Riverboat Wagering Tax to Monroe County May be Cut

West Baden Springs Hotel
West Baden Springs Hotel

Although I try to avoid too much comment on “live” legislation that may change by the hour, the legislation currently under consideration with respect to casinos in Indiana provides an opportunity to discuss another form of revenue that local governments depend on.

Yesterday, the news agency TheStatehouseFile.com reported that:

“The Senate voted Thursday to strip about $6 million in gambling money away from local governments as part of legislation meant to boost the casino industry.”

The full (and very well-written) article is available here.

Senate Bill 528 makes a number of changes to the statutes affecting gaming in Indiana, including a number of tax cuts designed to make Indiana gambling more competitive, now that a number of neighboring states are allowing casino gambling. Under this legislation, according to the article, the home communities of Indiana’s 13 casinos would lose $27M in revenue. Many of these communities rely on this revenue for funding of their roads programs; this loss will be difficult to make up, even if the various attempts to increase road funding overall this year are successful.

However, under revenue sharing legislation established in 2003, Indiana counties that are NOT hosts to casino gambling (like Monroe County) also receive revenue from the Riverboat Wagering Tax assessed on admissions to casinos. The amount of revenue shared with counties is fixed at $33M annually, and is distributed based on population. The following table shows Monroe County’s receipts from the Riverboat Wagering Tax:

Year Amount
2009  $287,870
2010  $287,870
2011  $287,870
2012  $302,078
2013  $302,078

The amendments to SB 528 that passed on Thursday would reduce the $33M revenue sharing amount by about $6M to $27M. Assuming no other changes to the distribution methods, this legislation would result in about a $55K annual cut in riverboat wagering revenue to Monroe County that would otherwise go into the General Fund.Presumably the increase in 2012 reflected the change in population in Monroe County from the 2010 Census.

Obviously all counties in Indiana will be watching this legislation, which could see a full Senate vote next week, very closely.

For some good background on casino gambling in Indiana, see the following (slightly old, but still very useful) references:

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