Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sunday Globe Special: State Getting Cut of Your Casino Pot

They didn't legalize casinos for you and jobs, citizens of Massachusetts! 

It was "intended to ensure tax payments on gambling income."


They want their CUT before you even leave the table!!

"Mass. gambling law quirk may repel high rollers; Low threshold for tax filing vexes casino firms, players" by Mark Arsenault |  Globe Staff, January 19, 2014

Blackjack players normally cheer when the dealer busts, but they could be griping in Massachusetts casinos if the high roller at a table wins a big hand and the game screeches to a stop for a 10-minute paperwork break.

Let's look at the replay!

Under one interpretation of the state casino law, table games could be covered by the state tax reporting and withholding requirements that have bedeviled the local racing and simulcast industries for a year, potentially causing delays every time a player collects a payout of $600 or greater — which is practically every hand in a casino’s high-stakes gambling room.

I think I will skip the card game!

Slot machines would almost certainly be affected by the law, which requires tax filings and a 5 percent withholding for each jackpot above that amount, a low threshold compared with other states and federal reporting requirements.

Talk about your ONE-ARMED BANDITS!

With the state’s first casino licenses due to be awarded in the next few months, some of the biggest names in the industry are raising concerns that the stringent reporting requirements will annoy slot players, destroy high-end play by “whales” who make large individual wagers, and drive potential customers out of state where requirements are less cumbersome.

Ya think?

“The machine will literally lock up and the customer will have to fill out paperwork,” said Eric Schippers, a senior vice president at Penn National Gaming, one of three companies competing for Massachusetts’ sole slot parlor license. 

I won, I won, I…. aaaah, f***!!

The Massachusetts rules differ from federal requirements, which call for tax reporting paperwork to be filled out on slot payouts of $1,200 or more, and for some other forms of gambling when the payout is both $600 or more and the winnings are at least 300 times the original wager — long-shot bets with at least 300-to-1 odds, according to the IRS. Such long-shot bets could include, for instance, a racing trifecta, when a gambler tries to pick the order of the first three finishers of a horse race.

Table games are generally not affected by the federal reporting rules because most do not involve wagers with at least 300-to-1 odds, according to state officials.

It is an open question whether the Massachusetts rules, which do not include the 300-to-1 requirement, would apply to table games such as blackjack, said gambling commission member Enrique Zuniga, who has studied the issue.

“There is a possibility, an interpretation, that any payment of $600 or more could trigger a taxable event in Massachusetts,” Zuniga said.

Joe Weinberg, a managing partner at Cordish Cos., also a Massachusetts slot parlor applicant, said that the state reporting requirements would result in “ten times” as much paperwork for slot players than under federal rules….

I'll decline the invitation then.

Filling out the tax forms takes about 10 minutes in each instance, he said. During that time, the machine makes no revenue for the operator and generates no taxes for the state. Compounded across hundreds or thousands of slot machines on a casino floor, the administrative requirements could also create a burden for regulators and for operators, he said.

“It’s not in anyone’s interest — the state, the property owner, or the customer — to set the threshold at an artificially low level,” Weinberg said.

Who wrote the bill??!

Two industry giants, Wynn Resorts, which is proposing a casino in Everett, and MGM, planning a gambling resort in downtown Springfield, are among the companies that have raised the issue with Massachusetts officials, according to the state gambling commission….

Translation: the house odds are stacked in favor of fixing the problem and rigging up a new payment system.

State Senator Stanley Rosenberg, an Amherst Democrat and an architect of the 2011 casino law, said through a spokesperson that the Legislature expects the gambling commission to make a recommendation for changing the law, and that lawmakers are looking forward to studying what the panel proposes.

Related: Future is Rosy For Rosenberg 

Maybe not now.

The withholding requirement, intended to ensure tax payments on gambling income, dates back to the passage of the casino law….


At least you can head over to the federal casino on Indian land:

"Federal agency OK’s Mashpee Wampanoag casino compact" by Travis Andersen |  Globe Staff, January 03, 2014

“I’m pleased that the Commonwealth’s compact with the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe has been given final approval under federal law,” Governor Deval Patrick said in a statement Friday. “This is another important step toward growing jobs and opportunity in the southeast region and a good deal for both the Commonwealth and the tribe.”

But Michelle Littlefield, cochairwoman of the anticasino group Preserve Taunton’s Future, said Friday that the tribe’s application is incomplete and that she doubts the casino will win approval any time soon.

“That’s the bottom line: They don’t qualify” to have land taken into trust, Littlefield said. “They know it. We know it, The [Bureau of Indian Affairs] knows it.”

What do you mean it ain't open yet?


For some reason the printed paragraph that told me "whether the department has the authority to take the land into trust is an open question, and federal court decisions that could clarify the issue might be years away" was cut for the web version. 

"Caesars says gaming board chair interfered in screening" by Milton J. Valencia |  Globe Staff, January 03, 2014

Caesars Entertainment, the Las Vegas gambling giant, has lodged new discrimination allegations against the state’s top casino regulator, saying in an amended federal lawsuit that the regulator had personally urged Caesars’ competitor, Steve Wynn, to stay in the contentious application process.

Related: Caesars Sues Crosby

The regulator, Stephen Crosby, chairman of the state gambling commission, has personal ties to the Everett land owner who could see significant financial benefits from the sale of his property to Wynn, if Wynn is successful at winning the sole casino license for Eastern Massachusetts.

See: Crosby's Conflict of Interest 

It's not like he was counting cards or anything.

The amended lawsuit claims that Crosby called Wynn in October, after the casino mogul suggested at a hearing he may not pursue one of three state casino licenses if the board intended to require local casino operators to follow Massachusetts law in other jurisdictions. Wynn and another Massachusetts applicant, MGM, run highly profitable casinos in Macau, China, where gambling regulations are significantly different than in the United States.

Crosby “took it upon himself to place a call to Wynn and to ask Wynn to remain in the Massachusetts license process,” according to the complaint.

Crosby has also voluntarily defended Wynn in news stories related to the ownership of the Everett land, according to the new portions of the lawsuit. Caesars, which filed the original lawsuit in mid-December….

Okay, I fold, I'm out, whatever. 


I'm sure someone in Boston will have something to say about all this:

"New mayor not ceding rights on casino proposals" by Mark Arsenault |  Globe Staff, January 10, 2014

Two casino companies pitching gambling projects on the Boston border have drawn their proposals to avoid touching even a grain of Boston soil, denying the city the leverage to demand a ransom of cash payments and other benefits as a “host community.”

But new Mayor Martin J. Walsh is not ready to concede host city rights for either project. In his first action on the casino issue, Walsh has petitioned the state gambling commission for time to further investigate grounds for greater negotiating rights that could be worth tens of millions of dollars.

The developers, Wynn Resorts and Mohegan Sun, have proposed casinos within a dice throw of the Boston city line, in Everett and in Revere.

By building up to — but not over — the city border, the developers intend to avoid making Boston a host community for their projects. Both companies say they consider Boston a “surrounding community” under the state casino law, a lesser designation that would allow the city to negotiate for compensation but without much leverage to drive a rich deal or the right to hold a public referendum on the project….

Yeah, why would you want to include the people you plan to have play at your casino?


And then he backed down like he has so often already?

Walsh sets outlines for deal on Revere casino 

I thought you guys voted for change.

Boston should have say over casino plans on its borders

Mohegan Sun, labor groups OK hiring pact

So who are you gambling on today?