Riverboat casinos may "lose the boats" in Indiana
The lawmakers in Indiana
discussed yesterday a possible bill which would allow the
riverboat casinos to convert to docked platforms.
The so-called "barges"
would be built on permanent platforms on the water, which would
make any future expansion process much easier for the casinos.
The bill also suggests an increased fees and taxes, even for the
casinos which would not convert to the permanent docking. The
talks are in conjunction with the proposed House Bill 1835 which
would allow the 11 state casinos to expand further and the two
horse race tracks to add slot machines.
It is interesting to
note, that the current riverboat casinos on Lake Michigan and
the Ohio River have not been required for years to cruse during
"gambling sessions", but must maintain the engines of the boats
in working condition at all times.
The legislature is
discussing also the taxes that would be imposed on the casinos,
which would come as a trade-off for the right to expand their
buildings further, and the right to dock the casinos. The
current Indiana gambling revenue tax is a progressive one,
starting at 15% and going up to 35% for revenues exceeding $150
million. The tax suggested by the sponsor of HB 1835, Rep. Trent
Van Haaften (D-Mount Vernon), would go a step higher to 40% for
the casino revenue over $200 million. Another fee would be added
by the 1835 bill - $25 million to convert to "barge" + $500 per
square foot, if the casinos would like to expand their floors.
Many are worried,
however, that if slots are allowed in the horse-racing tracks,
they would basically turn into land-based casinos, and so would
the former Indian riverboat casinos, once they don't have to
have an engine and are conveniently and permanently docked.