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Kent City Council to consider gambling tax cut

The Great American Casino in Kent has asked the City Council to reduce its gambling tax because of heavy financial losses. - COURTESY PHOTO
The Great American Casino in Kent has asked the City Council to reduce its gambling tax because of heavy financial losses.
— image credit: COURTESY PHOTO

The Kent City Council will consider an ordinance at its 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 2 meeting at City Hall to cut the city's gambling tax on gross revenues of casino card rooms from 11 percent to 7 percent in order to help the Great American Casino reduce its losses.

The council's Operations Committee voted 2-1 on March 19 to reduce the tax. At least four of the seven council members must approve the tax cut.

Operators of the Great American Casino, the only casino in the city, requested the reduction in a Feb. 26 letter to the city. They wanted the gambling tax reduced to 4 percent. The casino had net operating losses of $649,177 in 2011 and $533,038 in 2012.

Council President Dennis Higgins and Councilman Les Thomas voted in favor of the tax cut that would be lowered through Dec. 31, 2016. Councilwoman Elizabeth Albertson, sitting in on the committee meeting for the absent Jamie Perry, voted against the reduction.

Great American paid $335,000 in gambling taxes to the city last year and is expected to pay about $330,000 this year, said John Hodgson, city chief administrative officer. At 7 percent, the city would see that annual amount drop by about $120,000. A 4 percent rate would drop the city revenue by about $210,000 per year.

The council will discuss a proposal to remove the city's ban on casinos at its 5:30 p.m. Tuesday workshop before the regular meeting. Great American operates under a grandfather clause adopted by the council as part of the 2010 Panther Lake annexation to the city, which included the casino.

Great American operators are interested in possibly moving to another site in Kent, but cannot do so unless the city removes its ban.

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