You pull the handle; I'll run to the bank

Wisconsin State Roundup

Published September 1, 2005  | September 2005 issue

A recent state audit of tribal casino operations in Wisconsin showed an extremely profitable, growing industry among the state's 11 tribes, who operate 17 casinos and seven ancillary facilities dotted across the state.

Since 2000, casino operations have grown 34 percent to $1.2 billion by last year, with profit margins sitting at an eye-popping 43 percent—or $516 million. (The audit included but did not separate out revenue and profits from hotel and other nongaming, casino-based operations.)

Ironically, though not constitutionally obliged to pay state taxes, state tribal compacts renegotiated in 2003 have nonetheless made tribes some of the single biggest corporate taxpayers in the state, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The Forest County Potawatomi tribe paid about $40 million to the state last year—roughly 16 percent of tribal revenue. In contrast, the state's corporate income tax rate
is 7.9 percent.

Ronald A. Wirtz