During the three-day Electric Daisy Carnival last year, officials estimate ravers poured more than $130 million into the Southern Nevada economy.
The success of the music fest at Las Vegas Motor Speedway surprised many, especially those who thought the young people flocking to town would be drug-addled paupers who would buy concert tickets and little else.
No question drugs were a part of the equation. But Las Vegas police, part of the festival oversight, reported virtually no problems or serious medical episodes.
However, now it’s the alleged criminal activity of one of the festival organizers that has prompted questions about this year’s festival, scheduled for June 8-10. About 74,000 tickets have already been sold.
Clark County Commissioner Tom Collins said organizers are partnering more with resorts, which took note of last year’s success, and have expanded the event to include seminars and other events away from the speedway. But much of that planning took place before six indictments last week in Los Angeles.
While not the main figure in the emerging allegations, Pasquale Rotella, founder and CEO of Insomnia Inc., which promotes the Electric Daisy Carnival, is accused of bribery, embezzlement and conspiracy.
Rotella pleaded not guilty to the charges. His bail was set at $1.2 million.
Insomniac Inc. moved the Electric Daisy Carnival to Las Vegas last year from the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, where it had been held for years — until a 15-year-old girl died of an Ecstasy overdose in 2010.
The indictments stem from an investigation into financial arrangements between various entities and the government-operated coliseum. A Los Angeles Times story last week said the six individuals who have been indicted are charged “with bilking (the coliseum) out of millions of dollars during a six-year-spree of embezzlement, bribery and kickbacks.”
The question now is whether legal issues in Los Angeles will endanger plans for the Electric Daisy Carnival, Las Vegas’ newest money-maker.
Collins said that since the indictment was unsealed, he has spoken with carnival organizers, who have assured him the show will go on. (Insomniac has also issued a statement assuring the public that the Las Vegas event will be held.)
Collins noted that Rotella has only been accused, not convicted. But he understands why some people might be wary.
Rotella is the founder and CEO, but “he’s still part of a corporation,” Collins said. “Many corporations have people that get into legal trouble but the business keeps going.”
Company executives could not be reached for comment.
Whatever happens in Los Angeles, Collins isn’t worried about its impact here. He expects Insomniac Inc. to receive its permit for the event without any problem.
“Those folks were so well-behaved last year,” he said, “and that’s what we love — people having a good time and spending their money.”