- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 23, 2015

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Presidential candidates will try their luck in Las Vegas next year as Sin City hosts the last of three debates ahead of the November election.

The Commission on Presidential Debates announced Wednesday that it had chosen the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, to host the third debate on Oct. 19, 2016. The state popular with White House hopefuls for its early caucus and potential as a swing state will host the first Democratic primary debate next month but has never before hosted a general election debate.

It signals an incredible turnaround for Las Vegas, said Don Snyder, UNLV’s presidential adviser for strategic initiatives.

“When there was conversation during the recession about how Las Vegas was not being a place for political meetings or business meetings, that affected business, and it was not fair,” he said. “And I think for the presidential debates to be here, totally allows that message to be turned not just (into) a positive but an incredible positive.”

Minutes before the news was made public, Las Vegas tourism leaders voted to spend up to $4 million on the event at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.

The cost includes the $1.95 million fee to host and produce the debate and an additional $2.05 million for expenses including security, promotion and logistics.

“It’s just tremendous exposure for the city of Las Vegas,” said UNLV President Len Jessup, noting that the destination is better suited than most to handle an event of this magnitude.

The American Gaming Association, which represents casinos and slot-machine makers nationwide, said the debate’s location also would put the gambling industry into focus with presidential candidates. The group has launched a “Gaming Votes” initiative to highlight the economic impact and jobs created by casinos.

“UNLV offers the ideal setting for educating presidential candidates about today’s modern casino gaming industry,” Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the association, said in a statement.

Details about the debate’s format or moderator were not expected to be announced until next year.

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