No new taxes. That's the message the casino managers we talked to want to send to state lawmakers in Jackson, as they debate bills proposed to squeeze more tax money from gaming. One casino general manager Bill Kilduff says "We currently pay 12-percent of gross revenues...that's a big tax where most businesses pay ten percent of their net revenues, not gross so proportionately we pay a much higher tax rate than any other business in the state."
Kilduff speculates that lawmakers are looking to raise gaming taxes because of a incorrect perception that the casinos are rolling in the bucks. But gaming executives point to last year's USM study that predicts higher taxes would immediately force some casinos out of business and cut thousands of jobs in the industry and in related businesses. "I think the biggest thing to keep in mind is gaming was brought in to stimulate an economic mulitiplier which it has very successfully done. What we're pointing out now is that the same effect can work the other way," warns casino manager Keith Crosby.
Casino representatives say it's ironic that the state spent 3-hundred million dollars to bring Nissan to Mississippi while at the same time considering higher taxes on them. Manager Neil Narter says "And the other reason they got Nissan was through the road improvements, the infrastructure and that came out of the casino taxes, so to get other industries you need the casino industry to keep the employees and the vendors."