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US – Congressional Gaming Caucus presents bid to axe handle tax

By - 6 April 2021

Chairs of the bipartisan Congressional Gaming Caucus have filed a bill aiming to abolish the 0.25 per cent handle tax on sports betting, claiming it is no longer needed, and that with illegal bookies and offshore sportsbooks not paying, it is actually counterproductive.

Representatives Dina Titus (NV-1) and Guy Reschenthaler (PA-14), Co-Chairs of the Congressional Gaming Caucus, have introduced bipartisan legislation to repeal the 0.25 per cent excise tax placed on all legal sports bets.

In Nevada in 2019, sports books paid $13.3m in handle taxes although Congresswoman Titus said then when asked where the allocated tax was spent, ‘the IRS couldn’t answer how the money was being used.’

Congresswoman Titus said: “The handle tax punishes legal gaming operators and encourages consumers to place bets illegally. As more states recognize the benefits of legalizing and regulating sports betting, repealing the handle tax will create jobs in Southern Nevada and across the country. At a time when Las Vegas is experiencing the second highest unemployment rate of any large metro area in the country, forcing sportsbooks to pay an additional tax on each employee makes it harder to bring about economic recovery. I have proposed this legislation for years and I finally feel like the momentum is on our side. I look forward to continuing to work with Congressman Reschenthaler to make this bill become law.”

Congressman Reschenthaler added: “Gaming has a $6.34bn economic impact in Pennsylvania and supports over 33,000 jobs. Unfortunately, the industry is hindered by an outdated tax code and burdensome regulations that penalize legal, regulated operators while providing illegal operations with an unfair advantage. The bill will ensure the gaming industry, hit hard by COVID-19 mandated closures and the cancellation of sporting events, is able to support good-paying jobs and economic growth in southwestern Pennsylvania and across the country. I’m grateful to my Gaming Caucus Co-Chair, Rep. Dina Titus, for joining me once again on this important effort.”

Supporting the bill, AGA President Bill Miller added: “While the federal excise tax’s original purpose was to punish illegal operators, this antiquated tax now aids the offshore, illegal market and disadvantages safe, legal and regulated sportsbooks nationwide. If Congress wants to position the legal sports betting market for success, it needs to eradicate this unnecessarily burdensome tax to level the playing field for legal sportsbooks. I’m grateful to Congressional Gaming Caucus Co-Chairs Reps. Titus and Reschenthaler for introducing this much-needed legislation that will continue fostering growth for the legal market and better protect customers.”

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