A bill which has passed the Indiana Senate would rewrite the rules on how casino tax revenues are distributed. County governments are worried cuts to their riverboat fund could affect services
Every time someone walks into an Indiana casino to gamble, the casino is charged a tax of 10 cents a head. Some of that money, along with other casino revenue, is returned to local governments that do not have casinos within their boundaries.
A bill headed to the House would divert some of the revenue earmarked for local entities, and send it back to the casinos.
The amount of the deduction is unclear. Councilor Geoff McKim says Monroe County received about $300,000 from the fund last year, and the current bill would cut about $55,000.
“Obviously it’s a lot, we’ll have to make adjustments, and additional cuts to compensate if we lose all that revenue, but at least we know its limited to the $300,000,” he says.
While Monroe County casino revenue reverts directly to the county’s general fund, in Bartholomew County, the money is often earmarked for particular projects. Auditor Barbara Hackman says in 2012, the money went toward purchasing training materials and new county vehicles.
“Some of these vehicles we have purchased in the past, they would have either not get bought, or would have to wait until several years later, so it would be hard to replace that revenue,” she says.
Proponents of the bill say casinos need to keep the revenue in order to compete with gambling establishments in neighboring states.