Vegas Gaming Distance Amendment Allows Casino Near School

  • An amendment made to Senate Bill 266 allows a Las Vegas casino to be built closer to an elementary school.
  • The amendment creates an exception for an interstate highway to serve as a buffer between casinos and schools or religious buildings.
  • The amended bill passed without discussion in either legislative chamber.

LAS VEGAS – A 26-year-old law that restricted casinos to be placed within 1,500 feet of schools or places of worship was changed without public discussion. An amendment to Senate Bill 266 passed on June 4, allowing Red Rock Resorts to build a casino development closer to a Las Vegas elementary school.

Red Rocks Resort is the clear benefactor of the decision, as the gaming company plans to develop a gaming enterprise district on Cactus Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard.

The amendment to Senate Bill 266 allows Interstate 15 to serve as a buffer between the planned casino location and Dennis Ortwein Elementary School, located within 1,500 feet of each other. The original contents of SB 266 prevented casinos from being constructed within that range of any school or place of worship.

The exemption only applies if the proposed development of 20 or more continuous acres is located on Las Vegas Boulevard.

Michael Britt, Spokesman of the Red Rocks Resort, argued that 80% of the 125-acre plot of the planned casino site is farther than 1,500 feet away from the elementary school, with the remaining portion separated by I-15 in Las Vegas.

The exception-creating amendment was introduced and adopted on June 4 in the Las Vegas Assembly, passing with a 40-2 vote just a day later. Senate approved the amended bill and Governor Joe Lombardo signed it with no discussion held in either chamber.

The quick legislative operation flew under the radar, but the 1997 law has long been debated against for slowing down Nevada development. Especially considering competition from online gambling sites, Red Rocks Resorts will greatly benefit from the legislative changes that grant them building rights on the entire 125-acre plot.