The licensing fee for horse tracks is the key bargaining point. It started at $75 million in the House, then went up to $100 million. The Senate jumped it to $400 million and now the tracks are trying to bring it back down.
Sources report that investment bankers put the price at $125 million in meetings with lawmakers yesterday. Lawmakers need more than that to support property tax relief.
Will the tracks pay $200 million? Will lawmakers settle for that? When is the price right?
The answers will determine the success of the negotiation and possibly the future of property tax relief.
Indiana gaming law expert Ed Feigenbaum thinks all of the above may be too cheap. Feigenbaum writes at the Indiana Legislative Insight, "We also have heard from some that suggest last week’s surprise buyout offer of $675 million for the Resorts East Chicago Casino suggests that the slots at the track advocates are getting off cheap at $400 million."
Assuming lawmakers are foolish enough to allow slots at the horse race tracks this year, the decision at what to peg that buy-in franchise fee will determine just how rich the horse race track owners become. The opportunity and desire to reward compliant legislators is as pronounced as it ever gets in the legislative process.