Electric Daisy Carnival

EDC could balk if lawmakers up the entertainment tax

Attendees dance to the sounds of Justin Martin during the first night of the Electric Daisy Carnival early Saturday, June 21, 2014, at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Photo: Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

It’s hard to imagine Electric Daisy Carnival getting any more costly for the people who produce and attend it. But that might just happen once state officials begin wrangling with our problematic entertainment tax.

We’ve been down this road before. During the 2013 Nevada legislative session, lawmakers sought to tidy up the state’s live entertainment tax, which adds between 5 and 10 percent to the cost of attending a performance but allows for numerous exemptions, including large-scale festivals and events like EDC, NASCAR races and Burning Man. EDC promoter Insomniac braced for any changes—and likely sent the state a message—by shelving plans for two new festivals. In the end, the LET revision died after the legislature came up with too little, too late.

Two years later and not one full week into the 120-day session, legislators raised the issue again, especially in light of Gov. Brian Sandoval’s quest to find more revenue for education. With business license and property tax increases wildly unpopular in Nevada, a new LET would seem an easy way to collect from spend-happy tourists. In the case of EDC, Insomniac’s generally young customer base would probably blame the promoter, not the state, for adding as much as $35 to a $349 general admission ticket (on top of an estimated $400 in daily expenses). And the company, which did not comment for this story, might counter that its previous four Vegas festivals have generated nearly a billion dollars for the Valley (though a small percentage of that money is local and state tax revenue).

Insomniac’s five-year contract at Las Vegas Motor Speedway ends with this year’s EDC, for which only VIP tickets remain. As such, lawmakers need to proceed carefully. This is one party Nevada doesn’t want to see end.

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