Gay Tourists Abandon The Strip?

MGM and Harrahs have spent years marketing to gay consumers -- and both companies fear gay tourism to Vegas will plummet if Gov. Jim Gibbons makes good on his promise to veto the state's domestic-partner benefits bill.

BY Advocate.com Editors

May 21 2009 12:00 AM ET

For years, Harrah's Entertainment, MGM Mirage, and a number of other Nevada companies have courted gay and lesbian tourists -- but if Nevada governor Jim Gibbons sticks to his promise to veto a domestic-partner benefits bill that is making its way to his desk, will Silver State tourism suffer the loss of the almighty gay dollar?

On Tuesday, Harrah's Entertainment senior vice president Jan Jones wrote an impassioned letter to state lawmakers that stressed the importance of gay tourism to Nevada's economy. The letter urged that gay tourists could abandon Nevada's casinos, clubs, and restaurants in droves if the legislation fails.

"Our state cannot afford to lose any more revenue to other destinations because of a reputation as a place which is not socially or politically the right place to do business or to vacation," Jones stated in the letter, dated Tuesday.

"Most of the legislators have answered," Jones told The Advocate on Wednesday. "Some have said 'We're with you,' and some have said, 'Nice to hear from you.' We just believe we have to keep the pressure up. There's no reason not to support it, it doesn't mandate employers provide certain benefits."

Harrah's -- which owns casinos on the Strip including Caesars Palace, Bally's, the Flamingo, and Paris, and the popular Strip-adjacent Rio -- is one of Nevada's largest employers, and the company provides health care benefits to partners of its employees.

Tags: Politics

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