Lanni steps down from gaming lobby’s board

MGM Mirage boss Terry Lanni has resigned from the board of the American Gaming Association, the federal lobby that is headed by Harrah’s Entertainment Chief Executive Gary Loveman.

The two chieftains are at odds over a proposal by the Nevada teachers union to raise by 3 percentage points the state room tax paid by tourists, with the money going specifically to education. Harrah’s backs the plan, but Lanni this week told the Sun he’d rather raise money for the state general fund with a room tax increase plus an increase in Nevada’s business payroll tax.

“Why education should only be paid for by visitors I’ve never quite understood. Businesses that operate here should be willing to fund education,” Lanni said.

Lanni said he quit the gaming trade group because of time commitments, not personality or political conflicts.

“I needed time from the AGA to focus on trying to find a solution to the bigger problems of this state,” said Lanni, whose company will remain a member of the association and participate in various other committees, such as one on corporate diversity. “We need to find some better answers than the one on the table. It’s going to take a lot of my time.”

He’s also busy stumping for Republican presidential nominee John McCain as one of the Republican Party’s fundraising chairmen in Nevada.

Lanni isn’t afraid to flex his company’s leadership muscle.

MGM Mirage gave up its membership in the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce after the tax debacle in 2003, when a gross receipts tax plan supported by a broad coalition of gaming companies failed to win legislative support because of opposition from nongaming interests and the chamber.