he Louisiana Senate approved a measure that would provide the state gaming industry with an $83 million tax break over the next five years.
Senate Bill 5 is sponsored by state Sen. Ronnie Johns, R-Lake Charles, who said it would help an industry that has lost much of its business during the pandemic and employs 20,000 people during normal times.
SB5 would allow the 15 riverboat casinos, the Harrah’s New Orleans casino and the four racetrack slot casinos all to issue up to $5 million annually in promotional play credits that would be exempt from the state 21.5% tax on gross gambling revenue, The Advocate reports. Johns told senators that the typical casino offers $15 million of promotional play credits per year.
The bill would cost $83 million over five years, according to the Legislative Fiscal Office, without any requirement that the casinos create jobs or make new investments. The bill is now before the Ways and Means Committee. If it passes that committee, it also must win approval from the full House.
“Of all the industries around the state, I think the restaurants and the gaming industry has been hurt probably the most and they are on their heels,” said Johns, as reported by WWL. “For every dollar of promotional play that is used, it generates $5 in state revenue. We know that it works. If it didn’t work, the industry wouldn’t even be doing it today.”
Johns says casinos use promotional play wager as a marketing tool to attract customers to their casino. The tax break will cost the state an estimated 11-million dollars a year. Alexandria Senator Jay Luneau expressed his support. “As you might have heard, I’m not a real big fan of all of these tax breaks but I think that this is one that legitimately works, I really do,” said Luneau.