UPDATE: Casino Tax Revenue Checks Dramatically Increase for Ohio Counties

By: Randy Yohe Email
By: Randy Yohe Email

UPDATE 10/16/12 @ 6 p.m.
MEIGS COUNTY, Ohio (WSAZ) -- For many Ohio counties, the new casino tax revenues are the silver linings to some dark revenue clouds.

WSAZ.com has a breakdown of how this gambling tax money is helping struggling taxpayers cope.

The revenue amounts to tens of thousands of dollars for each county. Hundreds of thousands more are projected for the near future.

So, how are county commissions spending it?

Some county leaders say it doesn't even offset the drastic county funding cuts from Columbus. In Meigs County, one on the state's poorest counties where the sales tax went up a half cent for the first time in nearly 25 years, the casino tax revenue is being called a godsend.

Meigs County commissioners say a third of their $4 million annual budget goes to the sheriff's department, a third goes to pay county employees health care, and the other third goes to pay the county employees. And they say they could use three or four more thirds just to keep the lights on.

The October casino tax payout for Meigs County is double the last quarter -- more than $41,000.

We asked some Meigs County residents how they think that money should be spent. Their replies involved more spending toward schools, fixing back roads and possibly a new courthouse.

The Meigs County Courthouse was built before the Civil War. Inside the ancient crumbling structure, dilapidation is everywhere. It costs $3,000 a month just for utility bills, so commissioners welcome the extra casino tax money.

A new casino opened in Columbus last week, and one will open in Cincinnati the first of the year. That makes the future tax revenue projections huge.

For Meigs County, that’s $359,000 next year and nearly $500,000 the year after that.

Anderson says those projected casino tax thousands could be the financial cornerstone for a new $10 million courthouse annex.

For the people who think casino tax revenues should go to kids and education, the first distributions to Ohio school districts begin Jan. 31 of next year.

Ohio casino tax revenues also help fund the state racing commission, law enforcement training and programs that address problem gambling and addictions.



ORIGINAL STORY 8/7/12
LAWRENCE COUNTY, Ohio (WSAZ) -- It's not just the players and house cashing in at Ohio’s new casinos.

The first of many quarterly casino tax checks to all 88 Ohio counties were sent out July 31. The amount is based on population.

And what will our Southern Ohio counties do with the revenue? WSAZ.com has the answers.

For Lawrence County, including folks having lunch at the Snack Shak, the first quarterly tax check from the new Toledo and Cleveland casinos totals about $54,500.

County Commissioner Les Boggs says the new revenue is not earmarked and will go into the county general fund to pay county bills.

“We'll use it to pay for things like utility bills, or for line items like helping pay for insurance for county employees,” Boggs said.

So, where does the Tuesday domino club and others at the Snak Shack think the casino tax cash should go? They told us the cash should help needy children, as well as go for schools and roads.
Boggs says county roadwork is funded by gas taxes.

Lawrence County Auditor Jason Stephens points out that the ever-growing drastic yearly decreases in the local government funds that come from Columbus greatly offset the casino tax revenue.

“We're getting about three hundred thousand dollars less in 2012 than we got in 2011,“ Stephens said.

But Boggs says when the Columbus and Cincinnati casinos soon open, things will change.

“When it gets up to five or six hundred thousand dollars a year, that will make a difference," he said.

Boggs says by the time the big casino cash comes in, there will be a plan for spending.
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The Southern Ohio county casino tax revenue breakdown is as follows:

  • Lawrence County -- about $54,500
  • Jackson County -- about $29,000
  • Meigs County -- $20,600
  • Gallia County -- $27,000
  • Scioto County -- about $69,000
  • Vinton County -- $11,500

And beginning in January 2013, Ohio school districts will see their shares of casino tax revenues.


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