Wes Ehrecke

The president of the Iowa Gaming Association presented the annual report on the County Endowment Fund during the recent meeting of the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission.

The casinos each have a nonprofit partner which receives a percentage of the gambling profits each year to be spent in those counties. IGA president Wes Ehrecke says the County Endowment Fund was created 11 years ago for the 84 counties where there is not state-licensed casino.

“Out of our gaming tax revenue approximately $130,000 goes to every non-casino county. They each have their community foundation, a separate board of directors by which they can then set up and allocate those dollars,” according to Ehrecke. The money has a couple of requirements.

He says 25% of the money has to stay in a permanent endowment and the rest has to go out in grants. Ehrecke says the counties are able to use the money each year to leverage more funding. Those 84 county foundations helped fund several projects last year.

“Nine million dollars to 2,175 grants that you see listed in there for all kinds of innovative and worthwhile projects,” Ehrecke says. The counties with casinos sent approximately $53 million to their nonprofits. Ehrecke says some of the money in the casino counties also helps surrounding counties.

The non-casino counties originally received one-half of one percent of the game tax revenue each year — but that was increased to eight-tenths of one percent in 2006. For more information on the program, go to www.iowacommunityfoundations.org.