Shortly after Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) introduced comprehensive internet gambling legislation on Wednesday, Congressman Jim McDermott (D-WA) introduced the Internet Gambling Regulation and Tax Enforcement Act, HR 2268.
The companion legislation to Frank’s bill will allow the United States Government to extract tax revenue from the internet gambling industry. The bill’s text notes, “Each licensee… shall be required to pay an internet gambling license fee by the end of each calendar month in an amount equal to two percent of all funds deposited by customers during the preceding month.” In terms of how the costs can be passed onto the end consumer, HR 2268 states that the 2% fee “may not be deducted from the amounts available as deposits by the person placing a bet.” Individuals are expected to pay income tax on any internet gambling winnings.
Unauthorized bets or wagers are taxed at a hefty 50% and all money is sent to the United States Treasury. Full disclosure of the names and addresses of licensees, the gross wins and losses by each person wagering, the total of “net internet gambling winnings,” the amount of tax paid, and account balances are required once per year. In terms of bookkeeping under McDermott’s proposed bill, “Each person liable for fees… shall keep a daily record showing deposits… in addition to all other records required.”
In a press statement released on Wednesday, McDermott explained his rationale for once again championing internet gambling tax legislation: “We are losing billions of dollars in federal and state taxes every year because a prior Administration and its supporters drove legitimate U.S. online gambling off-shore by passing an ill-conceived late-night amendment in Congress that has done nothing except make Americans more vulnerable to scams when they wager online and cost us billions in lost revenue.” During the last Congress, McDermott’s legislation came in the form of HR 2607, which also prescribed that 2% of deposits would be taxed.
McDermott added, “These are merely the rightful collection of taxes where applicable. The billions of revenue that will be collected by the U.S. Treasury under my bill can be dedicated to pay for critically un-funded social safety net programs in America that could improve the lives of vulnerable children and others who deserve our help.” Also introduced during the last Congressional session by McDermott was HR 6501, which would have used revenue derived from internet gambling to fund programs for those currently or formerly in foster care as well as workers in declining industries. Although controversial in nature, HR 6501 was one of the first attempts to demonstrate what internet gambling tax revenue could potentially be used for.
HR 6501 was introduced last July and dubbed the Investing in our Human Resources Act. Congresswoman Shelley Berkley (D-NV) spoke out sharply against the bill. The author of the Internet Gambling Study Act called it “a classic case of putting the cart before the horse.” Fellow Nevada Congressman Jon Porter, who was not re-elected in 2008, called HR 6501 “a frivolous attack on the gaming community to pay for services that local governments, states, and the federal government should already be providing.” In the end, neither HR 2607 nor HR 6501 was acted upon during the 110th Congress.
A study by U.S.-based PricewaterhouseCoopers released this year revealed that up to $52 billion could be derived from internet gambling over a 10 year period. The report used a bill similar to McDermott’s HR 2268 as well as Barney Frank’s Internet Gambling Regulation and Enforcement Act. However, the potential revenue was largely based on professional sports leagues allowing online wagering on their games. At the time of writing, the number of co-sponsors for HR 2266, HR 2267, and HR 2268 were not available on the Library of Congress website.