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July 19, 2010
Blue Jackets president: Casino tax would make great bailout cash
Columbus Blue Jackets president Mike Priest announced Friday that the "most viable solution" to his team's demand for a public bailout of its operating losses was to hand over revenues from a proposed tax on new downtown casinos to the team. "It wouldn't require any other money being used," Priest told the Columbus Dispatch. "But it's up to the public sector to decide how it wants to use that money."
That "wouldn't require any other money" is likely directed at Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman, who's said his only condition is that general fund revenues wouldn't be used. A casino tax, though, would otherwise likely go into the general fund, so it amounts to a city expense either way. (This is an excellent example of why subsidies are subsidies regardless of what public revenue source is used for them — once tax money is collected, it all ends up in the same place eventually.) It's also still unclear how much money a casino tax would generate, given that the casinos themselves don't start opening for another two years.
In any case, though, it seems like the tone of the discussion is now on how to bail out the Blue Jackets, not whether to do so — Priest remarked that he's pleased "the momentum has really picked up." And you only need to look one state over at Indianapolis to see what that can lead to.