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Statewide admissions down for casinos

For the first time since Harrison County began receiving riverboat gaming revenue funding, the fully capped amount of $23 million-plus will not be reached this year.
Harrison County Council chairman Gary Davis, at Monday’s regular meeting, said the revenue related to admissions tax statewide is down 10 percent.
‘Basically, we’ll get three-quarters of a million dollars less in admissions tax,’ he said. ‘This is probably, almost guaranteed to continue.’
Councilman Phil Smith said this is the reason the county needs to continue to build its Harrison County Community Foundation fund, which is nearing $80 million.
Smith also said he’s worried what the future may hold in the state legislature regarding Harrison County’s riverboat revenue.
The revenue loss will effect the council’s ‘what if’ riverboat analysis, and Smith said it will be adjusted accordingly.
The ‘what-if’ analysis is not a set-in-stone budget, but a five-year guideline to keep track of future spending on projects, such as the Lanesville Interstate 64 interchange sewer project, South Harrison Park enhancement and even pending death-penalty cases.
The admissions tax is like a turnstile count of people who make their way into Indiana casinos. With the addition of casinos in neighboring states, such as those in Cincinnati, the number of people entering Indiana casinos has dropped. Horseshoe Casino opened a $400-million facility in March 2013, in downtown Cincinnati, which is within an hour’s drive of three Indiana casinos, including one of the state’s best-performing facilities. A racino also opened near Cincinnati and another in Dayton, Ohio, providing more competition for Indiana gambling dollars.
Illinois also has plans to add virtual gaming machines at local bars and taverns, which could negatively effect northwest Indiana casinos.
Overall, gaming revenues in the state were down approximately $242 million in the last fiscal year.
The supplemental distribution, according to the state auditor’s office, is equal to the difference between the riverboat admissions tax received in the state’s fiscal year 2002 and the tax received in the state’s fiscal year 2014 unless the sum of the differences is greater than $48 million, then it is reduced proportionally. This year, the sum of the difference did exceed $48 million.
So, instead of $7.2 million received from the tax, the county will only see $6.5 million.
The council’s next meeting will be Monday, Sept. 22, at 7 p.m. at the Government Center in south Corydon.