Thanks to the County Endowment Fund program in Iowa, 84 counties without a state-licensed casino received grants totaling $10.7 million last year.
Since 2004, community foundations in the 84 counties have received $136 million. These funds help build infrastructure, increase tourism, address environmental conservation and bring cultural attractions to the state.
Each of the 84 counties given $160,000 from Iowa gambling revenue
There are 19 commercial casinos in Iowa, four tribal casinos and a horse racing venue. Iowa online casinos are still prohibited, although after the state made online sports betting legal, there’s optimism that online casinos will become legal in The Hawkeye State soon.
Foundations in the counties without casinos get eight-tenths of 1% of the gambling tax. That amounted to $160,000 to each county in the past year.
Provisions in the program require the county foundations to hold 25% of the funds in a permanent endowment. The remaining funds can fund grants for nonprofits and charitable causes. The endowment fund is designed to attract additional donations and provide a permanent source of funding.
Counties with casinos awarded millions of dollars each year
Nonprofit organizations in the 15 counties with casinos must distribute a percentage of the funds they receive from gaming taxes each year. That money goes to nonprofits in their counties. A board of directors in each county determines distribution of the funds.
In 2021, the Regional Development Authority serving Scott County and also the Quad Cities region awarded the largest grant amount of over $6 million. Their emphasis areas are economic development, arts and culture, and also human services.
This month, the Palo Alto County Gaming Development Corporation awarded $1.9 million to nonprofits, government entities and schools within the county. The corporation’s grant emphasis is:
- Economic development
- Human services and education
- Libraries/museums/community gatherings/arts
- Public safety/health/wellness
Nonprofits received 48 grants, with the largest one for $63,581 and the smallest one at $1,184. Seventeen cities received grants based on a per-capita amount. The largest was $171,938, and the smallest grants were $15,000. Six schools in the county received grants, with the largest being $119,100 and the smallest being $14,850. They also shared an award of $50,000.
Overall, the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission reports that the 19 state-regulated casinos contributed $1 billion in economic impact to the state last year.
Iowa has several different tax rates on gambling
According to the American Gaming Association, Iowa riverboat and land-based casinos are subject to a graduated tax rate on electronic gaming devices and table game revenue that ranges from 5% to 22%.
Racino gaming revenue is taxed at 22% or 24%, depending on various conditions, including prior-year revenue and also whether the racino has a riverboat casino in its host county.
Iowa sports betting revenue is subject to a state tax rate of 6.75%, tied with Nevada for the lowest rate in the country. Sportsbook operators must share 0.75% with their affiliated casino’s sponsoring charitable organization. They are further subject to a 0.25% federal excise tax applied to wagering handle.