Regulators raise taxes for Colorado casinos |

Regulators raise taxes for Colorado casinos

DENVER (AP) — State gambling regulators have reversed tax breaks for casinos and raised the tax rates by about 5 percent, though casino owners wanted to keep the old rates.

The commission reviews the casino tax structure each May and is required to set rates that encourage business growth and investment in the gambling industry.

Gov. John Hickenlooper replaced the five-member Colorado Limited Gaming Control Commission last summer after the commission approved the tax breaks. The new commission approved new rates on Thursday.

“We have packaged a very, very attractive regulatory and taxing environment for the industry, especially when you look at other jurisdictions, other states, where the taxes are as high as 50 percent,” commission chairman Robert Webb said.

According to The Denver Post ( ), the Colorado Gaming Association sought a 10 percent tax cut a year ago, citing three consecutive years of collective net losses.

Casinos reported net losses of about $12 million in 2010, in addition to losses the previous two years. Last year the industry posted a net profit of more than $7 million, when the lower tax rates were only in effect for half a year.

Ameristar Casino general manager Andy Hamblen said the lower taxes reversed three years of industry losses.

After the commission issued its decision Thursday, Hamblen said the industry, which generates an estimated 27,000 jobs in Colorado, hopes to continue to make a modest profit.

Hickenlooper had expressed concern about last year’s tax cut because of the potential impact on community colleges and communities, two primary beneficiaries of gambling-tax revenue.

Gambling tax revenue paid to the state during the last five years has averaged about $100 million annually.

The Post reported Friday that casinos in Black Hawk, Cripple Creek and Central City are expected to post gross revenue of $761 million in the fiscal year that ends in June, up 1 percent from the previous year.

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