Nevada Gaming And School Support Tax Increase Petitions Move to State Legislature

Posted on: December 22, 2020, 08:14h. 

Last updated on: December 22, 2020, 09:27h.

A petition to raise the Nevada gaming tax rate to 9.75 percent on casinos that generate at least $250,000 in monthly gross gaming revenue (GGR) is moving to the state legislature. A second initiative seeks to raise the Local School Support Tax by 1.5 percentage points.

Nevada gaming tax casino Clark County school
Clark County school officials want to increase the Nevada gaming tax on large casinos to reduce class sizes and lure in recruit teachers to the state. (Image: Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Last week, county officials verified 148,605 signatures submitted in support of the “Nevada Gaming Tax Increase on Monthly Revenue Above $250,000 Initiative.” Officials also verified 137,791 signatures for the “Sales Tax Increase for Public Schools Initiative.”

The two efforts are respectively funded and led by the Nevadans for Fair Gaming Taxes and Clark County Education Association (CCEA).

Indirect initiated state statutes — meaning initiatives sponsored by the public — require signatures equal to at least 10 percent of the total votes cast in the most recent general election. Signature gathering must additionally be distributed equally over the state’s four congressional districts.

For the 2022 ballot, 97,598 validated signatures are needed. With more than enough public support, the two tax increase initiatives now move to the Carson City capital.

The Nevada Legislature will consider the initiatives during their 2021 session, which is set to begin in February. If state lawmakers and Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) do not approve of the initiatives, they will move to the 2022 ballot for public consideration.

‘Can Contribute More’

With enrollment totaling nearly 327,000, the Clark County School District is the nation’s fifth-largest school district. School officials have long asked the Nevada Legislature for better funding to educate K-12 Nevadans.

Our school system statewide is ranked last in the country in funding,” said CCEA Executive Director John Vellardita. “Our classrooms are the largest in the country, so this money would go towards reducing class size. It would go towards the type of resources and books needed in the classroom, as well as getting teachers out here.”

Currently, GGR taxes are based on a gradual scale:

  • 3.5 percent on GGR not exceeding $50,000 per month
  • 4.5 percent on GGR between $50,001 to $134,000 per month
  • 6.75 percent on GGR exceeding $134,000 per month

The proposed gaming tax initiative would create a new tax tier, with a 9.75 percent rate imposed on gaming facilities generating GGR of $250,000 or more in a month.

“We think that gaming can contribute more to the state,” Vellardita added. “It has the lowest tax in the country, and even with this increase, it still would be below the national average.”

Casinos in Opposition

The Nevada Resorts Association (NRA) opposes the gaming tax proposal. The gaming industry advocacy group says the effort comes at the worst of times, as Nevada casinos continue struggling in wake of COVID-19.

As Nevada’s largest industry and economic engine continues to do all it can to recover and bring employees back to work, now is not the time to target the resort industry with a 44 percent tax increase that would further damage Nevada’s recovery efforts, create permanent job losses, and further jeopardize capital investment and future economic development,” the NRA said in a release.

Vellardita disagrees.

“We don’t think it will hurt the industry,” he opined. “We think the public supports it.”