Appeals Court To Decide Whether Lawrenceburg Should Share Gambling Money With Franklin County


Appeals Court To Decide Whether Lawrenceburg Should Share Gambling Money With Franklin County

By Abrahm Hurt

INDIANAPOLIS– An Indiana appellate court heard oral arguments Monday over whether Lawrenceburg should have to pay more than $3 million in riverboat gambling revenue to Franklin County.

Lawrenceburg is appealing a ruling by a Decatur County judge who determined Franklin County is owed the money because of a 2006 revenue-sharing agreement between the city and county.

Lawrenceburg had paid $500,000 annually to Franklin County as part of a revenue-sharing agreement but stopped the payments in 2014 citing 30% decline in riverboat revenues since 2006. The judge ruled that Franklin County was owed $2.5 million for five years’ worth of missed payments, plus interest.

Franklin County argued that even with the decline, Lawrenceburg’s revenue was still about $20 million annually.

“Interestingly, the city of Lawrenceburg cites financial insecurity and instability but if you look at the designated evidence they put in front of the trial court, it’s actually a case of income was relatively flat,” said attorney Paul Jefferson, who represented Franklin County at Monday’s hearing before three appellate judges.

Lawrenceburg says the agreement is void because there were no appropriations after 2006 for the amounts that were allegedly owed, even though the money continued to be paid as a grant.

“This agreement could never have been appropriated for,” said Alice Morical, who is representing Lawrenceburg. “If the parties wanted to enter into an enforceable contract that would not be void under the statute, they could have agreed to pay $500,000 a year for 10 years.”

Instead, she said, the duration of the contract was ambiguous.

Morical said when the agreement was signed, payments were discussed as a contribution and would continue if Lawrenceburg continued to be financially stable with a steady flow of revenue. She argued that for the agreement to be a contract, Franklin County would have had to give Lawrenceburg something in return. The county, she said, offered nothing of value.

The judges focused their questions largely on Lawrenceburg, trying to determine why the agreement shouldn’t be considered binding.

FOOTNOTE: Abraham  Hurt is a reporter for, a news website powered by Franklin College journalists.

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