Casinos, county expected to settle lawsuits over taxes

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 14, 2010

Lawsuits filed by two casinos since September in protest of values placed on parts of their properties are headed for a settlement, Warren County Tax Assessor Richard Holland said.

“We’re going to sit down and talk with them more and see what we can do,” Holland said when asked to assess his office’s efforts to work with Ameristar and Riverwalk casinos. Both filed appeals with supervisors to lower their property tax liability for 2009 and, after those failed to meet expectations, the companies sued the county in protest.

In court papers, Ameristar says values on the structure that connects the parking garage to the main casino and on its cemented cofferdam translates into a tax bill of more than $1,662,359, an amount the casino claims is $437,842 higher than its own calculations based on state-set criteria. In Riverwalk’s appeal, the value for 2009 is pegged by the casino at $30,735,385, also based on state law and valuation procedures. The county valued Vicksburg’s most recently completed casino at $78,172,733.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

Tax bills on real and personal property for 2009 were mailed in December and are due before Feb. 1 before interest and penalties kick in.

Settlement on individual values can take months to hash out. An appeal filed by Horizon Casino in 2004 over its values for that year stretched into July 2005 before values were agreed upon. Final values on its nine parcels ended up $2.1 million less than what the county had originally set.

Valuations set by Holland’s office are used to collect revenue for the county, the City of Vicksburg and the Vicksburg Warren School District. All three depend heavily on property tax revenue, especially school and county operations, which do not share in sales tax collections as the City of Vicksburg does.

This year’s tax rates remain level for all three entities. Casinos in Mississippi not affiliated with Native American tribes also pay state and local revenue-based taxes based on revenues, in addition to property taxes. Their hotels, restaurants and beverage services also collect sales taxes and, locally, bed and tourism taxes.


Contact Danny Barrett Jr. at