Casino workers to protest gaming tax break

2013-02-04T14:43:00Z 2013-02-04T18:01:08Z Casino workers to protest gaming tax breakBy Keith Benman keith.benman@nwi.com, (219) 933-3326 nwitimes.com

Members of Unite Here Local 1 who work at Northwest Indiana casinos will be in Indianapolis Tuesday to lobby state lawmakers as they consider tax breaks for Indiana casino operators.

The union contends Senate Bill 528 is in fact a "blank check" to casino owners, many of them out-of-state investment funds like Wayzata Investment Partners, which owns Gary's Majestic Star Casinos.

The casino employees want the legislators to insure that the money casinos save on the tax breaks is used to create jobs at Indiana casinos, according to Unite Here Local 1.

Senate Bill 528 would eliminate taxes on casino admissions and free play coupons. If enacted, the legislation would cost the state's general fund between $149 million and $231 million, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency.

Casino operators say they need the tax breaks to make more investments in their gaming operations to compete with casinos opening in nearby states.

Two weeks ago, the Senate Public Policy Committee voted 9-0 for Senate Bill 528 which also would permit central Indiana racinos to use live dealers at table games and allows riverboat casinos to move inland on property adjacent to their dock. It now must go before the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Revenues at Northwest Indiana's five casinos dropped to $1.11 billion in 2012, as compared to $1.13 billion in 2011, for a 2.1 percent drop overall, according to a tally by The Times of Indiana Gaming Commission monthly revenue reports. That drop compares with a 5.5 percent drop statewide in 2011.

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