Credit card law transformed women’s opportunities

Credit card law transformed women’s opportunities

I would be surprised if I didn’t use my credit card every week.

I like the convenience and building Southwest miles for free flights.

I pay it off every month. I owe that ritual to my parents. They taught me the importance of doing so, to not build debt. A few times in my life I carried a balance, but it quickly got paid off.

“Who cares?” you ask.

Women care.

It was 50 years ago that the Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1974 became law. Prior to that for a woman to obtain a credit card or loan either her husband, father or brother had to be a co-signer.

That’s in my lifetime.

Unbelievable.

Tanaka Chimbane, an accredited financial counselor and assistant professor of personal financial planning at Texas Tech University, told U.S. News and World Report, “It marked a monumental shift in how women could engage with the economy and opened new avenues for personal and professional growth. Access to credit meant that women could start businesses, buy homes, invest in education and manage financial emergencies independently.”

It just shows how long women have been treated as second-class citizens. That we had to be dependent on a man. That we could not be trusted with financial matters.

What BS.

I got my first credit card when I was 17. Yes, my parents were involved. I got it because I was on my way to college. It had a credit limit of $500. I remember this because after trying to charge my books I hit the limit.

My memory is that a friend of my parents worked for Bank of America and got me the Visa. He also got my limit raised.

This card was in my name. It was mine. I was responsible for paying it. (Yes, my parents paid for my books and four of my five years of college.)

But I was building credit in my name. I didn’t understand that at 17 or even at 22 when I graduated. I do now. Still, I can’t get over that it took an act of Congress to give the same rights to women that men had.

Cost of Caldor Fire in the billions as recovery continues

Cost of Caldor Fire in the billions as recovery continues

Trails near South Lake Tahoe less than a year after the 2021 Caldor Fire. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

While no entity has put an exact dollar figure on the financial toll of the Caldor Fire, it is in the billions of dollars. That number keeps growing as restoration efforts continue.

El Dorado County reports its costs to date are $16.3 million. This was for employees responding to the fire and recovery afterward, mutual aid, equipment and supplies. It has been reimbursed about $12.6 million by the state and FEMA.

It’s been reported the structural damage amounted to $1.2 billion, which includes the total loss of 1,005 homes or other buildings, with another 81 damaged. The town of Grizzly Flats was incinerated, and Sierra-at-Tahoe ski resort incurred significant damage.

Gov. Gavin Newsom in his request to President Biden for financial aid in September 2021 wrote, “The projected economic loss in South Lake Tahoe is estimated to reach nearly $40 million due to the Caldor Fire.”

The U.S. Forest Service says suppression costs came in at $271.1 million for the fire that started Aug. 14, 2021, and was contained Oct. 20.

There are other losses without a price tag—like the animals who died and the air that was polluted. And how does one quantify the death of Harminder Singh Grewal, the Galt police officer who died in a head-on collision on his way to the Caldor Fire? Then there were the 21 people who were injured.

Some losses were likely never reported with people and businesses being under insured or lacking insurance.

Putting a price tag on a wildfire can never quantify the emotional toll. Heart beats still skip at the sound of sirens and the smell of smoke.

Analyzing the numbers

Tahoe Prosperity Center wanted to do an economic study about the Caldor Fire, but didn’t have the money to do so. Tom Harris, an economist at University of Nevada, Reno, put together a short memo for TPC.

His analysis from figures provided by TPC showed the projected revenue decline for the entire South Shore for hotels-motels was $21 million, while the loss in revenues for retail-restaurants was $19.4 million for a four-week period between August and September that accounted for the mandatory evacuation.

The document said El Dorado County sustained an employment loss of 522 workers. This amounted to “total labor income loss of $18.2 million, lost total value added of $29.20 million, and lost total economic activity of $50.3 million.”

For Stateline, Harris, wrote the hotel-casino sector in Stateline for that same four-week timespan saw revenue declines of $32.5 million, with a loss of 343 jobs, $15.3 million in labor income and $42.9 million in economic activity loss.

Stateline casinos reported a 77 percent drop in revenues to $5.6 million for September 2021 when the area was evacuated and no one was traveling on Highway 50 into the South Shore.

This had a ripple effect because casinos pay property taxes on revenues and not the actual value of the premises. Third quarter property taxes in 2021 for the Stateline casinos were down more than 9 percent, according to the Nevada Department of Taxation.

According to the California Natural Resources Agency, the state doesn’t track or estimate the cost of wildfires in a way that accounts for public health costs or ecological damage.

Crews work to fix the dozer lines along Power Line trail on the South Shore. (Image: Leona Allen)

Businesses rebound

Every business on the South Shore was affected by the fire. Spoilage of food was a biggie for restaurants and grocery stores.

Getaway Café in Meyers had to toss nearly $18,000 worth of food. Smoke mediation was about another $12,000.

Insurance covered the losses. Owner Diane Guth praised and criticized Nationwide in the same sentence because the company later dropped Getaway Café as a client.

The restaurant was closed for 23 days that summer.

“I made the call about two days before we were actually evacuated because you couldn’t breathe anymore. People were getting headaches and were nauseous,” Guth said. “Our hoods at the restaurant had been running every single day until we were evacuated. The hoods had been pulling those particles in. That was toxic stuff.”

Siobhan Fajayan, director of marketing for Edgewood Tahoe Resort, would not reveal the economic impact on the Stateline property.

She said while the hotel and restaurants were closed until Sept. 17, Edgewood “remained steadfast in supporting first responders, providing essential resources such as accommodations and food/water to the firefighters….”

While Grocery Outlet in South Lake Tahoe did not put a dollar value on the food it donated, what was distributed filled two pickup trucks.

“It was all of the perishable products—eggs, meat, produce,” explained Ryan Schouten who works for his parents, Kim and Mike, who own the store.

The grocery store was closed for seven days.

The donations were used by South Tahoe Refuse which had set up a barbecue in its parking lot in South Lake Tahoe first for its employees who were called back to work during the evacuation because of bears creating messes. Then word spread to first responders in the basin, and they, too, were fed by the STR crew.

“It was fun to see all these police and firefighters from all these areas come in,” STR President Jeff Tillman said. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and to-go boxes were provided. “They were protecting our streets. The least we could do was feed them.”

Tillman would not talk about the economic impact to the garbage company, only saying people had been through enough so they shouldn’t have to worry about getting rid of their waste.

“Once people were able to come back in town we were already on a normal schedule,” Tillman explained. “We set up trucks parked in four different areas in the community so they could bring spoiled food to us. We did that for a week or two. We had the transfer station open if anyone wanted to get rid of spoiled food or anything else they wanted to get rid of.”

Kim Aitken, store manager for Sports Ltd. near Stateline, said the company’s insurance company fully compensated them, but she would not say what the figure was.

Summer sales are a huge part of the sporting goods’ business. With few people in town when smoke inundated the basin, then the evacuation, and the reopening not happening until after Labor Day, well, it was almost like losing an entire season of sales.

Doors were taped to try to keep the smoke out and fans were running to cleanse the air.

“We bought huge air purifiers that most people would use for, honestly, cannabis operations,” Aitken said.

While some people were arrested on looting charges, the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office did not provide the numbers of arrests or names of people to be able to track what happened to them. Nor could the economic losses be ascertained.

Barton Health prepares to evacuate patients in August 2021 with school buses and ambulances. (Image: Barton Health)

Barton battles

Medical care is a whole different animal during crises. It entails moving people and equipment, and still being able to provide care.

Barton Health was notified evacuations were imminent before the general public was. This was in order to safely move patients and staff. On Aug. 29, the medical conglomerate used buses from Lake Tahoe Unified School District and local ambulances to move 36 skilled nursing patients to Carson City, and 16 acute patients, seven of whom had Covid, to various partner facilities in the region.

“Equipment related to medical imaging, laboratory, pharmaceuticals, general medical and surgical supplies, and critical care and trauma supplies were evacuated in order to ensure our staff and partner medical facilities can continue to provide care to patients,” Thea Schwartz, communications specialist for Barton Health, said.

Emergency room personnel were the last to leave, which was Aug. 30. Barton used its ski clinic trailer at the Heavenly Mountain Resort’s California Lodge as a triage clinic. This is where firefighters were headquartered.

Barton Memorial Hospital reopened Sept. 6 with ER and acute care services. By Sept. 13 the facility was fully operational.

“During the evacuation there were direct costs to transport patients, medical supplies, equipment, etc. In total, Barton’s estimated overall losses/expenses—direct and indirect—throughout the entire Caldor Fire event was close to $12 million. Barton was reimbursed from our insurance company for losses specific to the evacuation period at approximately $4 million,” Schwartz said.

Those figures are for the entire Barton health care system, not just the hospital.

“Lost revenue and lost patient visits occurred not only during the evacuation, but also in the weeks leading up to the evacuation due to the smoke/air quality impact on the community. Barton incurred costs to implement smoke mitigation processes including air filters and building maintenance work to improve air quality,” Schwartz explained.

Since then, insurance premiums and deductibles have “increased significantly,” according to Schwartz.

Trees felled after the Caldor Fire in the forest on the South Shore in June 2023. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Legal ramifications

When someone is convicted or pleads guilty to starting a fire, restitution is usually part of the sentence. Because a judge said the El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office didn’t have enough evidence to take the case against the two men charged with starting the Caldor Fire to trial, restitution isn’t going to happen.

The DA’s office was uncooperative with answering questions about what, if anything, happens next.

Eldorado National Forest and DA investigators determined the probable cause of the Caldor Fire was from a bullet from people target shooting.

Eldorado Forest officials said the case rests solely with the DA’s office now.

However, the DA’s office would not answer whether the case regarding the fire is closed, or if more evidence is being sought to bring new charges against the father-son duo who have been the only suspects named to date, or if someone else may be held accountable.

Restitution for individuals, businesses and public agencies isn’t possible without a conviction.

In 2016, Wayne Allen Huntsman pleaded guilty to starting the 2014 King Fire in El Dorado County. In addition to a 20-year prison sentence, he was ordered to pay $60 million in restitution.

“We are uncertain if any restitution has been paid while he has been in prison as that is not information we generally receive,” Assistant District Attorney Lisette Suder said. “As for general restitution rules and guidelines, if someone had money before they went to prison, they would be ordered to pay restitution from what money they had. While a defendant may not be able to earn much money while in prison, a percentage of whatever small amount they may make while working jobs in prison can be set aside to pay a portion of a restitution order. Some victims feel they would rather get something rather than nothing.”

Suder explained one reason prosecutors seek restitution even though in the moment the perpetrator may not have money is if “the defendant (were) to ever get money in the future from later jobs or inheritance or otherwise.”

This would also include proceeds from book deals or the like.

Helping the forest

Can a price be put on a dead tree? Maybe. El Dorado County Resource Conservation District, which has played a pivotal role in forest restoration post-Caldor, received $3.5 million from the Forest Service and a $1.2 million grant from CalFire.

To date, the Caldor is the largest fire in El Dorado County’s history and the first to be declared a federal disaster.

Work continues to help the charred forest come back to life. In all, 221,835 acres were blackened in El Dorado, Alpine and Amador counties. Most of the fire burned on the Eldorado, with 9,885 acres burning in the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit.

Each national forest has separate work plans to restore their lands.

Facts to date provided by the Eldorado:

  • Helicopter and ground based operations felled approximately 280 acres of hazard trees within Sierra-at-Tahoe’s ski area boundary. More than 18 million board feet of sawlogs have been removed to Tahoe Forest Products. An additional 1,000 tons of cull and biomass material has been processed on site and removed.
  • Hazard tree phase 1 when completed will include 1,849 acres across approximately 24 miles of road. A total of 24 million board feet of timber products are planned to be removed from the project area.
  • 2,058 acres of machine pile burning on the Grizzly Flat Fuel Break.
  • 39 acres of machine pile burning at Grizzly Flat Fire Station.
  • 29 acres of under burning on the Marshall Mine RX.

Last May the Eldorado conducted meetings to gather public input about its restoration project. More comments could be sought this spring, with a decision possible this summer.

The proposal’s overriding goals are to: “1) restore and manage ecosystem health and resilience, 2) reduce the threat of future uncharacteristic and catastrophic wildfires and associated risks, and 3) provide socioeconomic benefits to surrounding communities and the public in areas adversely impacted by the fire.”

LTBMU finalized a plan in 2022 for 1,528 acres of national forest lands that were burned and approximately 50 acres that were damaged during fire suppression. But work is not done. The agency this year could start on more restoration that focuses on managing the watershed, vegetation, special uses and fuels. Public comment will be sought on those proposals.

Note: A version of this story first appeared in the Tahoe Mountain News.

Civil disobedience has history of spawning substantive changes

Civil disobedience has history of spawning substantive changes

“… young people have an obligation, mission and mandate to push and pull, and not be satisfied.”

Those are the words of the late John Lewis, who was a civil rights activist and congressman.

John Lewis in 2014 being interviewed for Aspen Ideas.

Aspen Ideas in recognition of its 20th anniversary this spring released the interview conducted by then (and now late) PBS co-anchor Gwen Ifill. Their discussion came 10 years ago on the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act.

“You have to have the ability to speak up, speak out and get in the way. Get in trouble—good trouble, necessary trouble,” Lewis said. “That is what I have been doing for more than 50 years. And I will continue to do it.”

Systemic change seems to come from younger people galvanizing around a shared cause or belief. They can be the catalyst for lawmakers to change policy. We need them more than ever–for change in the U.S. and our policies abroad.

Lewis, in his quest for civil rights when he was in his 20s, was arrested multiple times, beaten and harassed. He understood the change young, determined people could foster.

As I listened to Lewis speak it made me think about the unrest today on college campuses.

Blindly supporting Israel is not the answer. The United States needs to do better—and soon. Israel and its powers that be need to be held accountable for the slaughter of Palestinians, for the destruction of Gaza as well as the continued turmoil in the West Bank.

Washington Post Associate Editor Jonathan Capehart on the May 3 edition of the PBS News Hour said how it’s possible to be against what the Israeli government is doing in Gaza without being anti-Semitic. I agree wholeheartedly.

Lewis’ talk didn’t touch on Mideast issues, but he did say a comprehensive immigration plan is needed in this country. A decade later and it’s still true. Too bad a candidate for president was able to sway his party in Congress to not sign one of the most comprehensive immigration bills in generations.

As Lewis said, “There is no such thing as an illegal human being. We all come from some place.”

At the time of the Lewis-Ifill interview, he was frustrated young people didn’t “want to get their hands dirty.” That they walked away from conflict, from fighting for what is right.

I think he would be proud of what is going on today—or at least most of it. I know I am.

Public art brings beauty to towns throughout Mexico

Public art brings beauty to towns throughout Mexico

Clay skulls in Ajijic, Mexico, commemorate the town’s dead. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

While plenty of natural beauty exists in the world, artists are contributing to the built environment via various modalities.

Something about murals especially captivate me. Perhaps it’s the large format. Maybe it’s the detail. Or it could be how the artist makes me stop in my tracks. Some works pay homage to the community they are in, or work with the architecture of the building they are painted on. Some are serious, others whimsical.

A colorful horse anchors one end of the plaza in Todos Santos, Mexico. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

On a recent trip to Mexico I was in awe of various installations—first in the Lake Chapala area and then in Todos Santos. I don’t know if in the latter I had not been paying attention before, or if there is more art today, or if it was just one of those days strolling through town on my own that I took the time to pause and appreciate what was in front of me.

Muralism is not new in Mexico. In fact, the art form has been an integral part of the country’s culture for 100 years.

Bricks cover part of a mural in Ajijic in the Lake Chapala area. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

“Mexican muralism emerged in the 1920s following the Mexican Revolution. It began as an effort by the government to unify its citizens who were living in a fractured, post-revolutionary state,” Copyright Alliance’s website says. “During this time, the Mexican government looked to restore itself by building a rich legacy of nationalism and culture through art. This movement then grew to inspire generations of artists to turn infrastructure into canvas.”

The three great Mexican artists to embrace this format include José Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera, and David Alfaro Siqueiros.

A frog seems to leap out of the corner of a building in Ajijic, Mexico. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

While I am not one who can rattle off names of artists, I just know what I like. For public art, at least on this occasion, I was drawn to the unique and the larger works.

One in particular in the town of Ajijic on the mainland of Mexico is The Wall of the Dead on the side of a school in the center of town created by Efren Gonzalez.

The whale’s eye tells an unknown story. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Clay skulls line a wall. While this might seem morbid and off-putting, the endeavor was and is full of love. The installation is to commemorate those who have died in town. Each skull has a name of a person, with a hole under the chin where a candle is placed each November on Day of the Dead.

The large non-mural that captured me in Todos Santos was of a Pegasus horse. It seemed to be made out of scraps of metal that were somehow pieced together in a colorful array. It’s in the town’s plaza facing the church.

Two murals side-by-side in downtown Todos Santos. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

The whale mural in this Baja Sur enclave got me wondering what the artist was thinking with painting in the animal’s eye an image of a girl drifting presumably in water. I’d like to know more.

That’s the thing about art—while it may not physically change, it can change based on your mood, the light, who you see it with, and a number of other factors. Art seems to always be evolving even as it sits stationary.

21 years later details of legendary snowboarder’s death come to light

21 years later details of legendary snowboarder’s death come to light

Those who know their snowboarding history know Craig Kelly.

“Craig was like the Michael Jordan of snowboarding,” is how Eric Blehm describes Kelly.

Author Eric Blehm talks April 12 at Word after Word bookstore in Truckee.

Blehm was at Truckee’s Word after Word bookstore April 12 to promote his book The Darkest White: The Avalanche that Took Him through a conversation with Truckee’s Jim Zellers, another legend in the world of snowboarding. I watched the event the next day; and recommend you do the same.

Kelly was one of seven people who died Jan. 20, 2003, in an avalanche on the Durrand Glacier in Canada. He was 36. Truckee resident Kathy Kessler, 39, died in that same avalanche.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Blehm’s The Last Season: Randy Morgenson was legendary for finding people missing in the High Sierra. … Then one day he went missing himself (HarperCollins, 2006) I imagine the same will be true with this latest book.

I found the talk fascinating because it wasn’t a book reading. It was an opportunity for those in attendance locally and afar to get insight into Blehm’s approach to the book, to learn about the five years of research. That’s what happens when you interview more than 100 people and some of what you learn leads you down pointless rabbit holes.

“It’s so well researched. It answered a lot of questions for me,” Zellers said.

At times both men got choked up as they talked about their friend and shared memories.

Many in attendance knew Kelly personally and knew his story, as well as what happened on the mountain that fateful day. This is because some were survivors of the expedition and others lost loved ones that day.

Not being a snowboarder or familiar with Kelly didn’t matter. I was riveted. I don’t know what the controversy was surrounding the tragedy. Blehm admits he didn’t have all the answers, and in part that led him to this project.

Based on audience questions and comments this is more than a book about Kelly and his death. It’s also about the history of snowboarding.

Zellers’ comment that he “was surprised by the ending” makes me want to read the book even more.

Garage sales: unload goods, people watch without leaving home

Garage sales: unload goods, people watch without leaving home

Garage sales are not going to be my route to an early retirement, or any retirement for that matter.

But they sure are an interesting way to meet the people I live among.

Some of these items are no longer available, others will be sold post-garage sale. (Image: Kathryn Reed(

Last Saturday my neighborhood put together a garage sale for anyone who wanted to participate. One would think after only three years here that I probably wouldn’t have much to get rid. And I didn’t have much, but enough to make it worth my time.

Mom and I each came with a vacuum. Why keep two? Well, we still have two. I’ll try to find another way to unload it. Same with a few other things. The thrift store is where other things will end up.

The most popular items I had on the driveway were two Jerry cans. They went with me on my first trip to Baja because the Jeep didn’t get good gas mileage and I was told about a couple stretches that might not have gas.

Because gas stations were plentiful on all of my trips I never needed the cans. I can’t imagine needing them going forward. Of course I probably just jinxed myself.

So many people looked at them and liked them. They told me the price was very reasonable. I learned California has new rules about what new Jerry cans must have that don’t make sense—at least according to the shoppers.

They liked their look and function, including the venting ability.

After all of the lookie-loos, I am still in possession of two Jerry cans. There must be a buyer out there somewhere.

The suitcase was another popular item. I bought this recently from a friend sight unseen. With it being smaller than my current one, I tried to recoup my money and get rid of a duplicate item I don’t need. No luck. Again, I’m sure there is a buyer out there.

One lady zipped it up, spun it around and asked the price. My answer didn’t satisfy her. I asked what she would like to pay for it. She said she has enough suitcases so she wasn’t buying. I just shook my head. What the hell? Why touch it? Why engage me?

As has been the case with every garage sale I’ve ever had, people come before I’m set up. Start time was to be 8am. People were by about 7:45am; maybe earlier and I didn’t see them.

Then there are the drive-bys—the ones who cruise by slowly without stopping. They must want something in particular they can tell from the car window that I don’t have.

Even though I didn’t get rid of all that I wanted to, I will soon—one way or another. It never hurts to go through things to see what you no longer wear, or use, or don’t care about. That mission was accomplished.

Nevada casinos not impacted by growth of sports betting outlets

Nevada casinos not impacted by growth of sports betting outlets

Sportsbooks in Nevada have not seen a drop in profits since more states offer this type of gaming. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

While the $185.6 million bet at Nevada casinos on the Super Bowl in February set a record, sports betting is really no big deal in the state or locally—at least when it comes to revenues.

“The sportsbook would make a couple million dollars a year in gross profit and then it roughly equates to a million dollars to the bottom line. In the big picture at Harrah’s and Harveys, that is a pimple on their butt,” says a retired casino manager from the Stateline properties. “They are better than poker rooms. Poker rooms make nothing, so to speak. But both things are in there to make it a full service casino; to attract people for other things.”

Sports betting revenues were bleak at Lakeside Inn and Casino as well, but had nothing to do with the property closing in 2020.

“The sportsbooks are very labor intense and costly. We made so little that I stopped owning our own sportsbook and leased the space to William Hill a few years before we closed,” explained Stacy Noyes, former president of Lakeside. “They basically took on most of our employees and I just collected rent.”

Gaming experts say sports betting not being an economic driver has nothing to do with the U.S. Supreme Court in May 2018 repealing the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). It’s always been this way.

“Sports gambling doesn’t generate a lot of revenue by itself. Where its shows impact is in everything else,” Alan Feldman, gaming expert at the International Gaming Institute at UNLV, said. Those other things are room nights, food, drinks, shows, and gambling at the tables and slots.

PASPA opened up sports betting to every state. At the time only Nevada allowed sports betting—at least legally—so the economic impact to the Silver State could have been impactful. Today, 38 states, as well as Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., allow sports betting.

The numbers before and after PASPA (see chart) prove expansion of sports betting has not hurt local casinos.

That could change if California approves sports betting. Two initiatives to grant this type of gaming failed in 2022. People in the know expect voters will have an opportunity to revisit the idea in the coming years. With more than 20 major league teams in the state, sports is clearly important to the residents of the Golden State. And with 76 Indian casinos in the state, Californians clearly like to gamble.

Money matters

Stateline casino sportsbook figures

Year       Amount people bet    Casinos’ income              Contribution to bottom line

2016        $71,849,088.33             $4,901,226.02                   2.3 percent

2017        $65,487,562.75             $4,981,650.16                   2.2 percent

2018        $61,881,951.85             $6,551,623.74                   2.8 percent

2019        $62,631,192.81             $5,469,032.81                   2.4 percent

2020        $52,887,520.20             $5,802,834.84                   3.2 percent

2021        $79,381,282.10             $6,104,997.30                   2.4 percent

2022        $97,152,894.00             $5,069,413.00                   1.9 percent

2023        $76,865,360.95             $6,613,170.02                   2.7 percent

Source: Gaming Control Board

Feldman explained how about half of the $185 million that was wagered on the Super Bowl is returned to winners.

“By the time you take expenses out you are hoping as a sportsbook to have a 3 to 5 percent margin,” he said. “Online you do a little bit better because you don’t have the same level of expenses. If you take that 3 to 5 percent of $185 million, that is the economic impact to Nevada. That is what stayed here.”

Stateline sportsbooks’ overall take from 2016 through 2023 was minimal, according to the Nevada Gaming Control Board. The contribution to the bottom line in that eight-year period ranges from 1.9 percent to 3.2 percent, or $4.9 million to $6.6 million.

In 2023, people dropped $30,622,793.99 on football games at the Stateline casinos, $22,329,927.97 on basketball, $13,974,434.37 on baseball, and $2,866,077.29 on hockey.

The take for the South Shore casinos last year on football was $2,952,949.71, basketball $1,392,734.41, baseball $1,235,937.52, and hockey $390,689.87.

“From a statewide view PASPA has not hurt Nevada sports betting at all. It is booming,” Mike Latton, senior analyst with the Gaming Control Board, said. “Sports betting is so popular. It’s so accepted. It’s no longer in the shadows. It goes hand-in-hand with betting on your phone. You have a sportsbook in your pocket. A huge driver of success is mobile wagers on a phone.”

Who’s in charge      

William Hill runs the sportsbooks at Bally’s Lake Tahoe and Golden Nugget Lake Tahoe. No one from the London-based company responded to an inquiry.

No one from Caesars Entertainment, which owns Harrah’s Lake Tahoe and Harveys, returned calls. Same with Golden Nugget. A Bally’s worker wouldn’t give his name and said he didn’t have much experience in the sportsbook.

Harrah’s and Harveys, the latter being the larger of the two sportsbooks with multiple televisions and kiosks for betting, for years had a locally operated sportsbook. When William Hill came in a few years ago things went haywire. No longer were issues able to be resolved in-house or quickly.

Caesars Entertainment solved that problem by spending $3.7 billion in 2021 to acquire the company. Even so, the local properties are not run by William Hill, but instead by Caesars Sportsbook.

Even though Eldorado Resorts bought Caesars Entertainment for $17.3 billion in 2020, it opted to use the Caesars name. The acquisition created the largest casino and entertainment company in the United States.

“Sports betting changed significantly with the big guys like William Hill spreading across the state because you could bet anytime you want on their app if you were in Nevada,” Noyes said.

Stateline casinos have sportsbooks, but they aren’t big money makers. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Local appeal

Not everyone is thrilled with the changes, at least locally. Some longtime gamblers prefer personal interactions with sportsbook employees instead of having to bet via a kiosk, which is becoming the norm.

“They suck. It’s absolutely awful. The bottom line is they want everything to be automated. It’s a nightmare,” said Sharla Freeman, who has a home in Zephyr Cove.

She and her husband, Jay, like to make regular, albeit small like $10 a game, bets on football and basketball. Today, the thrust is to get people to use kiosks to place bets instead of relying on an employee to make the exchange.

“If you go into Harveys at 9am on NFL Sunday, there is very likely to be 100 to 150 people waiting to bet. You try to get that done on six kiosks; it just doesn’t work. People were getting fed up,” Freeman said.

Her husband has the Caesars app, but it only works in the state where he signed up for it. And that’s not Nevada, so this just adds to their frustrations.

“It got to where I don’t even want to go in there anymore,” Freeman said of Harveys. “I will go to Bally’s sometimes and make my bets. Bally’s will actually have some people there and have more sheets.”

The sheets with all the games available used to be the only way to place a bet. People could pick one up a few days ahead of game time and peruse what they wanted to gamble on. For people who don’t want to bet with mobile devices this now leaves the kiosks as the preferred way—at least preferred by casinos.

“This was the first year that the Las Vegas-Stateline sportsbooks did away with their numbered betting options. This makes it extremely difficult to make bets from the printed prop bet sheets that the sportsbook passes out,” explained a South Lake Tahoe resident who has more than 40 years of betting experience from bookies to sportsbooks. “We went to three different sports writers who could not find our bets on their computers. We ended up with the sportsbook manager and general manager both working on placing our bets. It took about an hour and a half to finally place our bets with both of those guys helping us. Last year and prior years every bet had a number next to it, so it took no more than five seconds to make a bet.”

These locals have noticed a decrease in the number of people at the sportsbooks. The dollars, though, prove people are betting. Apps allow it to be done outside the sportsbook.

“Back a few years ago you were not even allowed to use your cell phone in the sportsbook,” the South Lake bettor said. “Now everybody is on their cell phone in the sportsbook. Now with the betting apps you can bet during the game with lines always changing based on the current score.”

Without the casinos commenting, it’s hard to know if the change to the kiosks is to reduce the number of employees and/or trying to be convenient or some other reason.

As Freeman says, “I don’t think they care if you are there.”

Note: This story first appeared in the Tahoe Mountain News.

Book in common brings community together

Book in common brings community together

Reading Chico State’s book in common is the closest I get to being in a book club of any sort these days.

“The book in common is a shared, community read, designed to promote discussion and understanding of important issues facing the broader community. The book in common is chosen each year by a group of university faculty, staff, students and community members,” the university’s website says.

Clint Smith, right, answers questions from faculty members on April 11 at Chico State. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

How the Word is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America (Back Bay Books, 2021) by Clint Smith was the 2023-24 book “we” all read. The culmination was earlier this month with Smith giving a talk to the community. Earlier in the day he spent time in classrooms.

What I liked about this book is that I learned so much without ever feeling like I was being lectured to. The book is about Smith’s experiences going to various places in the United States and Africa that have a connection to slavery. But it’s not just about him. It’s about the role those places played in our history and the impacts they continue to have.

The chapters cover Monticello, Whitney plantation, Angola prison, Blandford cemetery, Galveston and Juneteenth, New York City, Africa, and his family. I had not heard of all of these locations before.

The talk gave a depth to the book because the faculty asking the questions wanted to know about Smith’s research process, how he picked the places he went to, and so much more.

He also talked about needing to listen to understand why people believe what they believe. And how if certain people’s narrative changes, it changes who they are and how they think of their ancestors.

Smith gave such lengthy answers that not many questions were asked. But that was OK. What he had to say was worth listening to. What he wrote in this book is even more important.

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