Waking up to Black Tuesday

Known popularly as Super Tuesday, today may well go down as Black Tuesday for Northern Nevada's gaming industry.

There's no reason to think California voters won't give the green light in elections today to significant expansion of casino gambling by Indian tribes in that state.

One forecast says Indian gaming would suck up 7 percent of Nevada's $8 billion annual gaming revenues, which is a troubling thought. But it must be considered three times as scary that Reno could lose 21 percent and Lake Tahoe 15 percent of its revenues.

The biggest players - some of whom are hedging their bets by investing in Indian casinos in California - won't be hit like the smaller establishments, as well as the tourism-based businesses that depend on Nevada's casino to bring their customers to them.

The reality is that Northern Nevada has been napping when it comes to broad-based tourism. Instead of sheep, we have been counting the steady stream of gamblers as they leap over the state line and allowed ourselves to be lulled to sleep.

Wednesday morning, when the votes are all tallied, it will be time to wake up.

Lake Tahoe, Virginia City, the Black Rock Desert - they are tourist magnets we take for granted. While many people work to try to publicize Nevada and its attractions, it has largely been left to the casinos to bring in the people. The rest of us have generally been along for the ride.

Again, we see opportunities like reconstruction of the Virginia & Truckee Railroad struggle to get attention - let alone money. Broad-based tourism? Family attractions? One-week stays instead of a couple of nights in a casino hotel room?

Why would we be interested in promoting that kind of tourism? The casinos will bring in the revenue, provide the jobs, spend the money on advertising and provide a tax-revenue base, won't they?

Sure they will. But after today, they'll be doing it for not only Nevada but its No. 1 competitor, as well.


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