Missouri Gambling Revenues Decline Causing Funding Shortfall

Missouri Gambling Revenues Decline Causing Funding ShortfallMissouri’s annual casino revenues are showing a marked 9% decline for the first seven months of the 2014 fiscal year, leading lawmakers to question whether it is merely a short-term setback for the state’s casino industry or a sign of things to come .
The bitter winter, an ailing US economy and increased competition from neighboring states certainly are having a significant effect on revenues, and with fewer people gambling at Missouri’s 13 casinos, The Show-Me State is facing a shortfall in funding for its public schools and seven nursing homes for retired service members.
“We do have a problem in the veterans funding that has kind of gotten away from us. We are going to have to address it for this year’s budget,” commented House Budget Chairman Rep. Rick Stream, R-Kirkwood.
According to the Missouri Gaming Commission report, casino tax revenues are off by 4.7% from July 1, 2013, to January this year, with the state collecting $26 million from casino admissions fees and a further $180 million for education funding. As a result, the Missouri House was compelled last week to give the nod to an extra $22 million in funding for public schools to be added to a supplemental budget for this fiscal year’s budget.
In addition, barring a pick-up in the state’s casino gambling, the commission estimates an extra $10 million will be required in next year’s budget to avoid disruption in the veterans’ home services.  Consequently, lawmakers are currently considering a range of solutions to plug the shortfall, including the introduction of a  special lottery ticket with all revenues then going towards the veterans fund. This would represent a break in tradition as previously all lottery money was exclusively earmarked for education purposes only.

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