LEGISLATURE 2011: Gaming Control presents revenue ideas

The chairman of the Gaming Control Board told lawmakers Tuesday it would take fee increases totaling $28.2 million to eliminate its general fund support and make the agency self-supporting.

Mark Lipparelli told the Senate Finance Committee that would require significant fee increases to the industry, which has had the same economic problems as the rest of the state's businesses.

"Generally, the response from industry was they didn't want to see any fee increase at all," he said.

Lipparelli pointed out that revenues from gaming fees are down substantially from their peak of $1 billion, bringing in just $829 million last year.

Gaming Control was asked by lawmakers during the 26th special session a year ago to develop a plan to become self-supporting.

The proposed Gaming Control budget for the coming two years is $84.4 million, of which $50.2 million is general fund revenue.

Lipparelli presented four alternatives to raise the money, including raising the quarterly and annual fees on every slot machine in the state by $145 or raising the slot fees on nonrestricted licensees by $160 per machine.

The other two alternatives are scaled fees depending on how many slot machines the resort has, with large resorts paying significantly more per machine, or a larger flat fee.

Lipparelli said there are two increases contained in the governor's current budget plan.

The first would add fees for both the initial and final reviews of a gaming application. Gaming doesn't currently charge for those reviews.

Lipparelli said the hourly charge for investigating an applicant, raised from $80 to $135 by the 26th special session, would generate several million in revenue.

The proposed budget also would charge gaming employees $5 to change their employment from one casino to another. The $75 fee gaming workers must pay every five years would not change.

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