Gaming restrictions may be eased

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Prospective casino owners in Carson City may not have to build 100 hotel rooms after all, as long as they can show "economic benefits" instead of actual rooms.

City supervisors will consider today an amendment that would extend the timeline for current gaming-license rules and allow for an appeal to the 100-room requirement, two components that were missing from the original ordinance.

Even after passage of the gaming restrictions in February, supervisors had expressed concerns the legislation did not contain the extended application timeline, as expected. The amendment, if passed, will allow gaming licenses applications to be filed under the old rules until Aug. 1.

"This just clarifies it," said city Treasurer Al Kramer, sponsor of the ordinance. "The was no desire to limit (the application period) originally."

Also with the amendment, applicants for unrestricted gaming licenses will be able to show they can provide "economic benefits" instead of actual hotel rooms.

The proposed change allows a license to be granted with "an investment in tourism-related infrastructure equivalent to that of 100 hotel rooms, or an annual economic benefit equivalent to that which would have been achieved by 100 hotel rooms."

Examples of alternative tourist-related investments include "parking garage, golf course, convention center or a visitor attraction facility such as a museum, amusement park, science center, etc.," according to the legislation.

Joe Masini, one-third owner of Bodine's Restaurant and an outspoken opponent of the original draft, said the amendment shows an effort by the commission to add a measure of equity to the process.

Masini had argued to the board the original ordinance would severely hurt property values by taking away the gaming option for many parcels.

"It's still not what we want, but they are trying to be responsive," he said.

"Now we have to go out and get (an unrestricted license), which we don't want. Then we have to keep it current." The investigative process by the state's Gaming Commission can cost an applicant tens of thousands of dollars.

Supervisors Robin Williamson, Jon Plank and Pete Livermore, who voted for the 100-room requirement in February, said it will raise the bar for casino development.

Board members who originally endorsed the idea said it would attract first-class hotel/casino properties to Carson City by restricting the ability of competitors to "siphon" business with low-startup slot arcades. The ordinance was backed by the Carson City Gaming Association.

Critics, however, said the new rule was simply a way to protect existing casinos from competition.

If you go:

What: Carson City Board of Supervisors meeting

When: 8:30 a.m., Thursday

Where: the Community Center's Sierra Room, 851 E. William St.


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