SB 152, which provides for expanded gaming in our state, crossed over from the Senate to the House of Representatives a few weeks ago. Since then, a joint House committee with three separate subcommittees has been studying the bill, and identified a number of details it would change from the license fee to which state agency regulates a casino bill the Senate passed earlier this spring.
Rep. Neal Kurk who chaired the revenue sub-committee has identified several proposed changes to the Senate’s version of the bill:
- Change the $80 million license fee in the bill to a minimum bid of $50 million. The state could then get whatever the market would bear, he said.
- Limit the single casino license to 20 years with an option that a casino could reapply for it. It’s currently a 10-year license with an annual renewal fee.
- Increase the tax rate on slot machines to a minimum of 33.3 percent (it’s 30 percent) and to a minimum of 16 percent on table games (not the 14 percent in the bill).
- Lower the money given to the host community from 3 percent to 1 percent and dedicate no money to the North Country. The Senate bill allots that area 10 percent of net machine income. Kurk’s committee would have all the casino revenue go to the state’s general fund, and it could be allocated to different projects or areas from there.
- Require a casino developer to invest at least $400 million into a casino and prohibit any of that investment from including the licensee fee, land purchase or road improvements. The bill now requires a minimum investment of $425 million that can include those other items.
The joint committee is expected to vote on this bill Wednesday, May 15 at a yet to be determined time.