New Legislation Aims To End Excise Tax On Sports Betting

New Legislation Aims To End Excise Tax On Sports Betting
© PA

Two members of Congress on Friday introduced a bipartisan bill to repeal the federal excise tax on legal sports bets.

Reps. Dina Titus (D-Nevada) and Guy Reschenthaler (R-Pennsylvania) — co-chairs of the Congressional Gaming Caucus that was relaunched earlier this year — co-sponsored the bill that would end a 0.25% tax on the handle for legal bets, according to a news release. Businesses that pay the excise tax must also pay an annual $50 per-employee tax on those working in sportsbooks.

The bipartisan caucus has more than 30 Congressional members and raises issues concerning the gaming industry.

“Sports are back,” Titus said in the news release. “Unfortunately, the penalty on making legal sports bets never left. The handle tax makes it more difficult for legal gaming establishments to compete with illegal operators.

“Repealing it will push more consumers out of the black market and into a well-regulated market. Forcing sportsbooks to pay a per-employee tax is the last thing we need when gaming establishments are still making announcements about new rounds of layoffs and furloughs.”

Titus noted that In 2019 gaming establishments in Nevada paid about $13.3 million in handle taxes — most of any state with legal sports betting.

The American Gaming Association lauded the new legislation.

“Eliminating these taxes is a long overdue step to enable a legal, regulated environment for sports betting that will better protect customers and generate much-needed revenue for state and local economies,” AGA President and CEO Bill Miller said in a statement. “The federal excise and head taxes levied on legal U.S. sportsbooks generate little meaningful revenue for the government. Instead, they place legitimate businesses at a significant competitive disadvantage against illicit gambling operations which skirt taxes and licensing fees.”

Effort To Repeal 'Outdated' Tax

The taxes have been in place since the early 1950s to discourage illegal gambling, the AGA said, but they "now give illegal operators a leg up.”

Reschenthaler said the legislation will eliminate “an outdated tax and burdensome requirements on the gaming industry.”

“Gaming is a vital economic driver in Pennsylvania, supporting over 33,000 jobs,” Reschenthaler said. “This bill will help pave the way for economic growth and job creation in my district and throughout the nation.”

Miller appeared before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on college sports betting this week and called for the repeal of the excise tax.

“Repealing the federal excise and head taxes levied on legal sports wagering operations is one important step Congress can take to help level the playing field and allow legal, regulated sportsbooks to more effectively compete,” Miller testified on Wednesday.

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