Flags at a crossroads in the debate over a new casino in Flagstaff
Flagstaff, Arizona — A key Senate panel voted Tuesday to allow Nevada to open a casino, a move that could help ease the burden on Flagstaff and other communities grappling with declining gambling revenues.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, voted against allowing the Vegas casino to open, saying that it is in the state’s best interest to keep gambling out of the local economy.
“Our state has seen a tremendous amount of success in this industry in Las Vegas,” he said.
“It has created jobs, and it has contributed to economic growth and increased tax revenues for our state.”
Arizona has been struggling with declining revenues for years, but the state Legislature has largely ignored local concerns.
The Legislature’s top Republican, Republican Gov.
Doug Ducey, had called for a casino in 2016 but that bill died.
The Trump administration is considering a casino project in Phoenix, but that decision hasn’t been finalized.
A spokeswoman for the Arizona Gaming Commission, which regulates casinos in the United States, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Senate Judiciary Committee also voted to allow a Las Vegas casino, which has been approved by a local government, to operate in a hotel.
A casino is the biggest casino industry subsidy in the country, estimated at nearly $400 million in the fiscal year that ended in March, and Nevada Gov.
Brian Sandoval has said he will be supportive of any casino that comes to town.
The Las Vegas Sands Corp. said Tuesday it is investing more than $250 million to build a casino on the Arizona Strip.
Sands is the operator of casinos in Florida, Nevada and Arizona, and has been seeking approval to open new ones in several other states.
It also announced a deal with the MGM Grand to buy a majority stake in a new Vegas hotel, with Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman as a board member.
The hotel is expected to open in 2021.
The vote Tuesday was an important one for some cities, including Flagstaff.
A new casino would create a new tax base and would bring with it a new influx of new visitors, said Chris Rader, president of the Arizona Convention & Visitors Bureau.
It would also increase the number of people coming to Flagstaff to meet with vendors and other visitors, Rader said.
“We need to keep them here, not just in Flagston, but to the surrounding communities,” he added.
The casino would also create jobs, Rimmer said.
And it would create more than enough revenue for Flagstaff’s city and county, which rely on tourism taxes.
“The fact is, Las Vegas has generated so much money that it’s created a tax base, a hotel tax base,” Rimmer added.
“I think that would be the perfect balance.”
A new gambling tax in Flagsthe $30 million needed to open and operate the casino in a casino could help the local government and businesses, but also put more pressure on Flagsthat could hurt the state economy.
The Casino Control Commission, a bipartisan panel that oversees casino operations, said the revenue it gets from casinos depends on how many slots they have in each casino, the number and type of rooms available and how much money the state spends on police, fire, and other safety costs.
In Nevada, the gaming tax has a flat rate of 1.9 percent.
The commission has said the state is on track to meet its fiscal goals and is in good financial shape.
But it said there are concerns about how much the revenue will be used for and how the state will manage a new gaming tax.
A bill to authorize a new gambling industry tax passed the Senate Judiciary panel last month, but stalled in the Republican-led Legislature.
The legislation, authored by Republican Sen. Bill Rauner, R-Ill., was intended to help with the revenue shortfall in Nevada and elsewhere.
The bill has been criticized for its lack of support for the Nevada tourism industry and the need to fund the new casinos.
The Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Program, a state program that funds casino development, has been operating with $4.5 billion in debt, according to a report last month from the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.