Gamers reaping millions of dollars in tax breaks because of old property tax cap

During a time when state lawmakers are looking for more money, major gaming companies are enjoying the benefits of an anachronistic state law that grants $100 million in property tax breaks in Clark County.

Public records show those benefiting are led by Wynn Las Vegas, which enjoys a $6.3 million tax break, easily outdistancing the $3.8 million abatement given to the second luckiest taxpayer, The Fontainebleau, which, by the way, is not open.

The rest of the top 15, listed below, are all million-dollar winners and all gaming/resort related.  Those 15 get about a third of all of the tax abatements in Clark County.

(I will provide more of the list and more analysis/data for premium subscribers to this site on Sunday.)

The numbers are staggering and startling:

In Clark County, half of the discounts, or $50 million, are being doled out to 79 parcels, records indicate. To put this in context, there are more than 700,000 parcels in Southern Nevada, so half of the tax breaks are going to one thousandth of a percent of properties.

Hello, unintended consequences? Or are they?

These tax breaks are costing local governments – and to a lesser degree, the state – a lot of money every year. For instance, the Clark County School district (UPDATED) lost $18 million in fiscal 2013 because of this and is projected to lose $45 million in fiscal 2014.

I can imagine some politician saying: So the Strip folks get to keep their millions while kids are in bigger classrooms, schools need portables and the district can’t hire enough teachers?

A politician in a fantasy world, I mean, of course.

This all came about because lawmakers, responding to fears of a Howard Jarvis-like revolution as property values and taxes soared, passed a cap in 2005. There were questions then about its legality, but it continues to exist today, long after the boom has busted.

And while average folks don’t get much of the benefit  -- about 100,000 Clark County taxpayers get breaks of less than $100 a year – the gamers are reaping a windfall.

I won’t even mention all of the tax breaks these Strip properties also are receiving from the green-building law that was passed by lawmakers.

If people knew that Steve Wynn, Sheldon Adelson, Donald Trump and Carl Icahn were getting multimilliondollar tax breaks while regular folks were being foreclosed upon, there might be a revolution.

Don’t worry: I won’t tell.



1 Wynn Las Vegas $6.3 million
2 Fontainebleau $3.8 million
3 South Point $3.3 million
4 Venetian/Palazzo $2.7 million
5 Planet Hollywood $2.6 million
6 Trump Towers $1.6 million
7 Vdara $1.5 million
8 Caesars Palace $1.4 million
9 Red Rock Resort $1.4 million
10 Riviera $1.4 million
11 Mandalay Bay $1.2 million
12 Tropicana $1.1 million
13 Monte Carlo $1.1 million
14 Paris $1.1 million
15 Venetian Grand Canal Shopes $1.1 million


(Image from