Poll's results buoy senator seeking casino tax increase

State Sen. Joe Neal says he's encouraged by new poll numbers showing strong support for his petition to raise taxes on big casinos, and hopes the poll will help reinvigorate the petition drive in rural Nevada.

''I think it bodes well for what we're attempting to do and shows that the message - in terms of gaming not paying its fair share - has become clear,'' Neal, D-North Las Vegas, said Monday.

A poll of likely voters conducted for the Las Vegas Review-Journal and lasvegas.com found that 63 percent support a petition by Neal that would raise the tax on gross casino revenue from 6.25 percent to 11.25 percent.

The tax would apply only to casinos with gambling revenues of $1 million or more per month and would raise about $388 million a year to pay for public education and pollution programs.

To force the Legislature to consider the tax when it meets next year, Neal must get the signatures of at least 44,009 registered voters by Nov. 14, equal to 10 percent of the number of people who voted in the previous election. The petition must be signed by at least 10 percent of voters in three-fourths of Nevada counties.

Neal said he hopes the poll results will invigorate his efforts to get signatures in rural and northern areas of the state, where participation has not been as strong as in Clark County.

''Now we have some evidence of what people think of this particular issue, I think we're going to step up our efforts,'' he said.

Without an organized group helping him gather signatures, Neal is relying on a loose network of volunteers to push his crusade. But volunteer recruitment has lagged in some rural areas, and that has produced a shortfall in signatures.

''We didn't have the number of people that we thought we were going to get,'' Neal said.

But he remains optimistic about meeting the state's deadline. ''We know that we have to file by November 14, and we hope to beat that deadline by a few days,'' he said. ''We don't want to be filing something on the 14th.''


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