Friday November 15 ,2013 : U.S. FEDERAL TAX STRUCTURE PROPOSED FOR ONLINE GAMBLING
A familiar name and a well-known legislative proposal.
Remember Rep. Jim McDermott and his Internet Gambling Regulation and Tax Enforcement Act several years ago designed to complement one of Rep. Barney Frank's many attempts to achieve federal legalization of online gambling?
Frank has retired, but McDermott is still in Congress slugging away with an updated and renamed bill – Internet Gambling Regulation and Tax Enforcement Act 2013 – which is now being proposed as a companion measure to that of Rep. Peter King and his attempt earlier this year to launch a federal legalization bill.
The online gambling action group Safe and Secure Internet Gambling Initiative broke news of the new McDermott initiative Friday, applauding the politician and describing his proposals as "…a sensible approach to collect much-needed new revenue for federal and state budgets."
“With the pending Internet gambling bills, Congress can put in place broad consumer protections and capture significant new government revenues without having to raise taxes,” said Michael Waxman, spokesperson for the Safe and Secure Internet Gambling Initiative.
“It’s shocking that Congress has decided to leave in place hypocritical laws that allow some forms of online gambling activity, such as betting on horse racing, but prohibits others, like poker and bingo. You’d be hard pressed to find another industry pleading for a chance to offer online the same activities permissible offline, and be taxed fairly to do so.”
Waxman, who has studied the new bill, says that it creates a 12 percent deposit tax paid by licensed operators, not players. The federal government would collect 4 percent of the tax, while qualified states and tribes that participate in the federal regime would receive 8 percent.
The online gambling tax payable to states and tribes is dependent upon the location of the customer in the respective qualified state or tribal area at the time the customer makes a deposit. This is consistent with the point of consumption tax methodology being implemented in the UK.
Rather than using the complicated Gross Gaming Revenues (GGR) methodology as a basis for tax calculations in a multi-jurisdiction environment, a deposit tax is optimal for the Internet gambling market, says Waxman.
A deposit tax is paid up-front, creates transparency and readily supports revenue calculation and distribution across multiple jurisdictions based on a place of consumption methodology.
The expansion of Internet gambling is projected by 2020 to generate upwards of $9.3 billion in revenue, the same amount of revenue as generated by Las Vegas and Atlantic City markets combined today, according to Morgan Stanley.
Waxman points out that since the Department of Justice’s opinion in late 2011 that Internet gambling activity is not prohibited under federal law unless it involves sports, three states have moved to offer intrastate Internet gambling with other states eager to follow suit.
"Already there is discussion of interstate compacts which would effectively mirror a fragmented federal regime, if ever agreement could be reached on the finer detail, but with duplicate costs in participating states. To date each state has approved varying offerings, suitability criteria, consumer protections and tax structures. The federal regime proposed by Rep. King would offer a uniform regulatory framework to control the activity and protect consumers. While Rep. McDermott’s bill would offer a uniform, effective tax regime," says Waxman.