Assesor Lowers Hotel-Casino Property Values

Tax System Report
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A dozen Reno-area hotel-casinos are getting some big tax breaks in this year's county appraisal, reflecting a slide in the county's gambling revenues over the past four years.

The county assessor's office has trimmed the valuation by $113 million, $72.9 million of it in downtown Reno.

If the writedown is not offset by new projects, the Reno Redevelopment Agency will lose $810,000 in property taxes, one-third of its $2.5 million general fund expected for the new budget starting July 1.

The Sparks Redevelopment Agency will lose $300,000 in property taxes next year because the value of John Ascuaga's Nugget has been cut from $110 million to $70 million. The agency said room taxes this year that more than offset the loss.

Mark Stafford, a commercial appraiser in the county assessor's office, said the cuts in casino taxable values this year reflect a trend of decline of the casino industry. Last year, almost $128 million in Washoe County casino values was written off.

Gaming executives and analysts say casino values used for setting property taxes still may not have hit bottom.

The 2004 tax values are based on casino operations for the year that ended June 30 and don't reflect the siphoning of business from the opening of the Thunder Valley Indian casino and the expanded Cache Creek near Sacramento.

The two California casinos are doing at least $500 million a year and some of that business once went to Washoe County, according to local gaming analysts Ken Adams and Don McGhie.

"No chains required" is the message on current Thunder Valley billboards, McGhie said.