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Opinion: City hurts itself by supporting Cowlitz Tribe casino bid

Filed Under: Casino Stalker | Opinion
More on: cowlitz, revenue sharing, washington

Artist's rendering of the proposed Cowlitz Casino Resort.

Writer questions why the city of La Center, Washington, is supporting the Cowlitz Tribe casino despite a lack of revenue sharing:
La Center has four existing cardrooms that are taxed by the city at a rate of 10 percent of revenues. That puts more than $3 million a year into La Center’s general budget, or about two-thirds of the city’s annual revenues. Irish has long said the construction of the tribe’s casino doesn’t mean the end to the La Center cardrooms. The cardrooms know that’s not the case.

If the cardrooms don’t survive, how does the City of La Center replace two-thirds of its annual revenue? Irish says that will be done by the development of the city’s land at the I-5 junction. But, the city has no study or projections as to what it can generate at the junction and reasonable indicators suggest it won’t be anywhere close to $3 million a year.

Unfortunately, private companies don’t have to disclose any of their sales information, including sales tax collected, according to the Department of Revenue. When the City of Woodland was preparing for the arrival of its Walmart, former Mayor Chuck Blum told The Reflector that it would generate about $25,000 per month of revenue for the city. I have recently been told that projection was a little optimistic.

For the sake of conversation, let’s just go with the $25,000 per month figure as an example. La Center would have to have the equivalent of 10 Walmarts developed at the junction to match the $3 million in revenue it would lose if the cardrooms closed.

Remember, the city would not receive any revenue from the Cowlitz casino. There was a time when La Center officials were hopeful the tribe would generously reimburse the city for lost revenue from the cardrooms, at least for a few years. Cowlitz Tribe Chairman Bill Iyall told me himself that the tribe had no reason to do that.

Get the Story:
Ken Vance: For La Center, why isn’t $3 million in the hand better than the unknown in the bush? (The Battle Ground Reflector 6/18)

Related Stories:
Cowlitz Tribe gains state approval for Class III gaming compact (05/09)

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