Indiana House Drops Casino Admissions Tax

In a 74-22 vote, the Indiana House approved legislation sponsored by state Rep. Todd Huston (l.) that would end casinos' $3 admission tax and add a new 3 percent tax on gambling revenue, beginning in July 2018. Huston called the admission tax "antiquated" and said the new tax "modernizes" the state's gaming tax structure.

The Indiana House approved 74-22 state Rep. Todd Huston’s legislation that would eliminate casinos’ admissions tax and impose a new 3 percent tax on gambling revenue starting July 2018. Huston said, “As you step on a riverboat casino you are charged . This antiquated way of charging that tax has stood in the way of progress for much too long.” He added the new tax “modernizes” Indiana’s gaming tax structure.

The nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency said the change is expected to reduce revenue to Northwest Indiana local governments by a total of $4.5 million between 2018 and 2022. But that’s an improvement over earlier versions of the bill that would have cost regional governments $9.8 million.

House Minority Leader Scott Pelath, whose district includes the Blue Chip Casino, said locals still could lose funds under changes in the bill. “It’s sort of inching, sometimes glacially, sometimes a little bit more quickly, in the right direction. I do think it needs more work,” he said.

The proposal also is designed to help Indiana casinos better compete with tribal operations by ending the “double taxation” of casinos having to pay state income tax on money paid to the state in wagering taxes.

Huston said, “This bill will continue, I’m sure, to evolve as the session continues, and I will continue to have lots of conversations with interested stakeholders.”