Saturday, February 15, 2014

Courier-Journal Reports Gambling Slide Shrinks Foundation Funds

From the Courier-Journal:

Since its opening 15 year ago, Horseshoe Southern Indiana has showered $202 million on community foundations in Harrison and Floyd counties — helping to pay for things ranging from a new hospital to Little League fields to educational grants.

But while the money is still flowing, an overall downturn in Indiana’s gambling industry is slowing the pace, with donations from the Harrison County gambling boat dropping 40 percent in the past six years.

It’s “a definite concern,” said Jerry Finn, executive director of the Horseshoe Foundation of Floyd County, based in New Albany, which funds nearly $3 million a year in scholarships and grants to help nonprofit groups serve the community.

Directors for the bigger, richer Harrison County Community Foundation also are mindful of the drop in funding but say they have salted away a healthy endowment of $145 million to help weather such times of shrinking gambling profits. They’ve also started focusing on things that have a broad community impact, such as education programs that benefit a wider audience.

Given the hundreds of millions that the casino has provided, recent cutbacks represent “a drop in the bucket,” said Steve Gilliland, the foundation’s president and chief executive officer. “It’s almost impossible for me to say, ‘Woe is us.’”

Horseshoe Southern Indiana’s downturn has been mirrored in the sagging fortunes of the state’s casino industry, where total overall revenues slipped to $2.45 billion in 2013, compared with $2.68 billion in 2012 — the lowest mark in eight years. Analysts blame new casinos in Ohio, a sluggish economic recovery and competition from other gambling options such as pull-tabs in taverns

Horseshoe, previously known as Caesars Indiana, also took an individual hit in 2011-12 during the temporary closing of the Sherman Minton Bridge and Ohio River flood-forced shutdowns.

Consequently, the two local foundations have seen a combined 40 percent drop in donations flowing from the boat, when comparing pre-recession 2007 funds with 2013, according to the foundations’ figures. The two groups received a total of $20.6 million in 2007 and $12.2 million last year.

See the full article here: