Trumping the Donald
From the 2-10-00 Reno News & Review
Downtown Reno casino magnate Don Carano's Jan. 6 Reno News & Review interview must not stand unchallenged.
He asserted that "we've never had a union in the Eldorado." That certainly came as news to a lot of union workers who built large portions of the enterprise. Mr. Carano certainly knows that union workers constructed the cavernous skyways from the Eldorado to the Silver Legacy. He knows that the Silver Legacy was an almost 100% union-built project.
Nevada trade unionists were shocked to learn of Mr. Carano's remarks. They have considered him a fair employer of union workers and have made it a point to schedule major organized labor events at his properties.
Mr. Carano says he would fight any unionization attempt "absolutely. We have in the past." He's apparently not planning any major construction soon.
Like other gambling operators, Mr. Carano decries the initiative petition by Sen. Joe Neal, D-North Las Vegas, to raise the gross gaming tax. Nevada casinos have long enjoyed the world's lowest levies. Whatever they pay becomes a fully deductible expense on a federal income tax return. A third of gross gaming revenues are returned to the industry in the form of corporate welfare subsidies from tax-funded convention authorities and downtown redevelopment agencies.
While he may not pay for it, his facilities will certainly enjoy the benefits of taxpayer-funded improvements right at his front door: a new convention center between his properties and the tax-funded National Bowling Stadium, all interconnected by skywalks to nearby hotels.
Mr. Carano expresses concern over competition from California tribal casinos. At the same time, he looks to invest in such enterprises, as are many of his peers.
"We're looking for opportunities to join Native American tribes in Northern California," Silver Legacy General Manager Gary Carano told the Las Vegas Sun last October.
This is the equivalent of General Motors opening factories in Mexico while downsizing Detroit.
As a way of justifying the industry's continued preferred Nevada tax status, Don Carano told RN&R that "the money is continually put back in capital improvements. Now I don't think Las Vegas or any of these facilities in Reno would have been built with (Neal's) type of tax."
Publicly available income data lead to a different conclusion. Calculated very conservatively, Mr. Carano's two major properties net about $72 million per year after accounting for all expenses and improvements, ample cash flow for leverage into local or California expansion.
Sen. Neal just wants a little more left at home.
You'd think casinos might want to share a piece of the action with their workers before employees start talking to all those union customers about how to organize. Especially before they call Sen. Neal about signing his petition.
Be well. Raise hell.
© Andrew Barbano
Andrew Barbano is a member of Communications Workers of America Local 9413 and editor of U-News, where the past three years of columns may be accessed. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks Tribune since 1988. This column appeared in the Reno News & Review on 2/10/00.
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