Lawyer has tough words for Reno

The head of the American Gaming Association scolded Reno last week for not doing what he says the state's main industry must to grow and survive.

Frank Fahrenkopf is a former Nevada gaming lawyer, who grew up in Reno during the 1950s and '60s.

He told the 19th annual Governor's Conference on Tourism that Nevada faces major challenges from the spread of tribal gaming and casino operations by states that allow established racetracks to add slot and poker machines.

Fahrenkopf said Las Vegas is a success because it continually changes, updates, and expands its attractions. Nevada resorts that offer nothing different from tribal casinos and "Racinos," he said, won't be able to convince tourists to make the trip.

At Reno's convention center, he told an audience of primarily business people that other parts of Nevada continuing to grow as tourist destinations will be to invest in new attractions and expand on existing successes. He said they must make the investments that will keep tourists coming.

Fahrenkopf said Reno has a problem in that area.

"One of the things about Vegas I wish we would do in Reno is reinvent itself every few years," he said.

Fahrenkopf said he drove from the Atlantis at the south end of town north on Virginia Street to a meeting at the University of Nevada, Reno.

"I was sick to my stomach at what I saw," he said -- boarded-up buildings and generally dilapidated sections of what used to be Reno's main street.

"People in Northern Nevada say we don't want to be like Vegas," he said. "Well, I wish there was more of the entrepreneurial spirit in Northern Nevada that they have in Las Vegas."

And he said in Reno, the public sector has stepped forward, expanding and improving the convention center, planning an events center downtown, and lowering the railroad tracks that split downtown in half.

But, he said, most of the hotels and casinos haven't kept up. The only property he had praise for was the Atlantis, which is also Reno's newest hotel-casino property.

Fahrenkopf said Indian casinos really haven't hit the Reno area yet. But several are under construction between Sacramento and Reno which will draw business from South Lake Tahoe and Reno unless those areas update what they have to offer.

He said South Tahoe has an obvious advantage as the "sun and ski" destination with some of the nation's most beautiful scenery.

Of Reno, he said: "This town has to be more creative."


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