Indiana Casino Tax Change to Impact Local Communities

Local communities across the state of Indiana stand to lose $18 million in annual funds under a new piece of legislation currently being considered by state lawmakers called House Bill 1350. The potential move has received much criticism, though, and is being viewed as a means of channeling extra funds away from local governments into Indiana’s state coffers.
As things stand, Indiana casinos are obligated to charge their customers a $3 admission fee, and each year the state subsequently redistributes $48 million of that amount to local units and state agencies. House Bill 1350, however, seeks to replace the entry fee with a new tax burden for the industry, and as its sponsor, State Rep. Todd Huston (photo), explains the bill “changes the riverboat admissions tax to a supplemental wagering tax of 3 percent of a riverboat’s adjusted gross receipts.” A $30 million cap would subsequently be imposed on the redistribution funds to local communities, with the extra $18 million then allocated towards the state’s general fund.
According to Huston, such a move would help Indiana’s casinos to better cope with increasing competition from nearby states by boosting traffic to the venues, thereby raising their overall gambling revenues. In 2016, for instance, the state’s five casinos generated revenues of $967.82 million compared to the $976.65 million reported for 2015. Furthermore, the period from September 2015 to Setember 2016 saw gambling revenues dive by 21%, according to the Casino Association of Indiana, and commenting on the development, John Chaszar, Tropicana Evansville’s general manager, stated:
“It’s 22 years [since gambling was legalized] and really eventually, we’ll have to take a look at all the regulations and how we become more competitive with our neighboring states in this industry.”
In the meantime, their have been numerous outspoken critics of the new proposal, with Local State Representative Randy Frye (R-Greensburg) pointing out that the extra $18 million in funds would make little difference to the state’s coffers, but will have a more significant negative effect on the small communities across Indiana which depend on the revenue.

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