Careful Planning for Casino Revenues in Ohio
Ohio residents, specifically in Cleveland and Toledo, welcomed the first Casino to open in the State. It’s the first of upcoming casino openings in the State and will be followed by openings in Columbus and Cincinnati.
Slot machines and other casino games will be a source of income for counties, cities and schools all over Ohio through casino tax revenues. According to the analysis made by Cincinnati Enquirer, gambling taxes will produce between $1.4 million to $3.4 million every year for the county and its school districts.
Steve Neal, Ross County Auditor, said in his estimate the county will only be receiving $430,000 in 2013. This is less than what the Enquirer had estimated. Neal’s estimate was the same one put out by the Ohio Department of Taxation in 2009 when the casino measure was placed on the ballot for voters. He added that so far there hasn’t been any other reliable estimate for Ross County that he was aware of.
Neal does not think the county will be earning a sudden gain after the casino opening because of budget cuts for local government funds even if the county gains more than expected. This year, Ross County had lost $336,814 in local government funding and there is still a foreseen loss of $214,000 in the first six months of 2013. This totals to a $550,000 loss in government funding. He also expects that in the next biennium, the budget will further reduce in the second half of 2013.
“What the casino revenues are going to do is going to make up for that loss in local government funding,” said Neal. He added that their sales tax has been keeping them afloat this year, but they are not expecting to see a windfall of money. Officials from schools in the county are also skeptical about the amount of money they will be receiving and how much it will mean to their budgets.
Consultants have indicated that school districts can expect $21 per student for this year and as much as $80 for every student when all the casinos have opened. Ross County school treasurers said they were not banking on a big boost from casino taxes. They have also said that they haven’t been given a solid projection of the money that they should be expecting. There were concerns that revenues could end up like the lottery funding. It started as a supplemental source of revenue and eventually became part of the state aid.
Revenues will start coming in late this year into Ross County and other city treasuries. But this will only be a small portion of the revenue since there are only two casinos open so far. It won’t be until early next year before school districts see any results. Casino tax distribution for schools will only be sent twice a year, instead of every quarter.
Tax projections will also depend on whether slots open at seven racetracks. If this happens, local governments should expect 27% reduction in tax proceeds because these scenarios are expected to dip into casino profits.
Ohio racetracks were made to operate slot machines following a court decision dated May 30. Scioto Downs opened its racino with 2,000 slots in June 1 of this year. A part of fees that racino owners pay to relocate their racetracks will be given to communities that host racinos to help improvements in the area like roads and bridges.