Saturday, Sept. 1, 2007 | 10 p.m.
The federal Homeland Security Department plans this month to begin enforcing workplace regulations that will require businesses to screen their employees to make sure their Social Security numbers match their names.
If names and numbers don't match, businesses have 30 days to check for clerical errors, and employees have 60 days to prove their identity. Employees who are unable to prove their identity must be let go, and employers who don't terminate employees without valid identities are subject to fines of up to $10,000.
Illegal immigration is a hot-button issue, and it's difficult to avoid antagonizing extremists on both sides.
Here in Las Vegas there are a lot of illegal immigrants, probably more than 100,000. Many of them work. A federal crackdown on businesses with employees without verified identities would undoubtedly be painful to those workers and employers.
But government and many employers have ignored the widespread use of bogus identifying documents for too long, and the ability of computer databases to cross reference names with Social Security numbers makes the new crackdown a sensible one, as long as it is enforced without favoritism.
I think immigrants have always been one of our nation's greatest strengths, and I support liberalized legal immigration policies that would allow more folks to pursue the American Dream.
But it just doesn't make sense to close our eyes to the rampant use of fake names or Social Security numbers when technology, combined with government and business follow-through, can root out those who are working illegally.
All businesses should have to play by the same rules, and the government should make sure they do. If businesses want to be able to employ more immigrants, they should lobby Congress to allow more legal immigration.
• • •
Venetian Macau opened last week, and based on available Wall Street and news reports, the property is off to a solid start.
Owner Las Vegas Sands Corp. should be credited for its bold moves in Macau, as the company has proven its ability to move quickly and definitively to become a market leader.
Its Sands Macau beat Wynn Macau into the market by more than two years, and demonstrated to Macau competitors that building a quality place that caters to the mass market could be immensely profitable.
Sands raised the stakes tenfold on Cotai, where it once again gains first-mover advantage with Venetian Macau, a project that should grow in importance as neighboring hotels are built and opened.
Sands owner and Chairman Sheldon Adelson may not have had casino-building experience before he built the Venetian Las Vegas, but his aggressive expansion of his company into Macau and pending projects in Pennsylvania and Singapore show he's got a lot of gamble in him -- and for his investors, he's the best kind of gambler.
The kind who wins.
• • •
Harrah's partnership with entertainment powerhouse AEG is a good sign for those folks impatiently waiting for Harrah's to announce its plan for the hundreds of acres it has assembled behind its wall of casinos on the east side of the center Strip.
Harrah's Chairman Gary Loveman originally expected to announce those plans a year ago, but the company's pending takeover by two private equity funds has delayed the announcement.
But those hand-wringers who worried that the private equity buyout would cancel Loveman's plans will soon be proven wrong.
The arena will be just one part of what I expect will eventually be a major, albeit delayed, redevelopment of its properties on the east side of the Strip.
Although it remains to be seen where Loveman will choose to redevelop first, my bet for the first Harrah's implosion is still on Imperial Palace, with or without its neighbor to the north, Harrah's.
Speculation centers on the arena hosting a hockey team, although I think a basketball team would be more successful.
My early nominations for a team name with a Harrah's connection: the Caesars, or, one step removed, the Las Vegas Legions.
Jeff Simpson is business editor of the Las Vegas Sun and executive editor of sister publication In Business Las Vegas. He can be reached at 259-4083 or at email@example.com.