Dina Titus and Guy Reschenthaler, Co-Chairs of the Congressional Gaming Caucus

US: bipartisan bill introduced to end federal sports betting excise tax

Nevada sports book operators pay 0.0025 percent in a federal handle tax on every sports wager placed in the Silver State.
2021-04-05
Reading time 1:52 min
On Thursday, Representatives Dina Titus (NV-1) and Guy Reschenthaler (PA-14), Co-Chairs of the Congressional Gaming Caucus, introduced bipartisan legislation to repeal the 0.25% excise tax placed on all legal sports bets, known as the “handle tax.” AGA CEO Bill Miller applauds legislation to eliminate antiquated taxes on legal sportsbooks.

In 2019, gaming establishments in Nevada paid about $13.3 million in handle taxes – the most of any state. When Congresswoman Titus once sought to find out how the federal government allocated the money it received in from this tax, “The IRS couldn’t answer how the money was being used,” she said.

Certain types of sports betting, including betting on horse racing and sports betting operated by state lotteries, are already exempt from the handle tax. Businesses that pay the excise tax must also pay an annual $50 per-employee tax on those who work in sportsbooks.

“The handle tax punishes legal gaming operators and encourages consumers to place bets illegally,” said Congresswoman Titus (NV-1). “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.”

“Gaming has a $6.34 billion economic impact in Pennsylvania and supports over 33,000 jobs,” said Congressman Reschenthaler (PA-14). “Unfortunately, the industry is hindered by an outdated tax code and burdensome regulations that penalize legal, regulated operators while providing illegal operations with an unfair advantage.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.”

AGA President Bill Miller's statement supporting the bill

American Gaming Association (AGA) President and CEO Bill Miller released the following statement on bipartisan legislation introduced Thursday.

“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,” stated the CEO.

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