The officials of the Harrah’s Casino in Louisiana are currently challenging the state’s Department of Revenue regarding tax payments. The Department contends that the venue owes tens of millions in back hotel taxes. The casino says they don’t.
Officials of the casino claim that a law from 2001 exempts them from having to pay sales taxes as well as occupancy taxes to the state from hotel rooms that they comp or provide at a discount rate to customers. They also claim the taxes do not have to be paid on rooms they comp at other hotels. However, the Department of Revenue sees it differently. They feel that if Harrah’s gives away a hotel room they should pay the hotel taxes on that room. According to one estimate, the casino owes around $40 million in hotel taxes dating back 18 year.
Harrah’s is currently trying a legal effort to see their monopoly license extended in the state. House Bill 544 would extend their license and would specify that the casino does not have to pay the hotel room taxes in the future.
Those who receive the tax money are not happy with the Harrah’s attempt to skip out on taxes. This includes the Superdome Commission and the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. State Senate President John Alario is also in agreement.
The Senate President feels that the state has a good case and will be able to win out in the end when it comes to the taxes. If the Department of Revenue is successful, then the casino operator would have to pay hotel taxes for discounted as well as comped hotel rooms for the existing hotel as well as the hotel that the property plans to build in the future, if their license is extended.
It has been estimated that the casino would be paying around $2 to $3 million to the Convention Center and Superdome. If the new hotel is created, the amount would increase to around $4 to $6 million annually.