“Taxachusetts” Could See Players Stay Away Because of Antiquated Laws

The expansion of casino gambling has had its ups  and downs, but mostly it’s frustrations.  But there is one frustration that could prevent CT, RI, & ME players – especially high rollers – from visiting Massachusetts casinos. It’s called taxes.

I was listening to one of my many podcasts I listen to driving to work, Bob Dancer’s “Gambling With an Edge” featuring Video poker expert Bob Dancer and blackjack guru Richard Munchkin.  I have referred to it before so one of the best resources for gamblers to be a better, more knowledgeable gambler tomorrow than today.  But back to Massachusetts….

Bob Dancer’s guest was American Gambling Association’s president Geoff Freeman.  Now, when a player hits a jackpot of $1200 or more, casinos present you with a W2G tax form to claim taxes on your win as proof to the government.  When asked if most states might raise the jackpot limit higher than the present $1200, Geoff ‘s response was that in the Bay State, the taxable income to receive a W2G is, and will by for proposed casinos, $600! The Boston Herald reported that winning players may have to stop playing often, waiting for those tax forms to be delivered as the machine locks up. This is a huge threat and seen as an extremely unfriendly environment to play in.  All surrounding states have the higher $1200 threshold that most destinations have, such as Las Vegas and Atlantic City.  The hassle  of the lower threshold might just keep gamblers going to Connecticut, Rhode Island and Maine.

For example, you travel to MGM in Springfield and you are playing your favorite penny version of “Cashman.”  You hit a single payout of $601!   Yeah!

But wait, first your machine is now locked up, stopping your play.  Depending how busy the casino is, you wait for casino personnel to come notice.  Now they report you whopping $601 Jackpot, and now you wait for someone else to come and pay you.  However, give you an option – pay the feds their taxes now, or pay it late. (Because they will be filing all of  this paper work with the IRS, you will have to pay it, now or later.)  Even at the approximate taxation of 15%, (and maybe more from state taxes that I’m not aware) you jackpot is already down to $510.  And, anytime this happens, the whole scenario starts all over again.  And if everybody in the casino is playing this game with slot attendants, you could wait a while!

Why would you put yourself through that?  Just think video poker players – hit aces with a kicker on a DDB single line game and you have to stop to take part in the W2G Attendant Dance.   To me, time is to valuable.  It does slow your play down, but your not adding any rewards or tier points in the process.  I’d stay put in my own state instead of driving to Massachusetts – too much of a hassle.

All those Casino Gaming Companies who were involved (Caesars, Penn, Foxwoods) or are still involved (MGM, Wynn, Mohegan Sun) complained, asking for legislative amendments.  You can imagine how Steve Wynn felt about it – and I don’t blame him.

That’s all for now.  Wake up, Massachusetts – do you really want the revenue from casino gambling or not?