Gaming industry, saying its participation has "has often caused resentment and polarization," will stay on tax debate sidelines

With memories of the failed gross receipts tax the industry pushed still fresh a decade later, the gaming industry's lobbying arm has announced it will "not take an active role or position" in the Carson City tax debate.

For now, at least.

The Nevada Resort Association, responding to my request for its position, released a statement to me that clearly indicates that the 2003 tax debate, with the gamers driving a tax train that went off the tracks, is affecting its strategy 10 years later. For those who were not there, the backlash against the gamers, who were seen to be guiding Gov. Kenny Guinn and lawmakers, was intense and acrimonious.

With the 2013 Democratic leaders still not sure what they will do -- or even if they are united this time around -- I'm sure the industry saw no upside in taking an active role. (I don't guess there is any consensus among the Strippers to back the margins tax, which has little support, or a sales tax on services, which may not accomplish what the gamers have long sought -- getting big businesses that are not them to pay more.)

So this what we have in the second week of the 77th session -- the gamers in an unfamiliar role with orders apparently coming from Berne.

Here's the statement:

The Nevada Resort Association has participated in nearly every tax and revenue discussion in a sincere attempt to work with Nevada's elected and business leaders for the past several decades. Resort industry leaders believed that, as our state's largest employer, we were obliged to engage in any effort aimed at improving our schools, public health, infrastructure etc. In nearly every case, the industry accepted its responsibility to address the needs of our state and absorbed tax increases. There have been increases in gaming taxes, three increases in room tax the past 15 years, sales tax, live entertainment tax and, of course, property tax to pay for bonds for roads, schools and other needed public capital projects.

However, in the recent past, our business community, elected bodies, and indeed our state, have become fractured and fragmented. Our participation, while welcome by some, has often caused resentment and polarization.

Therefore, representatives of the resort association will provide information and monitor this important public debate, but, at this point, will not take an active role or a position. We believe these important issues must be debated thoroughly and publicly by our elected representatives.

If a legislative proposal is introduced, we will review and react accordingly. We continue to believe Nevada needs a more stable and predictable revenue system. We continue to believe that the current business tax, the MBT, is a disincentive to hiring, and we will strongly oppose any effort that targets any single industry or business segment in our state.