A gambling deal emerged late yesterday. At least 26 republican senators say they’ll back the deal, which will be considered today in a Senate committee. It would establish equal tax rates for riverboats and race tracks in Iowa. Boats that want to permanently park and tracks that want to add table games could do so, for a 10 million dollar fee, and they’d have to pay a slightly higher tax rate, too. It would also require all 13 state-licensed gambling operations to pay a one-time assessment on profits. The 160-million dollars that assessment would raise would be used by the state to pay the back taxes due the race tracks because of their lawsuit against the state. The state’s riverboat owners are outraged, as they’re being asked to make a huge financial sacrifice because the race tracks sued. Troy Stremming is a vice president for Ameristar which operates a boat in Council Bluffs. Stremming says riverboat operators have tried to remain on the sidelines because the dilemma over gambling taxes is not something the boats created. He says it’s extremely unfair to ask the boats to pay to correct a problem that was created by the tracks. Stremming says the one-time fee for Ameristar’s Council Bluffs’ boat is 24 million dollars. Stremming says that’s half of the casino’s cash flow last year, and Stremming says he can’t think of another business in the state that would be taxed at such a hefty rate. Stremming says Ameristar came into the state, made millions of dollars worth of investments in facilities and now the state’s coming back and asking ’em to pay a tax rate that’s significantly higher, in additional to the one-time assessment of 24 million. Stremming says the riverboat industry will do everything it can to try to defeat the bill. Senate leaders say the deal will be debated in the full Senate early next week. Here are the proposed one time fees for the riverboats: Rhythm City in Davenport, 11.4 million; Mississippi Belle in Clinton, 4.358 million; Diamond Jo in Dubuque, 8.3 million; Catfish Bend in Burlington/Fort Madison, 4.589 million; Belle of Sioux City, 6.7 million; Isle of Capri Marquette, 6.475 million; Isle of Capri Bettendorf, 16.1 million; Harvey’s in Council Bluffs, 17.1 million; Ameristar in Council Bluffs, 24 million; Lakeside in Osceola, 9.272 million.
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