Saturday, October 10, 2009

Some "Truth" on Taxes and Gaming

I've been letting this post percolate over the last few days while I saute and simmer some details, but I think this dish is just about ready to be served up...

Those of you who have been following the Issue 3 debate may be familiar with the latest "argument" filled with "Truth" from the anti-Issue 3 (notice that I did not say anti-gambling...we'll come back to that) outfit calling themselves "TruthPAC" that goes a little something like this: (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

Sandy Theis, spokeswoman for TruthPAC, an anti-Issue 3 coalition funded by Ohio's horse racing track owners who could benefit from the governor's slots plan and be hurt by the casinos, said the trend lately for states has been to set the rates high to sell the idea to residents and avoid the appearance of a ripoff.

"What we are seeing is a trend in states that are now adding casinos -- they have higher tax rates," Theis said. "Pennsylvania is an example. They are new to the casino business and their tax rate is 55 percent. Yet, this Ohio plan comes in at not much more than half that.” (Trading Markets)
Which is absolutely hilarious when you realize that these same people (MTR Gaming Group Inc.) are actually advocating for a significantly LOWER tax rate on gaming in Pennsylvania:
MTR Gaming Group Inc. made the company's case Wednesday for a lower tax on table games and for a license fee based on the number of games.

Chief Operating Officer Robert Norton and four other casino operators spoke before a state Senate committee on the issue, now part of the state's proposed $28 billion budget.

MTR, based in Chester, W.Va., is the parent company of Presque Isle Downs & Casino.

Table games at the Summit Township casino could bring in about $200 million this fiscal year to help balance the budget, which has been hit hard by the recession.

Norton, speaking before a committee whose chairwoman is state Sen. Jane Earll, of Fairview Township, R-49th Dist., suggested a tax rate of 8 to 12 percent on the table games. He also called for a license fee per table, rather than a flat fee of $10 million, which is in the Senate proposal.

The Senate bill proposes a 12 percent tax on daily gross revenue from the table games. A separate House bill suggests 21 percent.

Norton, in a prepared statement, said the company would anticipate putting in 40 to 50 table games at Presque Isle Downs, "assuming reasonable tax rates and license fees."
Emphasis added.

So, Sandy and your fellow TruthPACers, I ask you... Which is it? Too high? Or too low?

Speaking of Sandy...I have to point out the last time we saw Sandy on the statewide stage. That was when she was spokeswoman for the "Dancers for Democracy" which was a group formed to fight off Phil Buress and the Citizens for Community Values which wanted to place severe restrictions on the adult entertainment business in this state. Now these two highly unlikely operatives have joined forces in what I have been calling the Unholy Alliance. Politics sure makes for strange bedfellows...