“Yer money’s no good here”

By David McKee ~ June 10th, 2010 @ 11:30 am

Update: The “does not accept money from casinos and unions” verbiage was reinstated late today. (It’s way, way, waaaaaaaaaaaaaay down at the bottom of the page. So why is “perception, by voters [of] undue pressure” by casinos a problem? Nevada‘s other leading industry, mining, goes unmentioned. Is “undue pressure” by mining companies preferable to that of casino companies? Alternatively, if hundreds of casino executives write individual donations, does that make gaming money suddenly hunky-dory?

Many Nevadans hate the casino industry with every fiber of their being (sometimes to irrational lengths), so this will probably play in Pioche. Still, it’s unclear why of all industries it’s the one singled out for opprobrium when it is a primary employer in Nevada (177,397 jobs last year) and the only industry to pay a gross-receipts tax, making it indispensable to the state’s ability to function. Big Gaming has had a tough enough struggle to achieve respectability without Ms. Angle using it as a bogeyman, thank you very much.

Sheldon Adelson and labor unions finally have something in common. Nevada senatorial candidate Sharron Angle won’t take money from either of them. Or so she said in version of her Web site that she tried to scrub from the Internet but which left its residue. Since most of her positions are boilerplate stuff, I wonder if the attempt at erasing this Charles Foster Kane-like declaration of principles was done because Angle realizes she’s going to need Daddy Warbucks (i.e., Adelson) and his billfold, rendering her previous anti-casino stance untenable. Either that or she decided “making a basket of commodities (metals, oil etc.) as a basis for maintaining the value of the U.S. currency” was going to be a tough sell.

But, in the words of Charlie Chan, “When money talks, few are deaf,” so I’m going with the Adelson-based theory on this one. Of course, if Adelson really wanted Angle to win he’d bestow his Kiss of Death upon Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) and let the Adelson Curse work its dark magic.

(Wow, Little Orphan Annie, Charlie Chan and Citizen Kane in one S&G post. This blog is so 1939.)

Going from a casino owner who frequently dabbles in politics, we have a politician who dabbles in casinos: Iowa Gov. Chet Culver (D). Despite his desk-pounding demand for “More! More! More!”, the gaming market continues to blow him raspberries. I won’t bore you with a detailed breakdown but the Hawkeye State was -2% in May, with Isle of Capri Casinos properties having some of the worst of it (-5%). Among major operators, Penn National Gaming and Harrah’s Entertainment were “flattish,” the former slightly positive and the latter just barely negative year/year. If four new casinos could open within a year, as was expected (in the end, only one was approved), they’d either be too soon to benefit from an casino-industry recovery in Iowa or more likely nip it in the bud.

To reiterate an old S&G saw, in states where casinos are numerically limited by statute, government is indirectly (and not inconsiderably) responsible for the economic welfare of the industry. In this respect, Culver has been an irresponsible steward.

A busy day. A pileup of “Questions of the Day” and a couple of other story deadlines are looming over my shoulder, so today and possibly tomorrow may be S&G Lite, but I’ll try to slip in a few quickies here and there.

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