Infant casinos…want tax break from legislature

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From an article in the Indy Star:

Infant casinos Indiana Live and Hoosier Park want tax break from legislature
Bill provides $74.8M cut for Indiana Live and Hoosier Park

By Bill Ruthhart

[…] In business just nine months, operators of Indiana’s two “racinos” are pleading for a four-year, nearly $75 million tax reduction to help pay their bills.

The problem, they say, is that they overestimated the amount of money 2,000 slot machines would generate at the horse tracks and borrowed too heavily to pay $250 million in licensing fees to the state. Now they say they’re having trouble making ends meet.
Lawmakers who support them say the breaks will preserve jobs and protect the tax revenue the tracks produce.

Critics, including Gov. Mitch Daniels, contend the racinos don’t deserve a bailout over other industries, especially at a time of budget cuts and declining revenues for the state.

The debate revisits issues raised in 2007, when legislation passed to allow slot machines at racetracks. The legislation won support because it directed $500 million to property tax relief. Lawmakers also were sold on slots because the new gaming revenues would help save the state’s struggling horse racing industry and even fatten purses. It also didn’t hurt that the state was charging the highest licensing fee for a gaming operation in the U.S.

But now Hoosier Park in Anderson and Indiana Live Casino in Shelbyville want a do-over on some of the math.
“We’re looking for a mid-course correction based on a very unique situation with an astronomical license fee,” said Jim Brown, general manager of Hoosier Park. “There were guesses made by us and the state as to what revenue would be produced. The guesses were wrong.”

[…] “This is a highly profitable business,” said Rep. Win Moses, D-Fort Wayne. “It’d be a shame if we spent our tax dollars in this manner.”

A victory in the House

[…] The Indiana House voted 58-39 last month to approve House Bill 1729, which would grant the racinos a 5 percent reduction in their wagering taxes through 2013.

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