Iowa Legislators Push for Lower Casino Taxes to Boost Sector

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The Brief

Legislators in Iowa are pushing for a reduction in casino taxes. A plan that would lower tax rates for the state’s thriving casino business has been approved by a subcommittee of the Iowa House of Representatives. The aim is to increase the competitiveness of the state’s casino sector.

Lowering Taxes for Casinos

Supporters of the plan hope that a tax reduction will enable the 19 actual casino locations in Iowa to compete more effectively with those in neighbouring states, particularly Nebraska and Illinois. Central to the project is House Study Bill 719, which reduces the progressive tax rate applied to revenues from table games and slot machines. Casinos that generate gross gaming revenues of $3 million or more are currently subject to a tax rate of 22% under current legislation. The proposed law aims to gradually reduce this rate over the next three fiscal years, with the goal of reaching 19% by 2027.

Broader Tax Discussion

This proposal is being discussed in Iowa as part of broader tax reform debates. The Governor has recently proposed lowering individual state income tax rates, demonstrating the state’s commitment to creating a business-friendly environment. The need for fair tax relief was highlighted by Representative Jane Bloomingdale, who stated: “We are lowering taxes for businesses, we are lowering taxes for individuals, but we are not lowering taxes for casinos. That doesn’t seem fair at all.”

Booming Gambling Industry in Iowa

The booming gambling industry in Iowa provides the context for this discussion. The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission recently released data highlighting the economic importance of the gambling sector by showing that the state’s gambling revenues have risen to over $4 billion in 2023.

Our Assessment

The planned tax reduction for casinos in Iowa could further improve the business climate in the state and increase the competitiveness of the casinos. However, it remains to be seen whether the reduction in casino taxes will actually lead to the hoped-for positive effects.

Sources: Iowa Capital Dispatch, Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission, House Study Bill 719.

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