Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Possible Alternative to Illinois "Skin Tax": Annual License Fee for Strip Clubs

Posted By on Tue, Mar 20, 2012 at 11:23 AM

Micheal Ocello, prez of VCG Holdings, opposes the "skin tax"
  • Micheal Ocello, prez of VCG Holdings, opposes the "skin tax"
Instead of trying to tax strip clubs $5 per patron in order to fund aid to sexual assault victims, Illinois state senator Toi Hutchinson may instead propose raising the funds by levying an annual licensing fee against the clubs.

This update comes from Micheal Ocello, president of the VCG Holdings company that owns several Metro East strip clubs (including Roxy's, PT's and Penthouse).

Ocello met with Senator Hutchinson on Thursday. He declines to tell Daily RFT how much the licensing fee might be. An aide to the legislator also declined to float a dollar amount, explaining that the negotiations have just begun.

Ocello has been leading the charge in Illinois against the bill, which he feels is well-intentioned but misguided. Now that the senator and Lt. Governor Sheila Simon have released fact sheets arguing that strip clubs correlate with sex crimes, Ocello has produced his own fact sheets arguing that no such definitive empirical evidence exists.

Both sides cite a study done by the University of Texas at Austin. (Down in that state, a very similar law recently survived a First Amendment challenge, but the adult industry continues to fight it on other grounds).

We've already blogged about how the senator and lieutenant governor point to the study's finding that strip clubs correlate with sex crimes. However, Ocello points to a different and seemingly contradictory finding in the study:
There is a lack of consensus about whether sexually oriented businesses harm or benefit communities and those who work in the industry. While positive and negative secondary effect have been documented, it is also clear that many studies lack methodological rigor, and without empirical evidence, authoritative conclusions are easy to draw.
Below is the info packet Ocello brought with him to the March 6 hearing before the Public Health Committee in the Illinois Senate:

Ocello Info Packet

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