Jackets Want Casino Tax

A venue management deal with Ohio State University may have provided some financial relief to the NHL’s ailing Columbus Blue Jackets, but the team is still looking for ways to stop the bleeding.

The Blue Jackets have reportedly been losing $12 million in operations annually, and with OSU now managing the team’s home Nationwide Arena, the Jackets are expecting to save roughly $1 million per year.

Still, $1 million in savings won’t necessarily cut it, so owner Mike Priest has another plan to help the team get its financial footing through casino taxes.

A 33 percent tax on revenues at a venue being built by Penn National Gaming could reportedly generate annually $24 million for the city and $16 million for the county.

“I think it is the most viable solution, and 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.”

But the Blue Jackets could have some company in the grab for casino cash.

Jason Pappas, an officer for the city’s Fraternal Order of Police Lodge, told the Dispatch the organization would like the casino funds directed to police and fire services.

“We believe that public safety is the primary duty of government, and we’d hope that as money starts to roll in, that the mayor and city council recognize that.”

Columbus officials have also considered raising taxes on car rentals, hotel stays and alcohol to shore up funds for the team. A 2009 chamber of commerce report said the district surrounding the Nationwide Arena generates $1.6 billion in sales annually and the loss of the team could prove devastating to the area.