
far, though, even industry nemesis state Sen. Joe Neal, D-Las Vegas, has
remained mum on the idea of taxing comps in Nevada. He may, however, resurrect
his bid to hike the top gaming tax rate, which currently stands at 6.25 percent
(New Jersey’s is 8 percent).
days of McGreevey’s proposal, MGM Mirage announced it was temporarily halting
plans for a $1.5 billion casino in Atlantic City.
Redmond added that work on MGM-Boyd
Gaming Borgata project is too far along to change.
“We don’t like to do (comps), but
it’s a competitive market,’’ Sloan explains. “On some of these deals
(with high-rollers), even if you won, you lost.’’
Instead of tapping comps, and
potentially crippling casino marketing, Sloan suggests that Nevada’s
revenue-hunters look at non-gaming businesses that pay no corporate taxes. “If
everyone paid, we’d be rolling in dough,’’ he said.
largest resorts reported the following comp allocations in fiscal 2001*
Does not include comps on wagers, games.