Nevada says Tesla’s possible tax breaks stay secret, for now

RENO — The details of any potential tax breaks for Tesla’s $3.6 billion expansion of its Nevada factory will remain secret until late February, under a nondisclosure agreement that state officials signed with the electric carmaker.

The governor’s economic development office will release the tax-abatement request on Feb 27, just three days before the office votes on whether the planned factory expansion is eligible to receive those tax breaks, spokesperson Gregory Bortolin said. He said the nondisclosure agreement means he can’t give exact figures for any possible tax abatements.

Tesla, run by billionaire CEO Elon Musk, intends to produce high volumes of semitrucks and make enough cell batteries for 2 million light-duty vehicles annually in Nevada.

The project was announced last week, and will expand an existing operation at the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center, about 20 miles east of Reno-Sparks along Interstate 80. The plan takes the company a step closer to accomplishing previously announced plans to ramp up production of fully electric Tesla Semi vehicles, in order to make 50,000 trucks in North America in 2024.

The company said it expects to bring 3,000 new jobs to northern Nevada, a key part of Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo’s early plans to diversify the state’s economy.

“Economic development matters,” Lombardo said after announcing the partnership at his state of the state address last week “I’m proud to declare that Nevada is back open for business, effective immediately.”

The Nevada Current first reported the possibility of the new tax abatements.

When Tesla in 2014 announced its first $3.5 billion investment in northern Nevada, the company received about $1.25 billion over 20 years — one of the largest in the country at the time.

At a special legislative session that year, state legislators passed a law that would trigger tax abatements for large development projects. Qualified projects that make $3.5 billion in investments within a 10 year period — such as the Tesla expansion — could be eligible for several abatements.

Tesla benefited over $410 million in tax abatements since 2014, according to the latest latest report by the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.

Bortolin, the agency’s spokesperson, said in a statement that he could not comment on “what might happen going forward,” but stressed that Tesla has invested $6.2 billion in Nevada and created more than 11,000 total jobs.

Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Musk tweeted Tuesday that the company expects the factory to eventually be “almost entirely solar-powered.”

Reports say 2022 was good for Nevada casinos, tourism

LAS VEGAS — The year 2022 was good for gambling and tourism in Nevada, where winnings at casinos statewide set calendar year records and Las Vegas visitor tallies nearly reached levels before the coronavirus pandemic.

“Las Vegas enjoyed a robust recovery trajectory across core tourism indicators in 2022,” the regional Convention and Visitors Authority said in a report summarizing December and year-end visitor volume figures on Tuesday.

“The year closed out with 38.8 million annual visitors,” the report said, up more than 20% from 2021 and down just under 9% from 42.5 million in 2019.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board said separately that 459 large casinos statewide won an all-time high $14.8 billion last year, up more than 23% from calendar year 2019.

That translated to nearly $945 million in taxes and fees for the state, Michael Lawton, board senior analyst said. That’s an increase of about $8 million compared with 2021 and up almost 25% from $758 million in pre-pandemic 2019.

The figures are important, because casino taxes make up about 17% of state revenues, second only to sales taxes in a state that has no personal income tax.

A 10-year bar chart of what the board terms “casino win” figures shows steady annual increases since 2013, except in 2020 when all casinos and many other businesses statewide were closed from mid-March to early June 2020.

December marked the 22nd consecutive month that casinos reported at least $1 billion in winnings, which is an unprecedented stretch, Lawton said.

“We’re still feeling the effects of pent-up demand from COVID, as well as overall growth of interest,” said Brett Abarbanel, executive director of the International Gaming Institute at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

“Our entertainment mix has grown through COVID and beyond,” she said, citing, “sports, shows, concerts, and of course, gambling.”

Convention attendance has also been recovering in Las Vegas, the visitors authority said. It counted just under 5 million people at conferences and trade shows in 2022, or about three‐quarters of the 2019 tally of 6.6 million convention attendees.

Lawton noted that a large, new gambling property opened in Nevada in 2022: Legends Bay Casino in Sparks. Several businesses closed, including the Tahoe Biltmore Lodge & Casino, and the Fiesta, Texas Station and Fiesta Henderson properties in the Las Vegas area.

Table-game winnings statewide of $4.8 billion topped the previous record of $4.4 billion set in 2007, Lawton said. House winnings from blackjack and other card games, baccarat, craps and roulette were all higher in 2022 than in 2021.

Casino sports books set a new record last year, winning almost $447 million statewide on $8.7 billion in wagers, Lawton said. In 2021, those figures were $445 million and $8.1 billion.

Sports wagers made using mobile apps accounted for more than 68% of sports wagers statewide, up from 65% last year, Lawton added.

Abarbanel, at UNLV, attributed rapid growth in online sports betting to a “novelty effect” as more states allow internet bets and aggressive advertising by legal betting companies.

“Typically, this novelty effect plateaus after a while,” she observed, adding that current levels of advertising have prompted some states to make what she termed “regulatory changes that tighten up their original plans.”

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