11/06/2002 12:00AM

Nevada voters reject pot and same-sex marriages


Nevada is seen as a liberal state, where anything goes, live and let live, but Tuesday's election results belied that perception.

Voters said "no" to a referendum that sought to make possession of up to three ounces of marijuana legal, while also voting "yes" to amend the state constitution to define marriage as being legal only between a man and a woman.

Sixty-one percent of the voters opposed the marijuana question on the ballot. If it had passed, it would have had to go to a vote again in 2004, so it would have still been a longshot, especially considering it was in violation of current federal drug laws.

But the ban on same-sex marriages (which remain legal only in Vermont) will become law after being approved by 67 percent of the voters on Tuesday. The first time it was on the ballot, in 2000, it received 70 percent.

Advisory issues - which don't change law, but give legislators the go-ahead to write legislation - also passed, saying 57 percent of voters favor stronger regulations to protect people from secondhand smoke, while 67 percent voted on another initiative to prohibit smoking in places frequented by children (schools, grocery stores, restaurants, etc.).

The biggest impact on the future of Nevadans, however, might come as a result of elections in other states, especially in U.S. Senate races. With the Republicans gaining control of the Senate, Nevada's Sen. Harry Reid, who was second in command as majority whip and controlled a lot of legislation that reached the Senate floor, will lose those powers, as well as chairmanship on several key committees.

Reid has been instrumental in the state's fights against the storage of nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain (which is supported by the Bush Administration) and the proposed college betting ban. With Republicans taking control of Senate committees and dictating the agenda, those bills have a much better chance of passing.

JetBlue expanding Vegas service

Las Vegas loves airlines. The more people they bring to this adult playground, the merrier.

Visitor volume and hotel occupancy rates have slowly recovered from pre-Sept. 11 numbers, but both should get a boost when JetBlue Airways begins nonstop service from New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport on Jan. 7.

The 2 1/2-year-old low-fare carrier - one of the few profitable airlines this past year - launched service to and from Long Beach, Calif., last month, in direct competition with Southwest Airlines, which is the number-one volume carrier to Las Vegas's McCarran Airport. That sparked a price war, with Southwest lowering all of its fares to and from Sin City.

The same should happen with flights from the East Coast, especially from America West and Las Vegas-based National Airlines, which offer nonstops from the New York City/ Newark, N.J., region.

JetBlue is planning an 8:30 a.m. (Eastern) flight from JFK airport, arriving in Las Vegas at 11 a.m., and a 6:50 p.m. flight that arrives in Las Vegas at 9:40 p.m. The return flights depart Las Vegas at 9:50 a.m. and 10:35 p.m., arriving at JFK at 5:50 p.m. and at 6:25 a.m. the next day. They are being priced at $99 each way, plus tax.

Southwest Airlines does not have nonstops from JFK, but instead books puddle-jumpers originating in Islip, N.Y.

Vaccaro back at Stardust Invitational

The second round of the Stardust Invitational begins Friday night. The Invitational is a 16-player, head-to-head, single-elimination tournament in which public handicappers, sports betting industry insiders, and celebrities give seven football picks each Friday night in the Stardust's sports book. The winner advances, the loser is eliminated. The Invitational is aired live on KDWN AM-720.

This week's matchup is between legendary Vegas bookmaker Jimmy Vaccaro, who now sells his selections and writes gaming articles, and local handicapper Andy Iskoe. Both went 4-3 with best-bet winners in their first-round victories.

If it seems like Vaccaro was just on the show recently, that's because he was - just two weeks ago.

As Greg Daraban, Vaccaro's co-host on the "Don Best Radio Show" and loser to Mike Lee in last Friday's Invitational matchup, said on the air last week: "In horse racing, it's a good sign when they wheel you right back."

The rest of the quarterfinal matches: "Papa" Joe Chevalier vs. Karol Lucan, Nov. 15; Rudy Ruettiger vs. Lance Zierlein, Nov. 22; and Lee vs. Buzz Daly, Nov. 29.

'Beat' goes on

"I Walk a Beat," the alias of the front-runner in the Las Vegas Hilton SuperContest, has opened up a two-game lead after going 4-1 with his five NFL selections last week. "I Walk a Beat" has a record of 33-12 (73.3 percent). One point is awarded for every winning selection with pushes counting for half a point.

Two points back are "Mage" at 31-14 and "Hollywood Al" at 30-13-2. Three players have 30 points, with three more at 29, including Iskoe (under the moniker "Little Awful Andy") and last year's runner-up, Tony Salinas. Each of the 281 contestants paid an entry fee of $1,500. First prize is $168,600, with a $10,000 bonus if the champion exceeds 67 percent winners.

Leader aces Station weekend

"Mbay Dice" has opened a two-game lead in the Gambler's Challenge at Station Casinos, going 5-0 last week and sitting at 32-13 on the season.

Roland Phillip is in second place at 30-15, with "Vegas Connection" and "MRO" another game back at 29-16. Tony Salinas is just off the pace in this contest, too, at 27-17-1 and tied for eighth place.

The picks of the leaders in both the SuperContest and Gambler's Challenge are available in the respective sports books by Friday afternoon.