After World War II, the gambling and entertainment industries in Reno and Las Vegas expanded. The opening of the huge Flamingo Hotel in 1947 changed the character of gambling near Las Vegas. By 1951 there were five large hotel-resort casinos operating in Clark County, just outside of Las Vegas city jurisdiction and away from higher city taxes. During the late 1950s and 1960s low county tax rates encouraged a thriving resort economy based on the lure of legal gambling casinos that were open 24 hours a day, big-name entertainers, lavish food buffets, and bargain room rates. Although organized crime had initially funded much of the gaming industry, Congress pressured the state to tighten gaming-license regulations in the mid-1950s.
Since the 1960s Nevada has grown faster than any other state in the nation; most of the growth has been concentrated in Las Vegas. By 2000 the state’s population was 2 million, with two-thirds of the population in and near Las Vegas. California and Nevada formed the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) to regulate population growth and property use in the Lake Tahoe area. Water resources are critical to sustain growth in both Las Vegas and Reno. Gold mining in eastern Nevada, near Elko, has made Nevada among the top producers of gold in the world.
The successes of the Nevada economy and the consequent increase in population have created environmental problems. Air pollution has appeared in Reno and Las Vegas. Gold processing techniques that employ cyanide leaching ponds threaten underground water supplies. The state’s rapid population growth, especially in the Las Vegas region, has put pressure on the state’s water resources and overwhelmed such systems as education and mass transit. Some experts fear that Lake Mead, which supplies 90 percent of the water in southern Nevada, may eventually dry up.
The gaming economy has also caused an increase in social problems. Crime has increased, and people who live in a 24-hour economy serviced by minimum-wage jobs have problems with high teenage-pregnancy rates, divorce, alcoholism, drugs, gangs, and suicide.
Despite its wide-open spaces, Nevada is one of the most urban states in the nation. The population is concentrated along the California border, particularly in Reno and Las Vegas. The resort industry of Las Vegas has built huge casinos and hotel complexes that use ancient Egyptian, medieval, pirate, and jungle themes to attract the public. The new hotels and casinos have fueled a construction boom, as has an influx of new residents who require housing.
Key contributors to Nevada’s economy—the gambling casinos, ranchers, and the new mining ventures in the eastern counties—share an antipathy to federal government control. Since the 1950s the gaming industry has feared taxation and regulation; the ranching community has opposed regulations controlling grazing on environmentally sensitive federal lands; and the mining industry has fought any revisions of the Mining Act of 1872, which allows private companies to remove precious metals from federal lands with no charge or royalty fee.
Tourism continues to contribute heavily to Nevada’s economy. The state’s gaming industry has consistently paid over 40 percent of the cost of state government. Its revenues have enabled the state to spend more on education and to support two major state universities and a community college system, but experts warn that the state’s tax base is too narrow to support major increases in education. In recent decades Nevada has tried to diversify its economy, attracting new businesses by advertising its climate, relatively low housing costs, and absence of corporate, state, or local income taxes. "Nevada" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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