Massachusetts to Allow Gambling-and Tax It

November 16, 2011

On Tuesday, the Massachusetts House and Senate overwhelmingly agreed to license up to three casinos and one slot parlor to open in the state. The legislation, which passed by a margin of 118-33 in the Massachusetts House and 23-14 in the Senate, details that bids for casino licenses will start at $85 million and bids for the slots parlor license will start at $25 million. Many casino companies already plan to push for licenses.

The slot parlor will have to make a minimum capital investment of $125 million and is subject to a daily tax of 40 percent on gross gaming revenue. They are also subject to a daily "assessment" of 9 percent of gross gaming revenue; that money is earmarked "to support the thoroughbred and standardbred horse-racing industries."

There is also a $600 annual license fee for each approved slot machine. According to TaxAnalysts (subscription required), "Overall revenue from the casino and slot parlor taxes and licensing fees would generally go to the state and its cities and towns to help with education, healthcare, transportation, and other costs."

Of course, as we have long argued (in the Supreme Court, no less), if the money from "fees" goes to blanket programs like those above, then the levy is not a correctly called a "fee", it is a "tax."

Read the bill here.

For more on gambling and lotteries, click here.

For more on Massachusetts, click here.

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