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August 1, 2015

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Court is urged to block Caesars’ arena initiative

CARSON CITY — False and misleading information was used while gathering signatures in support of Caesars Entertainment’s plan to build a 20,000-seat arena on the Las Vegas Strip, arena opponents say.

Taxpayers for the Protection of Nevada Jobs filed its opening brief Monday asking the Nevada Supreme Court to throw Caesars’ initiative off the 2012 ballot.

“During the signature-gathering process, petition circulators used fraudulent means to obtain signatures, including providing false and misleading information about the location and the initiative benefits and detriments to induce people to sign the petition,” according to the group, which is supported by MGM Resorts International.

The secretary of state’s office verified 157,778 voter signatures on the petition, although only 97,002 were needed to place it before voters next year.

Caesars is proposing a $500 million arena to be financed by a 9/10-cent increase in the sales-and-use tax in a proposed three-mile gaming enterprise district near Imperial Palace.

Scott Scherer, attorney for the taxpayer group, said in the brief the initiative was defective because it covered more than one subject. He said it failed to disclose that the petition would eliminate competing arena proposals.

Scherer said the petition fails to identify the area where the tax would be imposed, citing only a Nevada law number. “This is useless to the average person asked to sign the initiative unless they happen to be carrying Chapter 463 of NRS (Nevada Revised Statues) with them to the grocery store.”

Several other arenas have been proposed.

The Legislature approved a bill to allow competition on the ballot to derail the plans of Caesars Entertainment. The bill prohibits the creation of a special tax district that would impose a rate higher than the countywide sales tax rate.

The measure with the most votes in 2012 would win.

The Supreme Court will hear arguments later this year.

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