Tag Archives: laws

Passage of Travel Promotion Act aims to spur growth into Las Vegas from international visitors

Las Vegas tourism officials believe the federal Travel Promotion Act legislation that was signed into law last week will lead to a marked growth in international visitors, one of the gaming industry’s few positive market segments in the challenging economic climate. 

Under the legislation, signed into law by President Barack Obama, a program will be created that will allow the United States to advertise the country as a destination for international travelers. It creates a public-private partnership for travel promotion that is partly funded by a $10 fee paid by international travelers. 

The idea for the Travel Promotion Act originated from the 1995 White House Conference on Tourism. It was revived after the economic downturn saw the United States lose some 68 million international visitors, which accounted for losses of $509 million in consumer spending, $32 million in tax revenue and 441,000 jobs, according to a study done by Oxford Economics. 

The same study found the act could potentially draw 1.6 million new international visitors to the United States, which would generate $4 billion in new spending.

Las Vegas tourism officials hope to capture some of those visitors and market separately to potential international visitors as well. 

The convention authority estimated the act would increase international visitation to 20 percent of Las Vegas’ total market share. In addition, while Oxford believes the act will be responsible for creating 40,000 tourism jobs nationally, the convention authority estimated an increase in international visitation could create another 12,000 jobs in Southern Nevada.

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Man Gets Legally & Physically Burned at Burning Man

The Nevada Supreme Court has refused to reinstate a lawsuit by a man who approached the flames at the Burning Man festival and got burned. 

The justices voted unanimously on Sept. 16 to deny review of an appeal by Anthony Beninati, who sought damages from the promoter of the annual celebration in the Nevada desert. 

Beninati, a real estate manager from Los Angeles, was badly burned at the September 2005 event in Black Rock City, Nev. He was making his third visit to the weeklong festival, which ends with the torching of a 60-foot wood sculpture. 

Once the Burning Man topples, some participants throw objects into the bonfire.  Beninati approached with the photo of a friend who had recently died in a motorcycle accident. He walked 7 to 10 feet into the burning embers, with flames on either side of him, threw in the photo, took a few more steps forward, then tripped – over a hidden obstacle, he said – and fell into the fire. He was badly burned on his hands and legs and was airlifted to a hospital. 

Beninati’s suit accused Black Rock City LLC, the San Francisco-based promoter, of negligently allowing people to approach the fire without safe pathways. 

In a June 30 ruling, the First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco said anyone who takes part in an event with obvious dangers – downhill skiing, mountain climbing or walking up to a bonfire – knowingly risks injury. 

“The risk of falling and being burned by the flames or hot ash was inherent, obvious and necessary to the event,” the court said in a 3-0 decision that upheld a judge’s dismissal of the suit. 

Evan Marshall, Beninati’s lawyer, said that suits by people injured in risky activities have been dismissed in the past only when the plaintiff was in a dangerous profession, such as law enforcement, or took part in a hazardous sport. 

Marshall further said a jury should have been allowed to decide whether the promoter of a cultural event used reasonable care to protect participants from preventable injuries. 

The case is Beninati vs. Black Rock, S175409.

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New Internet Child Pornography Law in Nevada

On Monday, Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons signed into a law a bill that makes it a felony to intentionally view child pornography with “specific intent” over the Internet.   Before the new law, Nevada could prosecute those who downloaded images into their computer, but not those who just viewed them. 

Under Nevada Assembly Bill 88, a person who intentionally views photographs or films depicting someone younger than 16 in “sexual conduct” is guilty of a felony, punishable by one to six years in prison. 

In addition to these penalties, the new law also allows children used in pornography to file civil lawsuits to recover damages from those who depicted them in films or photos. 

They can recover as much as $150,000 in damages, plus lawyer fees and cost.  The person who filmed or photographed them in pornography does not have to be convicted of a crime before being sued.

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Blowing Smoke May Again Become Fashionable in Las Vegas

Some people in Las Vegas are quick to contend that smoking, bars, and entertainment are inextricably linked together.   After all, how better can one relax?  It’s just the right thing to do, right?smoking

But for almost three years a Nevada voter-approved no-smoking law has been in effect that prohibits smoking in restaurants, bars that serve food, slot machine areas of grocery sorters, arcades and about every public place except the gaming areas of casinos.   Though the law exists, it has very little bit to it, with few even getting a citation.

Now that measure is headed for a legislative showdown.  And when the smoke settles, smokers may just be headed out to light cigs in their favorite watering hole to the delight of bar and tavern owners. 

The Nevada Senate voted 14-5 last Friday to advance bill SB372 that would allow adults to smoke in bars that serve food effective December 9.  The bill is also expected to be received well by the Assembly. 

Business owners contend the smoking ban was responsible for closing 47 bars in Clark County and the loss of hundreds and jobs. They further said profits are off 15 to 50 percent and their customer based has dropped by 25 percent.    

The smoking ban also lost $41 million for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority when a cigar and smokers’ convention moved to New Orleans where patrons could smoke on the convention floor. 

The Nevada Tavern Owners’ Association has further challenged the constitutionality of the smoking ban in an April 6 lawsuit awaiting the Nevada Supreme Court’s decision. 

However, anti-smoking advocates contend that tavern and bar owners are ignoring the fact that the economy has bone into a recession, using the ban as a scapegoat for business failure.    

Adding water to dowse the cigs, opponents say, smoking is just plain deadly, citing studies from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention that show smokers cost the country $96 billion a year in direct health care costs, and an additional $97 billion a year in lost productivity.

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Nevada Lawmakers Aim to Keep State Museums Running

nevadamuseum1On Thursday members of a Senate-Assembly budget panel rejected Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons’ proposed cultural program cuts, saying they want to find funding to keep Nevada’s museums operating at close to current levels as possible. 

Under the governor’s submitted proposal, spending on cultural programs would have been cut nearly 36 percent, to $19.1 million over two years, and staffing would be cut by up to 40 percent. 

The just-renovated East Ely Railroad Depot Museum and Comstock History Center in Virginia City would have been closed, the staff of the Nevada Historical Society would be cut, and other museums would be open only four days per week. 

“Our recommendation [to the governor] was to basically leave them open with a little bit of cut, but keep them operating as much as possible,” said Nevada Assemblyman Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, the budget subcommittee co-chairman. 

To potentially provide some additional Nevada museum funding, the subcommittee rejected the $7.7 million state computer program proposed by Governor Gibbons. 

If the museums remain open, Denis said, revenue from admission costs could also help the crisis. 

Sen. Warren Hardy, R-Las Vegas, also suggested museums review their policies on use of volunteers to provide adequate staffing at facilities. 

Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, said the new Nevada State Museum at the Las Vegas Springs Preserve would have to wait until the 2011 legislative session.   That would mean the earliest the museum could open, according to Denis, would be 2013. 

If budget cuts are approved as is, library hours would be reduced from eight to four per day, staff would be reduced by half, and state library and museum archives could only be accessed by appointment.

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Chalk up one for Las Vegas ‘Adult Entertainment’ Peddlers

Like it or not, peddlers lining the Las Vegas sidewalks, clicking their provocative handbills, and otherwise hawking adult entertainment promotions to passerbys is a part of our historic, colorful fabric, and, for some, this perhaps adds to our alluring mystique.  After all, we are Sin City, right?   handbills

One can regularly see such peddlers on the sidewalks of the Las Vegas Strip, in front of the Las Vegas Convention Center, and many other places around town.  Almost everywhere except for congregating in original Las Vegas, more specifically the Fremont Street Experience.  

Until now. 

A court ruling recently set aside several Las Vegas ordinances that sought to limit such activities at the Fremont Street Experience.  Of course the laws could be once again appealed, but Las Vegas’ colorful Mayor Oscar Goodman, in his last term of office, said recently that it might be time to let the 12-year-old on and off again lawsuit go. 

The Las Vegas City Council will hear its options at an upcoming meeting, he said, and can weigh in on the merits of appealing the decision, trying to craft another set of ordinances or take some other approach. 

Quickly turning the other cheek, though, Mayor Goodman said Las Vegas would staunchly fight anyone who tried to pass out adult material, such as escort advertisements handed out on the Strip. 

“You don’t want to see one of these situations where a man takes his daughter down to Fremont Street to see the light show and has some smut shoved in his daughter’s face,” Goodman said.  “If they use the same aggressive mannerisms that they do out on the Strip, we’re certainly not going to tolerate that.” 

Glitter Gulch, a leading adult entertainment Fremont Street business, is just a stone’s throw away from anyone walking down those same streets. 

The American Civil Liberties Union was quick to challenge the city ordinances on free speech grounds, arguing that bans on passing out literature and advertising or on setting up tables to promote a cause were unconstitutional. 

The case has been winding its slow way through appeals, revised ordinace and more litigations since 1997. 

In enacting such ordinances, Las Vegas city leaders contend that businesses that rent space or kiosks from Fremont Street Experience LLC, which operates the pedestrian mall, needs some protection again people setting up competing sales operations next door for free.

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Red Rock Canyon Preserved in National Landscape Conservation System Bill

Though this bill has nothing to do with the bright lights of Las Vegas, the massive National Landscape redrockConservation System bill has plenty to do with protecting our collective natural heritage for future generations to experience.  

American Indian etchings on the sandstone walls, yucca plants, ancient Joshua trees and more are the beneficiaries when Congress passed this bill that makes Nevada’s three conservation areas, along with its 45 wilderness areas, 62 wilderness study areas, and 26 million acres of public lands in a dozen Western states, all protected in a permanent system. 

The newly enacted bill places natural lands importance on par with the National Park Services system and the National Wildlife Refuge system.  People will soon know what to expect when they visit these areas. 

Although the landscape system was established administratively by President Bill Clinton in 2000 and was kept intact by the Bush administration, it really didn’t have the necessary “teeth” since it didn’t guarantee Congress would make conservation an ongoing priority and fund protection efforts including artifact looting, vandalism, invasive plant and wildlife habitat damage from off-road vehicles and other intrusions, and cultural site and natural resource developments. 

The lands bill passed the Senate in January.  The House then tried to pass it last week by a two-thirds majority but fell two votes short. The Senate then reworked the bill last week and sent it back for reconsideration that passed by a simple majority of the House. 

Red Rock Canyon, located about 30 minutes west of  the Las Vegas Strip,  is one of the crown jewels of the National Landscape Conservation System.  The bill gives the 26-million-acre system in the Western states permanent congressional authorization to ensure its pristine features would remain intact for future generations.

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