At present, state casinos pay a 67% tax on slot machines revenue and a 20% one on gaming tables revenue. If Sen. Conway’s bill gets the necessary approval, venues will be imposed a 30% tax on revenue from gaming tables.
Recently, three state casinos – Maryland Live!, Hollywood Casino Perryville, and Horseshoe Baltimore, were allowed to dispose of their slot machines and to replace them with gaming tables. Owners of the aforementioned gambling venues explained this move as a necessary one, as customers now prefer to play table games rather than gambling at slot machines.
Last year, tax revenue from slot machines totaled $578 million, compared to $255 million generated out of gaming tables.
Sen. Conway explained that she had decided to propose the bill, as the decrease in the number of slot machines on the territory of the state will certainly lead to a drop in tax revenue from those. She pointed out that most of the money goes to the Maryland Education Trust Fund.
Her proposal, however, met strong opposition from casino owners and lobbyists.
Sara Rayme, a spokesperson for a lobbying group called the American Gaming Association, commented that gambling operators fear that the bill would make Maryland and the venues on its territory less attractive to investors and therefore, less competitive. She also pointed to the fact that the bill will most definitely have a negative impact on revenues.
Casinos in Maryland were legalized in 2010. Since then, they have generated approximately $2.4 billion in revenue from gambling activities. Of those, $1 billion have been contributed to the Education Trust Fund.
Sen. Conway’s proposal needs to be voted by the state’s Senate Budget and Taxation Committee. However, Sen. Edward J. Kasemeyer, head of the committee, emphasized that legislators need to thoroughly review the proposal and the effect it will have upon the state and its gambling industry, before a decision is made.
Del. Eric G. Luedtke (D-Montgomery County) commented that it might be a good idea for the committee to vote the bill only after the so-called MGM National Harbor casino opens doors in 2016.
He said that it will be easier for committee members to determine the most appropriate tax rates when all the casinos are launched. He also pointed out that owners of gambling venues will certainly try to reach an agreement that will be most beneficial to them, but it is legislators’ responsibility to advocate the interests of Maryland and its residents.