A 40 to 1 shot for schools

Every day Amendment 68 ads tell us the new casino would pay $114million dollars in first year taxes and then up to 34 % of gross revenues in the years to come. These ads certainly lead people to believe that this one casino would generate more than the $114 million for schools. But the text specifies only the first year tax amount and then, “AND BY SUCH AMOUNTS THAT ARE RAISED THEREAFTER.” So what might those “thereafter” amounts be?

The 41 operating casinos currently in Colorado paid a total of just over $104 million in 2013. To be clear, 41 casinos paid a total of nearly $10 million less than 1 new casino would  be paying if these pie-in-the-sky projections were to come true. Is it possible that the new casino would do that much more business? What am I not understanding?

We are supposed to believe that this 1 casino would be so busy that it would pay more than 40 times the average tax paid by the other casinos in the state. Even if we factor in that the racetrack operation would pay 34% on adjusted gross revenues – 14% higher than the others – the amount paid is still 40 times higher in real dollars. If you believe this will happen, then by all means vote for amendment 68.

Keep in mind of course that if the new casino was some 25 times busier than any of the others, some if not most of the current ones would be forced to close and the taxes they pay – an insignificant average of about $2.5 million each in 2013 – would be lost.  The 41 casinos currently employ an estimated 9,100 employees who pay income, property and sales taxes not included in the casino numbers because some of those folks will certainly find work at the new operation.

There must be a reason the state association of school boards is opposed to this amendment.

Craig Masters

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