Cuyahoga County pushes tax on free casino rooms
Written by Associated Press   
Friday, 27 September 2013 10:11

CLEVELAND (AP) — Ohio's most populous county is pushing a plan to raise $2 million annually by taxing hotel rooms the Cleveland casino gives away as perks to high rollers.

Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald wants to apply the county's 5.5 percent hotel tax to the rooms, on top of a 3 percent tax imposed by the city on the giveaways.

Northeast Ohio Media Group reported Friday (http://bit.ly/1bKZ0Y8 ) the proposal is aimed at Rock Ohio Caesars, which gives away as many as 100 rooms a night at its nearby Ritz Carlton hotel. But the extra tax would also be levied on any hotel room given away for free in the county.

Applying the county tax could raise as much as $2 million a year, and would be split between the regional tourism bureau — Positively Cleveland — the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Global Center for Health Innovation and the county, said county fiscal officer Mark Parks.

Park said the goal is to recapture lost revenue. If approved, the tax would begin in January.

The casino does not oppose the idea, said spokeswoman Jennifer Kulczycki, who said the casino's interests are aligned with county and tourism officials who benefit from the county tax.

The Ohio Hotel and Lodging Association calls the move illegal and "unjust."

"The hotels will effectively have to pay the tax out of their revenue, effectively making it a new tax on the hotels," said association executive director Matthew MacLaren.

It would be up to the companies giving away the rooms to determine who pays the tax, Parks said.

The city took in $476,556 in taxes in August for hotel stays in July, records show.


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