State gambling regulators grant casinos tax refunds

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LAS VEGAS (AP) — State gambling regulators granted 13 casino-hotels a tax refund worth at least $700,000 total after the properties overpaid Nevada's live entertainment tax.

The Nevada Gaming Commission approved the settlement agreements Thursday with the casino-hotels in The Cosmopolitan, Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino, Paris, Bally's, Caesars Palace, Harrah's Casino Hotel, The Linq Hotel and Casino, Flamingo and Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Harvey's Resort in Lake Tahoe and Harrah's Casino Hotel in Laughlin and Reno.

The exact amount of the refund was not immediately available but commissioners and the Gaming Control Board's chair described it as being worth at least $700,000.

"This is a pretty serious number," said Commissioner Randolph Townsend during Tuesday's meeting. He wanted to ensure the commission gave the Legislature a heads up since the legislative session begins next week and the amount might represent "a little hole in their pocket."

Gov. Brian Sandoval has proposed a $7.3 billion budget that includes tax increases to cover expected shortfalls in gaming and mining tax revenue.

The Gaming Control Board's auditing staff works with casino-hotels to reconcile the amount of taxes owed per the live entertainment tax.

Townsend said after the meeting that the amount certainly doesn't represent "the end of the world" to the budget but it was important that the numbers all align.

He said the tax has become a challenging one for both auditors to track and casino-hotels to know what they need to pay for when defining live entertainment.

Depending on the number of slots a casino has and the maximum number of attendees to a live show, a casino could be exempt from paying or end up paying 5 percent on each admission or 10 percent on tickets, food, beverages and merchandise.

Lawmakers, regulators and casino-hotels have been attempting to clarify what is and isn't exempt from the tax.

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