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City, county governments to receive casino tax revenue

5 min read

Nearly a year after the first casino in the state of Ohio opened its doors, financial issues have come into play for just about everyone involved in these operations.

For cities and counties across Ohio, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The Ohio Department of Taxation issued a report last week showing the distribution of casino tax revenue per county. Over $35 million is set to be distributed to city and county governments statewide.

Cuyahoga County, where Cleveland is located, will receive the highest amount of revenue – over $1.7 million in casino taxes. Columbus’s Franklin County is a close second and will receive over $1.6 million.

Ensuring that the tax revenue generated by the casinos gets back to the state is important to the Ohio Casino Control Commission.

“As the regulator, we also have the responsibility to guarantee our citizens, local governments and school districts that tax dollars generated by gross casino revenues are audited and disbursed through the Ohio Department of Taxation,” Commission Chair Jo Ann Davidson wrote in the commission’s 2012 Inaugural Annual Report.

The state constitution mandates that while 51 percent of tax revenue goes back to city and county governments, schools must receive 34 percent, which will be distributed in proportion to enrollment. According to NPR, Ohio schools received about $38 million in casino revenue – only about $21 per student.

“Some school officials are concerned the legislature will once again look at the new casino funds and reduce the state’s contribution. [Ohio Association of School Board Officials member David] Varda says the extra money will have some impact, helping save a teaching position here or an extracurricular program there,” Ida Lieszkovszky of NPR wrote.

Despite the relatively small amount proportioned for schools, the casinos overall have done well in their first 10 months of operation.

According to the Columbus Dispatch, Hollywood Casino on the west side of Columbus raked in $20.9 million worth of revenue in March. This was an increase of 13.3 percent from the previous month.

However, there is one catch to the casinos’ success story, and it affects those individual patrons lucky enough to win: casino winnings must be reported on income taxes.

Much confusion regarding gambling and taxes has arisen in the days and weeks leading up to the April 15 tax deadline. The Ohio Department of Taxation has stated that “The casino operator shall issue a form W-2G (or form 1042-S for a foreign individual) reflecting the amount deducted and withheld, and also shall obtain any additional information deemed necessary.”

Ohio is currently home to six casinos and racinos (special casinos which also feature horse racetracks). The newest, Thistledown Racetrack, opened near Cleveland on April 9. At least five more gambling facilities are set to open in the state by 2014.

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