Las Vegas, Nevada officials have been pushing hard to get additional security due to the fact that the state’s multi-billion dollar casino industry could be a soft spot for an organized terrorist attack. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently announced that it had authorized $2.9 million in funds which will be used to increase federal security to Las Vegas and its $53 billion casino industry.
The city of Las Vegas, the Nevada congressional delegation and the American Gaming Association (AGA) have been working closely for a number of months to highlight the major security risks that are unique to Las Vegas casinos and have presented the same to the DHS in the month of January 2016 in letter form. This letter also requested Jeh Johnson, the DHS secretary, to provide additional funds to Las Vegas via DHS’s Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI).
Some of those risks and recommendations highlighted to DHS officials state that Nevada and the U.S. rely heavily on the Las Vegas gaming market which has a $240 billion national economic impact, generating over $38 billion in federal, state and local tax revenues; Las Vegas provides employment to more than 200,000 full time employees and thousands of part time employees; the city of Las Vegas is one of the most visited states in the U.S, attracting more than 42 million visitors each year, with a significant number of these visitors are from international destinations.
The letter also points out that Las Vegas has more convention and hotel rooms than any other city in the nation, and weekend hotel occupancy rates are more than 90 percent; hosts a number of high profile events on a regular basis which will include the final debate of the U.S presidential election this year.
In a statement, Sara Rayme, senior vice president of public affairs for the AGA said “Federal security funding plays a critical role in ensuring the safety of Nevadans and the more than 40 million people who visit Las Vegas each year. We’re grateful to the Nevada congressional delegation, Governor Sandoval and Mayor Goodman for their strong efforts to ensure Las Vegas received this funding. We appreciate FEMA’s recognition of the unique characteristics that merit Las Vegas receiving these crucial resources.”
There have been serious concerns by the state of Nevada that the casino and entertainment industry in Las Vegas could be attacked by terrorists and also through a cyber-attack that could significantly impact the city. State officials leveraged the State Homeland Security Program (SHSP), the amended Homeland Security Act of 2002 and the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) which makes provision for special grants to be given to states, cities and urban areas to help them protect, prevent and respond to any kind of terrorist threat.