Casino tax money helps cities, but still falls short


Casino tax money helps cities, but still falls short

The first distribution of Ohio’s gross casino revenue tax will reach county coffers by the end of the month. Local officials called the new funding source a welcome infusion to lean budgets, but say the income falls far short of making up for state budget cuts in recent years.

“At this point, any dollars that can be used for general operations are certainly welcome,” Joe Tuss, Montgomery County’s interim county administrator said. “We’ve gone through extremely difficult budget reductions over the last three years.”

The tax payouts to Ohio’s 88 counties and to cities with more than 80,000 residents, including Dayton, are based on population. The Ohio Department of Taxation will make the distributions to jurisdictions quarterly on or before July 31, October 31, January 31 and April 30.

Montgomery County and the city of Dayton stand to acquire the largest revenue slices in the region for the casino revenue tax. Both will receive $234,638 from the first distribution, followed by Warren County at $187,596, Greene County $142,149 and Miami County $89,784.59, according to the Ohio Department of Taxation.

Dave Gully, the Warren County administrator said that because of the uncertainty of the funding, the revenue was not built into budget projections for this year.

“The casinos are new and everybody is trying them out. We don’t know what the revenue is going to be two years from now,” Gully said. “Our situation is wait and see.”

Unlike Warren County, Dayton and Montgomery County governments included the funding in their 2012 budgets.

Dayton’s Deputy City Manager Stanley Earley said the city’s local government fund revenue has fallen from $15 million in 2010 to a projected $6.5 million in 2013. He said the city is pleased to get the casino revenue tax funding.

“The casino tax revenue is helpful, but it’s only a small portion of the money we lost from the state,” Earley said.

In 2010, Ohio voters approved development of four casinos. Tax distributions by the state this month reflect tax collections from second quarter operations at facilities in Toledo and Cleveland, which opened in May. The Columbus casino is scheduled to open in October and the Cincinnati casino in 2013.

Gross casino revenue —the total amount of money exchanged for tokens, chips, and tickets, less any winnings paid out — is taxed at a rate of 33 percent.

During the first month of operations at the Cleveland Horseshoe Casino and the Hollywood Casino Toledo, gamblers — at 174 table games and 4,083 video lottery terminals — bet more than $417 million, according to data from the Ohio Casino Control Commission.

The Cleveland casino took in $42.9 million at its table games and $159.6 million at video lottery terminals. The Toledo facility gleaned $19.6 million at its table games and $195.6 million was bet on slot machines.

“We expect larger (tax revenue) numbers next year,” Earley said.

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