Spectacle Entertainment’s gaming operations in Lake County are moving forward, despite the ongoing investigations of state regulatory bodies into alleged wrongdoings of some company’s executives. Still, a bill that would have been helpful for paying security at the new casino would proceed no longer, as it was not approved by the Indiana General Assembly.
A proposed amendment to a broad tax bill called HB 1065, would have made the planned Hard Rock Northern Indiana Casino pay a 1% food and beverage tax, with the proceeds set to be used to pay for public safety. The money that would have been generated as a result of the new tax, would have been in the range from $115,000 to $230,000 on an annual basis. The proposed changes were proposed by Senator Travis Holdman late in the session and had managed to get to a Senate-House conference committee, but was unsuccessful.
As explained by Senator Holdman, the amendment did not gather enough support from House members in order to proceed further and shared that the late timing was one of the reasons why the legislative effort was not successful, so he confessed that it was a late effort on his part to respond to a local request.
The Tax Would Have Provided Additional Funding to City Coffers
The tax was supported by Jerome Prince, the Mayor of Gary, who was willing to see a city-wide tax but, still, agreed to limit the tax’ scope.
Before the removal of the amendment, Mr. Prince explained that the proposed amendment was originally designed to involve the entire city but later, a compromise had been reached. The reduced scope was also able to accomplish most of the desired effect, which was an improvement of the security around the Gary casino.
The Hard Rock casino levy would have been imposed only on the revenue generated by the food and drinks in the casino, with the proceeds being redirected to city coffers in order to be used for various projects in favor of the city. The levy would have expired in 2025. As unveiled by Mr. Prince, there have been consultations with Spectacle, which had not objected to the new tax.
On the other hand, local tourism officials, who usually do not back food and beverage taxes, had this time made an exception for the amendment. This information was confirmed by Speros Batistatos, who heads the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority. Mr. Batistatos explained that it was their belief that a casino venue willing to tax itself would be the best way to re-invest such revenues that would go for development or the region or to help local authorities to close a budget gap.