Pharos-Tribune

Breaking News

Local News

April 19, 2013

Budget forecasters predict bigger drop in gaming revenues

Bipartisan group: State needs to protect income source.

INDIANAPOLIS — While a gaming bill is still in play in the General Assembly, state budget forecasters are predicting the payoff to the state from legalized gambling will be even lower then expected.

The April budget forecast released this week predicts revenues from the state’s casinos and racinos will drop by $71.5 million more over the next two years than what those forecasters predicted just four months ago.

The quicker-than-expected plunge in gaming revenues is critical as the General Assembly crafts its final biennial budget and debates a watered-down gaming bill that was supposed to the buffer the state’s casinos from growing competition.

And it may be worse than it looks, according to one of the chief budget makers who thinks the latest forecast low-balls the coming losses.

“I thought they should have shown a bigger drop,” said Senate Appropriations Chairman Luke Kenley, a Republican from Noblesville. “I don’t think they show the true impact of what’s going to happen. [Gaming] has been a big revenue producer for Indiana, but I don’t think it’s going to continue to be.”

Since the first riverboat casino opened in Indiana in 1995, the state’s gaming industry has poured more than $10 billion in taxes into the state’s coffers, becoming the third largest source of revenue for the state’s general fund.

But with rising competition for gaming dollars in neighboring states — including four new casinos in Ohio — the pool is growing smaller. While the two racinos (horse track-based casinos) have been holding their own, admissions and revenue at the state’s riverboat and land-based casinos are down over the last three years.

The state’s budget forecasters have been preparing for the loss. In their December 2012 forecast prepared for the budget makers in the General Assembly, they estimated overall gaming revenues would drop from about $567 million in fiscal year 2013 to just over $520 million by the 2015 fiscal year.

Four months later, in the April forecast used in the final budget bill negotiations, estimates are more grim: they’re now predicting a drop to $492 million by 2015. That includes a drop in racino tax revenues, from $117 million in 2012 to just over $95 million by 2015.

For lawmakers like Rep. Terri Austin, a Democrat from Anderson with the Hoosier Park Racing and Casino in her district, the latest forecast numbers are evidence that the General Assembly needs to act this session, before it ends April 29.

“This really paints the picture that we must do something to protect the state’s revenue source,” Austin said. “It’s our third largest revenue stream, aside from personal and sales taxes, and the state depends on that money at this point.”

Austin is part of bipartisan group of lawmakers with casinos in their districts frustrated that a gaming bill, Senate Bill 528, has been watered down from an original version aimed at giving casinos more flexibility to compete.

The current version of the bill, now caught in House-Senate conference-committee negotiations, prevents casinos from expanding their physical footprint and bars racinos from adding live table games, which would result in about 600 new jobs.

“This industry employs thousands of people,” Austin said. “So we’re trying to do two things: Trying to make sure we don’t hurt ourselves in unemployment picture and at the same time, keep our revenue stream as protected as possible.”

Republican Gov. Mike Pence, who wants a 10 percent income tax cut in the final budget bill, opposes adding live table games at the racinos, calling it an expansion of gaming he won’t support.

Ed Feigenbaum, publisher of Indiana Gaming Insight, said the downward revised numbers in the April forecast shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Numbers released by the Indiana Gaming Commission earlier this month showed Indiana’s riverboat casinos took another financial hit in March, after five consecutive months of lower revenues. The most dramatic: While a brand new casino in Cincinnati raked in $21 million in March, the Hollywood Casino in Lawrenceburg, 30 miles away, saw revenues drop by $9.8 million from a year ago, or 25 percent.

“That just confirmed everybody’s expectations,” Feigenbaum said.

The drop in gaming dollars is due to more than just the new casinos in Ohio, Feigenbaum said. When the federal payroll-tax holiday lapsed late last year, the paychecks of wage earners dropped about two percent. “That left people with less disposable income, particularly those discretionary dollars used for entertainment.”

For Feigenbaum, the April budget forecast prompts the question: When will the state start to wean itself off the gaming tax dollars?

“We’re not going to be able to rely on them to extent we did before,” he said. “Even if we expand gaming — in whatever form that takes — it’s not going to be possible to regain that kind of revenue again.”

Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for the CNHI newspapers in Indiana. She can be reached at maureen.hayden@indianamediagroup.com.

 

For more on this story and other local news, subscribe to The Pharos-Tribune eEdition, or our print edition

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • Fatal wreck UPDATE: Monticello woman killed in overnight wreck

    A Monticello woman was killed late Monday night in an automobile accident involving a car and semi-trailer truck in the northbound lane of U.S. 31 near the junction with U.S. 931.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pool sets Sunday at closing date

    The season will close at Tower Park Municipal Pool on Sunday, according to the Logansport Parks & Recreation Department. Final season activities will begin on Friday, including "Floatie Friday." Pool-goers are invited

    July 29, 2014

  • Police investigate possible stabbing

    A woman called 911 late Monday to report she had been stabbed in her Brookston home.

    July 29, 2014

  • Winamac woman dies in crash with county truck A Winamac woman is dead after failing to stop at an intersection and being struck by a Pulaski County Highway Department dump truck. Just before noon on Monday, Dollie Frinkle, 71, Winamac, was driving a 1996 Buick Park Avenue westbound on 100 South

    July 29, 2014

  • Indiana BMV asks court to delay vanity plate sales INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles has asked the state Supreme Court for permission to continue its suspension on sales of vanity plates until a court case is settled. The Indiana attorney general's office announced Monday it ha

    July 29, 2014

  • Police Blotter: July 29, 2014 Have a tip? Anyone with information on a crime is encouraged to call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS. Information leading to an arrest or conviction could lead to a reward of up to $1,000.

    July 29, 2014

  • SPT - PT072914 Colts-pic [Duplicate] QB Luck making progress ANDERSON — Wind chill estimates put the temperature at 59 degrees Monday morning at Anderson University.During one stretch of his fifth training camp practice of the year, however, it likely felt much colder to Andrew Luck.The Indianapolis Colts quar

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • District's tire collection effort still going strong If you’ve got old tires, the county still wants them.The Cass County Solid Waste District extended the county-wide tire collection program Monday for the next few weeks — or until the new semi-trailer is full at least.District director Bob Ehle has b

    July 29, 2014

  • Permanent road closure has Miami Co. residents worried PERU — Residents who live near a safety-flare company that’s expanding north of Peru spoke out against a proposal to permanently close a section of county road that runs through the company’s facilities.Orion Safety Products, located at 3157 N. 500 W

    July 29, 2014

  • NWS-PT072914 Legal Services3.jpg Church opens nonprofit immigration clinic She’s worried about her oldest daughter, now almost 18, who’s residing with strangers in Honduras.She talks to her daughter almost daily, she said, but the last time she saw her in person was when her daughter was 7 years old.That’s because she’s und

    July 29, 2014 3 Photos

Featured Ads
More pharostribune.com
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
AP Video
US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism Boater Rescued From Edge of Kentucky Dam Girl Struck by Plane on Florida Beach Dies Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Poll

Should grocery and convenience stores be allowed to sell cold beer?

Yes
No
Unsure
     View Results
eEdition