County Endowment Fund builds giving in 84 counties without casinos

DES MOINES — Iowa counties which do not have a state-licensed casino in them did receive some gambling revenue again this year.

Iowa Gaming Association president Wes Ehrecke says the money is distributed through a program called the County Endowment Fund. He says the qualified community foundations in the 84 non-casino counties received $135,000 each this year and they have their own separate board directors to determine how the money is given out for their respective counties. The overall total given to the 84 counties as $11.7 million dollars.

Ehrecke delivered a report on the County Endowment Fund to a recent meeting of the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission. He says there are some requirements for the money. “Twenty-five percent of that has to remain in a permanent endowment,” Ehrecke explains. He says those endowments have grown from year-to-year to provide even more grants. The 19 state-licensed casinos to return a percentage of their profits to the non-profit groups that hold their licenses to to be distributed in the communities.

This program was created by the Iowa Legislature in 2004 to allow the counties without casino to receive some of the money too.

“In that time frame, 26,734 grants have been provided. $97.7 million — so I would imagine this upcoming year we could very well go over 100 million for this program,” Ehrecke says. Ehrecke says the foundations also work to get area residents to donate to the endowment fund to allow it to continue to grow and help their communities.

There is also a tax credit available for donations to the qualified community foundations.