'Comp' Case Response Sought

The Nevada Supreme Court, asked by the state to reconsider its March ruling that favored John Ascuaga's Nugget in Sparks in a major tax refund case, has called for a response from the Nugget's attorney.

In a 1-paragraph order, the high court said an answer by late June from attorney John Bartlett "will assist the court in resolving the issues presented" in the rehearing petition filed by Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto.

Deputy Attorney General Gina Session said in the state's petition, filed in mid-April, that the Supreme Court's ruling that favored the Nugget could have "devastating" fiscal consequences if it stands.

The Nugget case could require a refund of more than $1 million in use taxes based on the value of food given to patrons or employees as "comps." Since the food was given away, the Supreme Court said the taxes weren't due.

Many other major hotel-casinos, including some Las Vegas "megaresorts" with "comped" food budgets far bigger than the
Nugget's, have filed similar claims for refunds. None of those cases has gone through the court system as the Nugget case has.

Taxation Director Dino DiCianno has said that refund requests from nearly 100 hotel-casinos total nearly $100 million, with interest included. The tax revenue was collected by both state and local governments.

If the Supreme Court won't reconsider its ruling, the state could still get a break if some of the claimants don't press immediately for refunds. Bartlett has said the Nugget is "willing to sit down and talk" to ensure the state isn't harmed even more during the current economic downturn.