And now the obligatory post-Election, What's-it-all-about-Alfie roundup ...
Culinary Union 1, Casino CEOs O: True, the Culinary tripped all over its own feet in the early going, leading to Democratic caucuses that weren't so much "Barackular" as "debacular." But D. Taylor & Co. backed the winning horse and did it early, which earns some chits down the road, plus they have a new Capitol Hill friend in Rep.-elect Dina Titus. Messrs. Lanni, Loveman, Wynn, Adelson and Trump made a variety of presidential wagers, losing every one.
Ameristar Casinos/Pinnacle Entertainment: They wanted a protected oligarchy in Missouri and now they've got it -- and at relatively little additional tax burden to them.
Slot manufacturers: OK, so Ohio and Maine didn't come through and the Missouri market is frozen. But 15K new slots in Maryland ain't chicken feed. Plus a West Virginia casino expansion that flew under the radar got voted in. Inexplicably, slot stocks traded downward. Stupid Wall Street.
Colorado casinos: They didn't so much "win" as get a hefty lifeline thrown to them by Rocky Mountain State voters who approved 20X higher betting limits, 'round the clock operations, and roulette and craps. (No Sen. John McCain sightings in Cripple Creek yet, though.)
Freedom's Watch: So far F-Double-U is 6-9-1 (with Sen. Gordon Smith [R] of Oregon momentarily in the "tie" column) in its top-priority races. I'm feeling generous and crediting the Adelson front group with "wins" in the case of self-destructing Rep. Tim Mahoney (D-FL), who continued the scummy tradition of predecessor Mark Foley, and in that of Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), who faces a December do-over, thanks to Georgia law. And veering off at the last minute to spend money attacking not-up-for-reelection Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)? Adelsonian political acumen at its finest. Winner? Loser? Let's call it a draw.
Poker: Just when it looked like the poker phenomenon was about to jump the shark, we've got a poker-playing president-elect. I dunno if Ms. Pelosi and Messrs. Reid, McConnell and Boehner cotton to hashing out legislation over cigars, booze and a deck of cards, but they'd better get ready for a whole new kind of "smoke-filled room."
Online Poker: Chances for a repeal of the UIGEA suddenly look a lot better.
Karma: Bearing false witness and serial adultery remain very uncool. But multiple felony counts and assorted other financial malfeasances remain A-OK with voters of both parties. (Hint: If Ted Stevens has to be forcibly removed from office, start practicing the phrase "Senator Palin." Kinda trips off the tongue, don't it?)
Gays & Lesbians: Voters in California stuck it to one of Vegas' most loyal constituencies big-time, passing the hateful Proposition 8. Were Nevada not so socially conservative (although compassionate enough to have legalized medical marijuana a ways back), I'd say we should vote for gay nuptials here, then sit back and gloat as the bucks roll in.
Tom Tancredo and ilk: Even if you abhor George W. Bush, you've got to give it up for his ability to rally Hispanic voters to the GOP standard. (I can't speak for Biloxi-Gulfport or Atlantic City, but Las Vegas can't function without its Latino labor base and casino CEOs know this; that's why immigration is their "third rail" of politics.) I always thought the immigration issue would be a non-starter in this election -- and it was. But the Tancredos of the GOP, by ginning it up in both '06 and early '08, antagonized Latinos, scored an own-goal and eradicated the gains Bush made with this voting bloc. So, in lieu of a prolonged post-mortem, maybe Republicans should just burn Tancredo in effigy and then turn the page.
Gaming's GOP influence: The annihilation of GOP moderates at the national level is largely complete, leaving an electoral map that looks a lot like the Confederacy, plus a horseshoe-shaped chunk of the West. Subtract Mississippi, Louisiana and tribal casinos and you've got slim pickings there. Gambling-friendly Republicans like Govs. Haley Barbour (MS) and Charlie Crist (FL) have made progress, but not easily and not without much expenditure of political capital. It's difficult to see where American Gaming Association boss Frank Fahrenkopf goes within his own party when he needs its support. The casino industry's investment in the GOP has yielded scant ROI.
Gov. Jim Gibbons: With state Sens. Joe Heck and Bob Beers, and Rep. Jon Porter all packed off to early retirement by their constituents, Gibbons suddenly has much less to fear from within his own party two years hence. (Ditto Porter's designs on Sen. Harry Reid's [D-NV] seat.)
Rep. Dean Heller (R-NV): If he opts to challenge Reid -- or Gibbons -- he's now the presumptive frontrunner. (I still think "Gov. Oscar Goodman" has a nice ring to it.)
North Las Vegas Mayor Michael Montandon (R): He's laying the groundwork for an intra-party challenge to Gibbons. Montandon's ably managed growth in NLV and would easily trump Gibbons on the "competence" front. The sudden political demise of Beers, Heck and Porter gives him a clear field of fire.
Tourists: Ever hospitable, Clark County voters gave them the finger, by endorsing a 2%-3% hike in the hotel tax. Thankfully, it's just an advisory vote.
Joe the Player: Winner. Clinton-era tax rates are coming back, which may hurt the "whales" but should be good for the rest of us. The Clinton administration coincided with halcyon years of casino growth, especially in Vegas and on the Gulf Coast. The succeeding eight years were dominated by M&A binges, condomania and a narrowing of the Strip's economic appeal toward the monied elite -- the latter being a very sore point among casino consumers. Vegas-wise, which eight years would you choose?
Jon Ozark: This cardboard dummy was wheeled into Nevada Assembly District 21 by local monied interests, to knock off Asm. Bob Beers -- not be confused with the less-hirsute state Sen. Bob Beers -- for having the audacity to stand up against Steve Wynn, he whose name dare not be pejoratively uttered in Carson City. That much having been accomplished, in the general election Ozark discovered once again that it takes more than a pretty face to win. Good luck in your next district, Mr. Ozark. They say the third one's the charm.