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Thursday, December 08, 2005

Slots Agreement Pleases No One

- The agreement in the Florida legislature on slots in Broward County features a flat 50% tax rate which is one of the highest in the country. The House and Senate split their difference on the number of machines per facility right down the middle, settling on 1500.

It is estimated the tax will raise at least $100 million for schools, which is far less than the $300 million to $500 million the pari-mutuels pledged to provide under an early plan that was based on a low rate and let each facility have at least 3,000 machines. [Sun-Sentinal]
The tax rate is far higher than the 35% advocated by the parimutuels, who claimed that a significantly higher rate would discourage them from building the extravagent gambling palaces that some had planned. Pompano Park harness was one of those with lofty aspirations, and the stock of their parent company reacted poorly in trading on the Nasdaq exchange on Thursday.
"Obviously, the four operators would have liked to have seen more, but the hope is that one day more machines will be allowed," said Brian McGill, an analyst at Susquehanna Financial Group.
"While we are encouraged that an agreement has been reached, the high tax rate (as expected) will likely limit investment dollars in the facilities," Deutsche Bank analyst Marc Falcone said in a report. [Reuters]
Nobody seemed particularly happy with the bill. Slots opponent Governot Bush said "I just don't think this is right for our state ... The fact that there's going to be a bunch of slot machines in Broward County doesn't warm my heart." [AP] Broward Senator Steve Geller, a key supporter of slots, complained "This is a terrible bill. I think it's setting them up for failure.....I believe they're doing this so the governor can lead the repeal (campaign) and say, 'See? Look what you have instead of those nice facilities you were promised.'" [Sun-Sentinal]

You can be sure that a repeal effort will soon be underway; gambling opponents are persistent if nothing else. Perhaps relentless is a more appropriate word. In Arkansas, opponents filed a lawsuit to block the installation of electronic “games of skill” at Oaklawn Park; and I previously mentioned the repeal effort soon to be underway in Pennsylvania.

- The U.S. House and Senate are working on tax relief bills for Gulf Coast businesses devastated by Hurricane Katrina. But inserted into the House version, at the behest of conservative Republican representatives, is a clause that would deny tax breaks to casinos and racetracks, as well as to massage parlors, liquor stores, country clubs, and tanning facilities.
Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., led the effort to carve those businesses out of the bill. He said Congress should not allow "our constituents' hard-earned tax dollars, in these kinds of record deficits, to subsidize the rebuilding of a massage parlor, a liquor store or a casino." [AP]
In deciding for the rest of us which businesses are too immoral to get help, the religious right has targeted a casino industry that employed about 50,000 people in Louisiana and Mississippi and generated more than $770 million a year in tax revenue. [LA Times]


Anonymous said...

...i always get a kick out of states who claim to oppose gambling, while at the same time offering a state lottery...not sure if Florida is one of those states, but it wouldn't surprise me...

...anyway, for those of you who get the charts (i.e. DRF's "Simulcast Weekly"), there's an interesting article by James Quinn this week about the upcoming Hollywood Futurity...interestingly, he seems to have confused the 2yo Harty colt A.P. Warrior with the 2yo Mandella filly A.P. crime in that, i've gotten horses with similar names confused myself...however, he refers to A.P. Surprise as a "colt", and goes on to speculate whether "he" can stretch out successfully from a maiden sprint...apparently, Quinn has a rather high opinion of A.P. Surprise (as did i, after witnessing her excellent debut run) you'd think he would've noticed that SHE ran last weekend in another maiden sprint, checking in THIRD as the stronger half of a 1/9 entry!...also, you'd expect him to be familiar enough with A.P. Warrior (the colt who actually WILL run in the Futurity) to know that he's already been two turns, scoring a sharp allowance victory over subsequent DQ'd winner Bob and John (not to mention running second to Brother Derek, another Futurity contender, in the Grade 2 Norfolk) this guy on dope or something???...for someone who's long-reputed to be an expert on Southern California racing, you'd think he'd be paying a little more attention...unbelieveable...anyway, he also had a few nice things to say about the Drysdale colt Your Tent Or Mine, so i guess he's not ALL bad... 8^)

Alan Mann said...

Not only does Florida have a state lottery, but it's grown significantly under the watch of Gov. Bush, who as you know, has fought the slots tooth and nail.