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I am all-for small business becoming successful in Southern Nevada. As a freelancer writer who is literally a one-man shop among a long line of impressive public relations firms, I’m happy with a trade that I started almost 25 years ago.
So it bothers me that Dotty’s slot parlor owner Craig Estey is suddenly facing a rash of new restrictions created by the Clark County Commission.
For the record, Estey has Dotty’s outlets all over Southern Nevada that have apparently prospered since he arrived in the valley in 1995. In shopping centers that were left to rot during the recession beginning in 2007, Estey gobbled up real estate and opened Dotty’s in areas no one else wanted anything to do with -- and as of earlier this year, he had 60 slot taverns all over Southern Nevada.
Leasing agents and shopping center owners all over the valley had to be elated that while everyone else was moving out, Estey had moving trucks out front moving in.
In a nutshell, you can’t go five blocks without seeing a Dotty’s somewhere. Whether it’s on St. Rose Parkway, on Boulder Highway, in North Las Vegas or countless other areas of town, you can bet that you will find a Dotty’s open all night long.
It appears that Estey is a barebones kind of guy who offers a shored-up atmosphere with over the counter beverages and microwave foods. Rather than a Taj Majal-like casino with all of the bells and whistles, a Dotty’s has a few slots and no table games. Residents can usually walk to a Dotty’s where the establishment is free of the clutter and safe at the same time.
So now the Clark County Commission has leveled a long list of new regulations on Dotty’s establishments and while that might be rather odd considering the timing, what’s even more perplexing is that Stations Casinos along with PT’s Pubs are behind the move in conjunction with the Clark County Commission.
Estey has told the Las Vegas media that he might have to close all of his establishments. His one-man (or woman) shops have seemingly rubbed the big boys of Southern Nevada wrong.
For the record, Stations Casinos is comprised of several wealthy members of a prominent family. PTS Pubs is comprised of relatives of the prominent family and it sure seems obvious that we’re seeing the classic David versus Goliath battle.
I mean, for God’s sakes, if this is all about competition, isn’t that what this community is all about? Is it necessary to all-of-a-sudden provide further regulation when in fact, everything has been going along just fine since Estay built his first Dotty’s in Southern Nevada years ago?
Let’s compare the latest scenario to that of the car business. For the sake of argument, let’s talk about luxury lines of new cars such as Cadillac, Lexus, Mercedes Benz or Porsche.
Down the street, another car dealer opens a store with less expensive vehicles in a dealership that is not quite as impressive looking. Both were granted permission by the governing body of their area to open and attempt to make a living.
There couldn’t have been a better example than when Planet Hyundai opened right next door to Gaudin Porsche on West Sahara Avenue several years ago. However, I guarantee you that the owner of the Porsche store didn’t suddenly lobby to close the Hyundai dealership even though they were at opposite ends of the price scale and were actually competitors.
Ironically enough, Gaudin Porsche will soon move next door to another Hyundai dealership --- and right next door to a Ford dealership off the I-215 between Rainbow and Jones boulevards in the southwest valley.
Competition will remain strong among all of the car dealerships and you can rest assured that there will be no lobbying by any of the businesses to shut down the other. Instead, the car business welcomes new competition whether its transplants from North Carolina or Phoenix or Southern California.
So while car dealers simply try to outsell one another on a daily basis, it appears that gaming doesn’t operate that way. Instead, those with influence suddenly start trying to encourage new regulations that shut down the little guy.
To me, it’s a level of bully tactics almost like corporate terrorism and it spits right in the face of competition no matter how big or small. In fact, in the words of former Nevada State Senator Mike Schneider, if there are changes to be made, it should be through the Nevada Gaming Control Board and not through the Clark County Commission anyway.
Added long time former hotel executive KJ Howe, “Another example of big money wanting it all. I can’t believe if they force Dotty’s to close that there will be a mass influx of new customers to the big box gaming joints.
“They just hate it when the little guy finds a market segment they didn’t think about. Once they find that the segment is profitable, they cry for protection. They hate it when others are more inventive than they are.”
Schneider, who spent 20 years in the legislature in Northern Nevada, also pointed out that Dotty’s outlets are all over Northern Nevada adding “nobody bothers them up there.”
Yet another notable Las Vegan – this one who is in the gaming business – questioned why all of the Dotty’s should be subjected to the current change in regulations.
“The very least the commission should do is grandfather the existing Dotty’s locations,” said the executive who asked that he not be identified.
Remember the Country Western song Little Man by Alan Jackson in which Corporate America steamrolls the little people with no regard whatsoever? If you haven’t heard it, you should because Jackson could rewrite the lyrics to fit this scenario perfectly.
God forbid that this is a power play that is the result of a teamwork effort on behalf of the Clark County Commission and the big-money people of Southern Nevada gaming all in an effort to snuff out the little guy.
It’s CBS 60 Minutes or ABC Nightline material that prominent people in Southern Nevadadon’t need right now. Common sense now says to pull the troops and spend your time doing something productive.
After all, the commission has had enough issues in the past without facing another one now. Nobody needs another can of worms in this community – and you can rest assured that the bad PR that will be suffered by those attempting to inflict the damage will far outweigh the few souls that any of these so-called hot shot casino executives attract to play a few slot machines.
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