Proposed Florida casinos could have a 10 percent gaming tax

Proposed Florida casinos could have a 10 percent gaming tax
Posted by Howard Stutz
Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2011 at 11:23 AM
Florida lawmakers are considering setting a gaming revenue tax rate of 10 percent as part of the bill that could set the stage for casino development in Miami and other areas of southern Florida.

The rate would b the fourth-lowest gaming tax in the nation behind Nevada (6.75 percent), Atlantic City (8 percent) and South Dakota (9 percent).

According to the Miami Herald, casino taxes are shaping up as a key flashpoint in one of the fiercest debates in Tallahassee. Some Florida lawmakers want casinos to pay a larger share of their gambling revenue to the public, arguing the industry-backed legislation amounts to a sweetheart arrangement given how profitable the new casino resorts will be.

“This bill is not the best deal for Florida,’’ Rep. Joseph Abruzzo, a West Palm Beach Democrat, told the newspaper. “I’m not prepared to support anything with a tax rate that low. They can afford much higher. We know that.”

Massachusetts set a gaming revenue tax of 25 percent when it legalized three casino resorts in the state.

Las Vegas gaming executives told the newspaper that a grab for more public dollars would leave Florida with sub-par gambling resorts.

Andy Abboud, vice president of government relations for the Las Vegas Sands Corp., which is eyeing a Miami casino, called the 10 percent rate an “incentive” for developing quality resorts.

“It’s going to take some tax incentives to build multibillion-dollar resorts,’’ Abboud said. “As the tax rate goes up, people will peel off their levels of investment … Ten percent would put Florida in the lower tier for taxes. But it’s looking to be in the upper tier of development.”

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