Despite an implictly critical statement from the gaming industry lobbying arm, the Las Vegas Sands is backing the six GOP senators who want to take mining taxation out of the state Constitution and create a new levy on the industry.
"We told (Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson) we support the idea," Sands lobbyist Robert Uithoven told me this morning. "Obviously no one is supportive of singling out a major industry. But we also know and understand that mining is never singled out because it cannot be singled out. Until mining can face the same scrutinty every other industry faces, it presents an uneven playing field. For that reason, we support the senator’s proposal."
Uithoven added that if mining "didn’t have this blanket protection, it might be a different story. It is very easy for them to say, 'Don’t single us out when you can’t single them out.' I think this will provide a level playing field."
Sands government affairs boss Andy Abboud added: "We do not support tax increases. A margins tax increase is bad for Nevada and bad for our economic recovery. We also do not feel that any industry should be singled out for 'special treatment.' And right now there is only one industry that has special protection. So we welcome and support the idea of Senator Roberson's proposal so all options are on the table for discussion."
The Sands position contradicts the NRA's, which I obtained Tuesday:
As in the past the gaming industry has concerns about any industry-specific tax. Revenues from gaming taxes currently comprise 46% of the state's general fund. We believe that tax reform policy should focus on solutions that are broad based, stable, and sustainable given the fragile recovery we are experiencing.