The state is immediately gaining about 40 million dollars the tracks have paid into an escrow account — the back taxes the tracks owe because they’d been paying the lower, 20 percent rate charged the riverboat casinos for the past 10 months. Senate Appropriations Committee chairman Jeff Lamberti, a Republican from Ankeny, says it’s not exactly a windfall to the state. He says lawmakers had used the money in the past on environmental programs, and anticipated doing so again in the future, so the ruling helps maintain those funding levels. Lamberti says lawmakers shouldn’t rush back into a “special session” to address the gambling issue but should instead wait ’til the Iowa Supreme Court reacts to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Lamberti says it’s his understanding that lawmakers will wait ’til Iowa’s Supreme Court makes a final ruling on the case. Lamberti, who used to represent Prairie Meadows until redistricting went into effect last year, says the legislature should redo the tax rates for the tracks. Lamberti says he hopes the legislature debates what’s an appropriate tax rate for the gambling industry. State licensed riverboats and the three state race track/casinos in Altoona, Council Bluffs and Dubuque pay taxes to the state. The Native American casinos have never paid state taxes. This past spring, legislators and the Governor offered the three race tracks a deal that would have reduced their tax rates if the tracks would have dropped their lawsuit, but Prairie Meadows refused the deal.
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