Is the Gambling Playing Field Fair?
During a recent visit to Oklahoma I spent several hours at the Winstar Casino. That place is massive with 600,000 square feet of gambling space. That compares to about 30,000 square feet for the casinos in Louisiana (with the exception of the Harrah's Casino in New Orleans which is 115,000 square feet).
Winstar is a monstrosity and it's about an hour north of Dallas. It is now siphoning off a large share of the Dallas gamblers who were previously visiting Shreveport Bossier casinos. But Winstar does have many drawbacks. The first big problem is the tax gamblers must pay on every bet. If you play black jack or other table games, you have to put up .50 cents for every bet. Gamblers also have to pay for all alcoholic drinks while playing at the casinos in Oklahoma.
But I wanted to dig a little deeper to see how big the impact is on the local casinos. Oklahoma casinos pay far few dollars in taxes to the state when compared to the Louisiana casinos.
The tribes in Oklahoma have paid more than $1 billion to the state since 2006. But the casinos in the Sooner state pay 4 percent of the first $10 million in adjusted gross revenues, 5 percent of the next $10 million in AGR, and then 6 percent of all revenues over $20 million,
Louisiana casinos pay much more than that to the state. The annual state gaming tax rate is now 21.5% of adjusted gaming revenues, while the casinos in Mississippi pay 8% in taxes. How is this fair? How can these casinos possibly compete?
Finding answers to this problem is not going to be easy, but state lawmakers will likely have to try to find some solutions in the very near future.