100-room hotels

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In the history of Carson City, only one casino has opened with at least 100 hotel rooms -- the Ormsby House.

On Thursday, city supervisors stand ready to approve an ordinance that would prohibit anything less.

The theory behind the ordinance, proposed by Treasurer Al Kramer, is to encourage development of large hotel-casinos. How it will do that is beyond us.

Only one business currently open in Carson City would meet the criteria -- the Pinon Plaza, which now has 148 rooms. But it opened without a single room, and then built 64 in 1998.

So who's knocking down the doors to build 100-room hotel-casinos in Carson City? Nobody.

Who has decided not to build a 100-room hotel-casino in Carson City because of the lack of a city ordinance setting a miminum standard? Nobody.

The idea that slot parlors draw away tourists from hotel-casinos is absurd. When was the last time you drove even as far as Reno with out-of-town guests to sit down in a slot parlor? You were far more likely to take them to the Peppermill, or Atlantis, or downtown.

Let's call this ordinance what it is -- an act to protect the existing gaming businesses in Carson City. It does nothing to attract quality lodging, and in fact would tend to discourage it.

Do supervisors mean to tell us a casino developer who proposes a 99-room hotel will be turned down? How about an 80-room hotel? A 60-room hotel?

In general, it seems unwise to make artificial requirements on new businesses. It's like compelling any new fast-food restaurant to also build a park.

In this case, though, the requirement for 100-room hotels is wholly arbitrary. If supervisors insist that existing casino properties need protecting, they should at least lower the standard for competition to something reasonable -- such as 40 rooms.

Still, the best alternative remains to allow the free market to determine at what level a business can succeed in Carson City, and at what level it fails.


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