Doing nothing correct way to
deal with casinos
Tuesday, April 30, 2013 11:00 AM
Indiana's legislators did the right thing by doing nothing to bail out the state's gambling industry.
Indiana has "lived high on the hog" from casino money for the past two decades, says House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, but now should stand on principle and let go. "I'm not prepared to engage in a massive expansion of gambling just to keep revenue up. I don't want to see us get in any deeper," he told the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel.
For 2010, taxes from Indiana's 13 casinos amounted to almost $680 million, or 5.5 percent of the state budget. But because of the weak economy and competition from casinos in adjacent states, the figure dropped to $632 million last year. Budget planners are anticipating a drop of 20 percent in the next few years.
Casino advocates have sought measures that would grant $100 million in tax reductions, allow live table games at the two horse-track casinos and permit casinos to move from water to land.
Yes, the casinos add to the state's economy - about 15,000 people are employed in the gambling industry here. But every business contributes to the economy, and most of them don't get subsidized with tax breaks.
It's a good practice in general to let businesses compete in the free market and thrive or fail based on what they offer and what their customers want. "We all have to be able to withstand competition in our businesses and to find better ways to treat our customers and attract more business," says Rep. Bill Davis, R-Portland. "I don't think this industry is that much different."
Doing nothing and letting gambling tax revenue decline gradually is exactly the right move. We will have plenty of time to find the right mix of replacement revenues and reduced spending to get us through the rough spots.