|Las Vegas Tribune
November 25, 1998
By Steve Miller
The National Gambling Impact Study Commission hearings told both sides of the gaming story.
The "Gaming Incorporated" side was represented by every big name in the state who is interested in spreading competitive-to-Nevada gaming across the nation.
The other viewpoint: the "quarantine gambling into Nevada and New Jersey" side was represented by a few of the bravest Nevadan's ever assembled into one room.
After sitting through the droning of the likes of Al Feldman, Bob Miller, John O'Reilly, and countless others who propagated the wonders of spreading casinos from coast to coast, it was refreshing to hear the common sense of Senator Joe Neal, University Regent Nancy Price, businessman Otis Harris, author David Sklansky, and attorney Chuck Gardner.
I was given the honor of selecting the above mentioned common sense panelists. Because of their mettle, the Commission was able to hear both sides of the gambling story. Not that these brave souls did not take a verbal beating! The "Shoot the messenger" tactic was used again and again, especially by MGM Grand manager Terry Lanni against Chuck Gardner. Thank goodness, Mr. Gardner knew he was on very solid ground and did not flinch when Lanni childishly tried to wiggle out of being responsible for the private sidewalk issue by attempting to publicly embarrass Gardner instead of taking responsibility for the ongoing inequity.
I am also very pleased with the fact that I was given the opportunity to show all aspects of our community to the Commission Chairwoman, her staff, representatives of the national media, and other Commissioner's staff members. The Commissioners were treated to a vaguely similar tour given by Steve Wynn, Bob Miller, and Jan Jones, showing Las Vegas through rose colored glasses.
Those taking my tour described it as being much more objective -- showing that the local casinos have a lot more to do to become socially responsible corporate citizens in our town.
The story that Gaming Inc. really wanted to hype to the commission was that Nevada's gaming regulation is so good that every other state that is inviting Nevada corporations to invest in their downtowns should duplicate Nevada's gaming laws within their borders. Well, of course, those who want to keep gaming confined to Nevada and New Jersey took exception.
Many long time Las Vegans took offense that our so-called public officials were using our town, our state, and our gaming regulations as a model for extra-Nevada competition. Even outgoing Governor Bob Miller admitted that he is about to take a high paying job as a Washington, DC lobbyist for the gaming expansion movement. What ever happened to loyalty?
Then something unexpected occurred. Bob Stupak arrived on the scene. Bob asked me to introduce him to the Reverend Tom Grey, the Executive Director of the National Coalition Against Gambling Expansion. Bob and Rev. Grey struck up an immediate friendship, possibly because the Reverend became a skilled poker player while biding away countless hours in the jungles of Vietnam while he was a Captain in the U.S. Special Forces.
Well, the rest is Las Vegas history. Bob Stupak donated a $5000 Horseshoe chip to Rev. Grey, knowing full well that Binion's had inexplicably stopped honoring their own chips. Rev. Grey knew about the Horseshoe's weird actions and saw a splendid opportunity to turn the "Use Nevada's gaming regulation as your model" hype around on the gaming expansionists.
In the meantime, Gaming Inc. pushed the panic button! Their ace in the hole--Nevada's gaming regulation model -- was falling apart right before their eyes. They wondered out loud "How can we push casinos into every little berg in America if we can't even keep our own Nevada casinos honest?" This story is still in the making.
While all this was going on, the "Shoot the messenger" routine used by the casino spin-doctors were to paint others and myself as "Anti-gaming!" I'm sorry that I have not had ample time to counteract their propaganda -- until now. On my own behalf, I prepared the following Letter to the Editor, and presented it to every newspaper in Nevada this week. I hope that it makes my position clear.
"I am not 'anti gaming' as I am being mislabeled by gaming company spin
I have lived in Las Vegas for forty years. I have been very successful
My efforts are solely intended to slow or curtail the spread of gaming
It sickens me to see public officials join with greedy casino owners intent on building competitive casinos outside Nevada. Their corporate bottom lines may benefit, but what about those of us who do not own stock in their companies? We still have to live here while our out of state customers will be enticed to gamble closer to their homes.
I will continue my efforts along with Tom Grey to do everything in my power to embarrass and discourage the expansion proponents in their efforts outside Nevada. Remember, their outside investments are being financed with money made on the backs of Nevada's working people. I believe that these businesses should be investing here in our own downtowns, before trying to use us as their model."