At least two of the companies hoping to open one of the Bay State’s first commercial casinos say Massachusetts law needs revision if it is to avoid turning off gamblers and cutting into the state’s take from casino and slot-parlor profits (Mohegan Sun is willing to go with whatever is decided, even if the current tax law is not revised.). Las Vegas-based MGM and Wynn are calling for repeal of a provision requiring casinos to withhold 5 percent state income tax on certain gambling winnings over $600. They say neighboring states all use lower, federal thresholds, and that makes them more appealing to a wide range of gamblers.
In my post “Taxachusetts” Could See Players Stay Away Because of Antiquated Laws,” I refer to how Wynn suggested that the provision will severely cut into who comes to play. Some Massachusetts gamblers — particularly horse and dog racing betters that have had their winnings subject to the state’s withholding provisions for about a year already —agree it should be addressed. MGM and Wynn say the provision is ‘‘wholly impractical’’ and a ‘‘massive administrative burden.’’ Wynn suggests the requirement could severely hinder game play, forcing a stoppage anytime a person won more than $600 on a hand so that they could complete a tax form. It’s true. All hand-paid jackpots of $600 or more, which happen substantially more than the norm in the industry of $1200 ( which is why a quarter video poker machine pays 4000 credits for a royal flush), will take more slot attendants, more paper work and federal red-tape, most importantly, will hold up every gambler every time it happens. Just think what’s going to be needed to keep up in the High Limit areas.
According to boston.com Mohegan Sun, the tribe-owned casino operator that’s competing with Wynn to open a casino in the Boston area, has said it intends to comply with the law. ‘‘The rules were established long before any operator submitted license applications,’’ Mitchell Etess, CEO of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, said in a statement. ‘‘Steve Wynn apparently wants his own set of rules.’’ Ouch!
But, although I am not a fan of Mr. Wynn, I think he is correct is his insistence to change the law. Even Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby said, ‘‘It seems pretty clear that the best practice would be to adopt the federal standard.’’
That’s all for now.