- Bally’s Tiverton and Lincoln casinos have filed lawsuits.
- The casinos want the 2020 tax assessments to be lowered.
- Bally’s feels that the assessments did not accurately take into account the effect of the pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone in the United States, from individuals to businesses. When it comes to casino facilities, the venues were shut down for weeks if not months, and employees were left without work. The operators did not receive any revenues due to being inactive and after reopening, have been trying to reach pre-COVID revenue earnings.
For casinos in Rhode Island, times are tough, and lawsuits were recently filed in an attempt to lower tax payments to gain ground from COVID closures.
Bally’s Files Lawsuits Against Tiverton and Lincoln
The most recent lawsuit to be filed comes from Bally’s Corporation. The brand has filed a suit against Tiverton for its casinos located in the city. Back in February, a similar lawsuit was filed for the Bally’s Twin River casino.
Spokeswoman for Bally’s, Patti Doyle, stated recently that the lawsuits were filed in order to help the facilities reach tax stabilization agreements in each town. Basically, a specific amount must be paid based on an assessment, no matter if the business is doing well or not so great.
According to Doyle, the casinos are hopeful that they can reach a deal outside the court system that reflects the reality of operations when considering the restrictions and closures that the venues faced due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Failing to Consider the Pandemic Closures
The casinos are hopeful that the issue will be resolved outside of court, but the lawsuits show that negotiations are not getting anywhere. In the filing, it states that the towns did not take into account the effect of the pandemic closures on the casinos when it comes to taxes.
The casinos claim that assessments from 2021 were illegally high. The casinos were shut for several weeks in early 2020 and then again in the winter. Even when the venues were back in business, the capacity limits were in place along with restrictions on hours and of course COVID protocols.
The towns assessed the properties at the end of 2020 to figure out tax payments. The casinos say that the officials should have considered the closings and restrictions at this time based on economic obsolescence. This term refers to the loss of value due to something aside from the property, which in this case would be the pandemic.
The Tiverton Casino was assessed at $60 million which sets taxes at just over $863,000. The casino feels the assessment should have been around $41 million which brings taxes to just over $266,000. In Lincoln, the assessment came in at $108 million at 2020’s end. The most recent tax bill was $2.7 million. Both casinos appealed the ruling, but no resolution was provided, hence the move to court.
It will be interesting to see if the towns come to some type of agreement now that the lawsuits have been filed or if officials will stand their ground when it comes to the tax assessments of the casinos.