CIB solution is simple, a bit scary

April 14, 2009
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sportsIt may seem absurd. No, scratch that, it does seem absurd. But there’s a simple solution to solve the Capital Improvement Board’s $47 million budget shortfall. Legalized sports gambling.

That proposal won’t see the light of day during the current CIB debate, but sooner or later, some brave politician will broach the idea. I’m betting sooner, rather than later. And this is why. Legalized sports gambling has long been the garbage route of organized crime. But lets face it, it’s a multi-billion-dollar business. And if it’s taxed, it would very easily slam shut the CIB’s shortfall.

Already, Nevada, Oregon, Delaware and Montana have legalized sports gambling. New Jersey wants it. And—gasp—Iowa is looking hard at it. Yes, Iowa, with many of the same Midwestern values as Indiana.

But the domino that will trigger Indiana’s move is this; Sooner or later some community somewhere—maybe in Iowa—will use the taxes from legalized sports betting to build an arena or stadium, maybe even expand a convention center. Eventually a city or region will use the money to lure a professional sports franchise. And suddenly, legalized sports betting is a necessary evil to compete as a city housing a team or a dream to be a convention capital. Indianapolis will simply have to have it to keep up.

Sure, there will be protesters. The NCAA is certain to be leading that parade. But by the time it gets to that point, it won't matter.

Politicians will eventually tell themselves—and their constituents—how much different is it to place a bet on a pony at Hoosier Park than to make a wager on the Indianapolis Colts? That line will be blurred, and crossed. 

Sure, it seems absurd now. But once upon a time, so did a state-run lottery in Indiana. And so did Hoosier homed pari-mutuel horse tracks. And river boat casinos. Given the history of this state—and its infatuation with being a major league city, legalized sports betting in Indiana doesn’t seem to face long odds at all.
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  • I like the point about the difference of betting on ponies or football. The racinos made financial projections in a different economic climate and will be struggling to make the debt payments. If the new racinos go bust this makes the unemployment problem worse and the expected tax revenue is gone. I think the answer lies in a casino at Market Square with sports betting. CIB sells MS and the state receives a payment for a new casino. The new casino downtown will have some fancy TIF zone that funnels money to the CIB and the CIB can go back to not using spreadsheets and pesky calculators.
  • Dang Anthony! :eek: going out on a limb there!

    Do you honestly think Mayor Dullard and Gubner Mitchy gonna let this happen? HE!! n0!

    I am sure all those folks who paid 250k - 1m for their homes on the East side of DT are just wild about putting a Casino/bookie joint in their neighborhood! At least its a step above Dullard's idea of putting a bus terminal there (Now that he's been the laughing stock of national media about getting swindeled of his cell phone! :lol: )

    Safety first! wasn't that his platform? Sure, lets OPEN UP A BOOKIE JOINT ACROSS THE STREET FROM CITY HALL!

    needs more cricket fields and chinatowns

    This gets sadder by the day.
  • I'm surprised that there have been no proposals to tax incomes of our professional athletes. For example, a 1% tax on Colts, Pacers, Fever, and Indians salaries would likely cover the bulk of the annual budget deficit and barely make a dent in those high Colts and Pacers salaries. Any thoughts?
  • We need a regional approach that minimizes the overall tax increase on such items as alcohol, hotel rates and rental car rates.

    The stadia can be refinanced and costs need to be continually looked at.

    Let's only consider another gambling option as an absolute last resort
  • You seriously think it would take that long for the NCAA to get involved?

    With an agreement to host final fours, regional finals, opening rounds, etc.? I have a strong feeling that agreement would go away very quickly with legalized sports betting in the same home of the NCAA headquarters.

    I don't mind the idea of a casino/entertainment location downtown - but sports gambling in something the ICVA and others deem the Amateur Sports Capital of the World - YIKES!

    Indianapolis is headed for an identity crisis with these ideas!
  • In response to Hubert, I'm confident that it would be unconstitutional to single out and tax the income of pro athletes. While much larger, there is no fundamental difference between their salaries and yours. Maybe you meant that teams should pay a 1% tax on payroll? Surely you weren't implying that athletes would have to pay a special 1% income tax. They follow the same tax laws as the rest of us.
  • I believe there already is a Indiana tax in place that is intended to capture tax revenue from visiting pro-athletes.

    This tax just needs to be increased to fill the void the CIB owes to the professional teams.
  • Hubert, a 1 percent tax on the Colts' player payroll would have brought in $930,000 this year. The Pacers under the same formula would have brought in $700,000. A 1 percent tax on Fever players' salary would bring in about $7,200 in a good year. The Indians, and I'm speculating a bit here, would bring in just a bit more than the Fever. That's about $1.7 million a year by my calculation. And I'm guessing too, it wouldn't help the team attract free agents (or in the case of the Colts retain the free agents that come from within). Legalized sports gambling certainly isn't my idea, but I do think it's a reflection of a future reality. And I think city and state leaders need to decide, if this is what it takes to stay in the professional sports business, is sports an economic development engine we want to continue to pursue?
  • Every little bit helps, plus I support more team contributions to solve the problem considering the CIB is just trying to raise money to pay for higher financial obligations to the teams themselves.
  • First, Anthony's ideas will not fly for two reasons. I believe that the NCAA does not allow the final four and I would expect any of their bball tourneys to take place in States that allow sports book gambling. I believe that same prohibition is there with the NFL when it comes to the Superbowl. So unless we want to undercut a basic part of our sports strategy it will not fly.

    What gets sadder by the day is the number of people that feel insulting and miss using peoples names somehow makes their argument better. Truly sad.

    Something sticks in my head that an agreement between the Colts and City is that the City will not put an additional tax on their salaries. They of course are already taxed like any other person working in Indy.

    Is it fair to put additional tax on a pro ball player to pay for the CIB? Would City employees or State Employees appreciate a 1% additional tax on their salaries to pay for the public buildings they work in? I mean sure, the pros make more, but 1% of every city and State employee would raise a lot of money, and barely put a dent in their take home.
  • First, I think dtindymatt nailed the most important point. The NCAA will fight every effort to expand gambling to sports, particularly in its home state. I actually like the idea, but just feel that Indiana can't afford to be in the forefront on this because of its relationship with the NCAA.

    Second, a tax on professional athletes would be illegal. A Colts player making $2M a year can't be taxed at a higher income rate than a Well Point exec making the same salary. Imagine if the republican controlled senate could decide that everyone who belongs to a union must pay 1% more in taxes.

    Third, back to the gambling issue, why not pursue Internet Casinos/Poker websites? I believe one of the great plains states tried to legalize internet gambling, hoping all the offshore companies would move to their state and increase tax revenue. The Bush Administration issued an opinion that Internet gambling would violate the federal wiretap act, but most legal scholars who've studied the issue doubt that the act can be stretched that far.
  • Legalized sports wagering cannot happen in Indiana because of federal law. In 1992, the US Congress passed a law that bans sports wagering in all states except for Nevada, Delaware, Montana, and Oregon. The reason those states were exempted was because they had already instituted some form of sports wagering, i.e., they were grandfathered in. Some New Jersey legislators are pursuing a lawsuit to have the federal law tossed out on the grounds that it unconstitutionally provides a sports wagering monopoly to those four aforementioned states.

    Regarding the potential fight from the NCAA and NFL, look no further than what is happening in Delaware right now. That state's governor has proposed that the state reinstate sports wagering and the NCAA has pledged to block any NCAA-sanctioned tournament games from being played there. The NFL is also actively lobbying to defeat the Delaware proposal.

    In short, even if Indiana legislators wanted to legalize sports wagering, they'd be preempted by federal law.
  • All it takes is one court to overturn it, and the dominos on this thing start tumbling. Bigger walls have come tumbling down before. This is far from untouchable. It will be interesting indeed to see how it plays out in Delaware and New Jersey.
  • Indyman, You are correct. There is a provision in the Colts lease agreement that says the CIB must reimburse the Colts for any discriminatory taxes imposed on them, which essentially means anything that singles them out won't fly. Of course, they can have all the special discriminatory measures in their favor (anti-trust exemptions, tax-exempt bonds for private uses, public subsidies, etc.) their hearts desire.
  • Colts, Pacers, Fever players are already taxed. Because they play in the downtown professional sports district, their COIT (local option income taxes) goes to the CIB and the pay the cost of Conseco and Lucas Oil. That was part of the deal in the building of Conseco, a Steve Goldsmith deal by the way. Also, professional athletes from other teams who play in Conseco and Lucas Oil have their Indiana share of COIT paid into CIB. So athletes are already paying to help the situation.
  • Here is where the CIB's money is going- http://www.indy.gov/eGov/City/Controller/Documents/Budget/2009/Municipal%20Corporations/Capital%20Improvement%20Board.pdf

    Any suggestions on cuts? For example: Uniforms are $62,300. Why can't everone wear their own Navy or black slacks with white or black top?
  • Not defending them, but I am guessing the majority are for security uniforms which are not cheap, and shirts that have the Lucas Oil, or Conseco or whatever logos. That would be a place to look to cut, although I am sure there may be some security or hospitality reason to keep them.
  • I saw a blog tread on indystar.com when Mr. Crawford talked about his idea . In essense the reply suggested that any new casino be placed out in the empty buildings that used to be the airport. I am sure some one much more informed than I can come up with 20 reason why it can't work. But the parking is already there ( the biggest issue with a Union Station Casino)....it is not close to churches and schools ..the hotels would love the added traffic ...the infrastruture or access roads is already set up ..

    If the casino is the biggest possible money maker for the CIB ..i think this location would be the answer to alot of peoples fears...

    wpsbuffett in Indy
  • I think sticking it out at the old airport is a really bad idea. Why stick it out where it will do Indy little good? If it approved, and it shouldn't be, it needs to be downtown where it can provide added synergy with downtown restaurants, hotels and stores. Put it where the people are, not out in the boonies where people would have to travel to it.
  • 30 years ago i agree the airport was out in the boonies
    people are filling the two local casinos and at least i will say shelbville is out in the boonies and i live with in 20 minute from it

    seemed like a good idea to get around the biggest concern ..parking

    BUT from the stand point of being a downtown tourist spot and centrally located ...you are correct ...
  • Parking would not be an issue. in addition to the 10,000 and some parking spaces downtown and the fact that most going to it would be tourists walking from their hotels, I am sure they would build a massive parking garage. One thing casinos never lack is parking. Best two locations for it would be either on the MSA site as part of a massive redevelopment there, or where the Main Post Office is now as part of a entertainment venue. Not that I think they should approve it though.

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