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Casino Owners Pressure Legislature To Change Tax Code

The Aztar Riverboat is one of several casinos on the Ohio River.

Indiana’s casinos had their worst attendance month in more than a decade in November and brought in the lowest single-month revenue since 2008.

They are struggling, in part because of increased competition from neighboring states and the stagnant economy. Now, casino owners are pressuring the legislature to change the state’s tax code and direct more revenues back to the casinos instead of state coffers.

House Ways and Means chair Tim Brown says evaluating those proposals will rely largely on how fiscally comfortable the state is, based in part on economic activity in the early part of next year.

“What are people spending? How comfortable do they do feel? How confident do they feel?  And I think that will be reflected in income and sales projections during the first quarter,” Brown says.

Gaming revenue brought in more than six hundred million dollars to the state last year.  Portage Democratic Senator Karen Tallian, who sits on the state budget committee, says it’s in the state’s best interest for casinos to succeed.

“Well, certainly right now it is,” Talilans says. “I mean, we don’t want to give up an industry that is providing the third largest source of income to the state general fund.”

Both Brown and Tallian says they are open to hearing proposals from casinos  but would not say yet whether they will support any of them.

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