Minnesota Charitable Games Charitable to State Coffers, Not Actual Nonprofits

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March 10, 2020
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Minnesota Charitable Games Charitable to State Coffers, Not Actual Nonprofits

Minnesota charitable games are used by roughly 1,200 nonprofits across the Gopher State as a way to grow revenue for the missions of their respective organizations.

But the latest fiscal report on the legalized gambling sector shows that state tax coffers are getting rich, while the actual groups themselves are barely pulling in more money than they deliver to St. Paul.

The Irving Community Club supports youth programs, but their website makes no secret about how they raise money. A Minnesota charitable games bill seeks to help lessen the organization’s tax burden.

The Star Tribune, the largest circulated newspaper in Minnesota, published a story this week showing that nonprofits paid $60.6 million in state taxes last year, while spending $62 million on their charitable work. And while overall the nonprofits engaged in charitable games still came out on top, that wasn’t the case for some groups.

For example, the Irving Community Association was on the hook for $733,000 in state taxes i n2016. But the 501(c)(3) group that supports youth organizations around the Duluth area spent just $306,000 on actual mission programs.

Tax rates vary depending on an organization’s total gambling revenue and which games they offer. Groups pay between 8.5 and 36 percent of their gross receipts on games like pull-tabs and electronic bingo to the state.

Some observers blame the nonprofits for having too much overhead, while others say taxing a charity as much as 36 percent is downright shameful.

Making US Bank

Most nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations are exempt from paying taxes. The exception is that charities must share their gambling revenues with the state.

The tax structure was last modified in 2012 when lawmakers decided to earmark Minnesota charitable games revenue to help build the $1.1 billion US Bank Stadium. The 66,600-seat NFL football venue is the home of the Minnesota Vikings.

Gaming revenue was targeted in the stadium bill that was eventually passed.

The charitable gambling law was expanded to authorize new types of electronic gambling including bingo and pull-tabs. A new tax was also levied on all tip-boards, which are basically self-contained raffle games that are also known as punchboards.

The first $37 million in gaming taxes collected each year goes to the general fund, which helps cover the state’s nearly $350 million pledge to the stadium financing.

A group of lawmakers in the Minnesota House have introduced legislation that would lessen a charity’s gaming tax burden. Revenues that are directly used for nonprofit work would become duty-free, but gambling money that supports operational expenses would remain taxed.

Cuomo Gets Charitable

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) has now been in office for six years, and during his tenure gambling has expanded greatly in the Empire State. The lottery has grown, daily fantasy sports are legal, land-based casinos are enlarging, and the state is considering online casinos.

That’s all hurt charitable gaming in New York. Last fall, Cuomo vetoed legislation approved by the state legislature that would have allowed nonprofits to sell raffle tickets online.

However, Cuomo is now apparently ready to throw a bone to philanthropic organizations.

In the governor’s latest budget, he calls for the legislature to amend charitable gaming laws to allow groups to offer bigger prize payouts. The statute also would ease restrictions on how charities can advertise their gambling, permit alcohol to be among the prizes up for grabs, and authorize raffles and games of chance tickets to be sold via credit and debit cards.

Pennsylvania Casinos Could Receive Substantial Tax Credits for Local Host Share Payments

Pennsylvania casinos are required to pay $10 million annually to their host communities, or two percent of their yearly gross gaming revenue generated from slots, according to a recent report in The Morning Call, a news site that covers the Lehigh Valley region.

State Senator Pat Browne is ready to stare down the local gambling share problem through a tax credit package that would benefit Pennsylvania casinos that are struggling. (Image: Sarah Cassi/Lehigh Valley Live)

No casino in the Keystone State https://myfreepokies.com/pokies/ has ever collected $500 million in a single year from slots, meaning all pay the same $10 million. Since revenue differs from one casino to the next, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled last fall that the local share assessment was unconstitutional and in violation of the uniformity clause since casinos write varying checks to make up the obligation.

The high court stayed their decision for four months in September, and then pushed back their ruling’s effective date another 120 days after the General Assembly failed to find a solution. The Supreme Court recognized that many local counties rely heavily on the casino tax payments to fund their county governments. The new deadline is May 26.

One such lawmaker working on the case is State Sen. Pat Browne (R-Lehigh), whose Allentown district neighbors Sands Bethlehem, the biggest casino earner in Pennsylvania. The Republican has proposed providing certain tax credits to casinos in exchange for them continuing to pay the $10 million host fee.

‘They still have to pay the $10 million, but a tax credit has the potential to offset that payment,’ Browne told The Morning Call.

Paying It Forward

Browne’s proposition is one way to make sure counties like Lehigh continue to reap the benefits of hosting a casino. Half of Pennsylvania’s 12 casinos are in suburban areas, with the other six either in the Philadelphia or Pittsburgh metropolises.

Though he hasn’t formally introduced his proposition, Browne believes giving tax credits to casinos in exchange for their continued $10 million would satisfy the gaming companies, local governments, and the state. The tax credits would only be provided for casinos that are struggling, though Browne hasn’t expanded on what that might constitute.

‘We’re not talking about giving tax credits to highly lucrative operations,’ Browne explained. ‘We’re talking about the prospect of casinos not being able to survive.’

Another Day, Another Proposed Remedy

Various ideas have been suggested regarding the local share tax since the state’s Supreme Court ruling.

One idea was to simply reword the gaming statute first passed in 2006 to remove the two percent slot stipulation. But lawmakers took a different approach in trying to overhaul gambling in Pennsylvania through a massive omnibus bill.

House Bill 392, authored by Rep. George Dunbar (R-Westmoreland), is legislation with bipartisan support that seeks to legalize online daily fantasy sports and internet gambling, as well as expand gambling to include slots inside airport terminals.

The local share fee is also addressed in the bill. Instead of paying two percent of gross slot revenue, or $10 million, whichever is greater, casinos would pay 20 percent of the $50 million licensing fee they each paid upfront when they were first approved. For those not mathematically inclined, that comes out to the same $10 million.

However, since the local share amendment is tied up in a massive gambling bill, Browne wants to present other standalone statutes to make sure local towns keep getting funded.

BetOnline Live Dealer Seen False Dealing as Rumors Surface About AbsolutePoker

Online sports book and casino BetOnline.com has been severely embarrassed this week by a video uploaded to YouTube on Saturday that shows one of its live blackjack dealers apparently cheating.

This is the moment a BetOnline.com dealer is seen to ‘second deal’ a player at the site’s live dealer casino tables, causing the player to lose the hand. The US-facing unregulated site has yet to offer an explanation. (YouTube.com)

The dealer clearly uses a sleight-of-hand cheating technique, as old as card games themselves, known as the second shuffle, in which the dealer deals the card second from the top, while appearing to deal the top card.

Whether, in this case, this was by design or an accident… well, you decide, but it certainly leaves BetOnline, a US facing unlicensed online gambling site with some awkward questions to answer.

At the time of writing, however, the site is declining to answer any questions, and, because it is not licensed in the US, it doesn’t have to.

The video was uploaded by a professional blackjack player Michael Morgenstern, an American, who says he reached out to the site’s customer support but to no avail.

And, yes, he lost the hand.

Rise of the Online Live Dealer

Live-dealer games have been around for a while in the online casino space but have enjoyed a real surge in popularity over the last year or two, thanks to an enhancement of the gaming experience enabled by improvements in browser technology and internet streaming speeds.

Ironically, part of the popularity of live dealer has been driven by a love of the personal touch and a inherent distrust of the random number generator, which some people erroneously believe to be loaded.

That an online casino would attempt to deceive its players by using crooked live dealers, when damning footage can be so easily recorded and posted on social media, would seem to be a suicidal business practice, especially when you consider that the house always wins anyway.

Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands Prepared to Spend $10 Billion in Japan, Asian Market Seen as Potential Cash Cow

Sheldon Adelson and his Las Vegas Sands (LVS) casino empire says they’re ready to invest up to $10 billion on building a resort in Japan, should the country legalize the market.

Billionaire Sheldon Adelson might call Vegas home, but Japan has his utmost attention. (Image: Bill Clark/Getty Images)

LVS is known for its famed Venetian and Palazzo properties on the Las Vegas Strip, but the company is much more heavily invested in China through Macau. The $2.7 billion Parisian opened last fall, marking Adelson’s fourth casino resort in the special administrative region.

The billionaire, worth an estimated $30 billion, was one of President Donald Trump’s largest campaign contributors, and is also invested in Singapore with the Marina Bay Sands. With construction costs on that property reaching $8 billion, it’s being touted as the world’s most expensive standalone casino property. But Adelson says should the Japanese gaming market open up, he might top that massive figure.

Talking this week in Tokyo about his company’s bid to enter Japan, Adelson said, ‘It would be at least what we paid in Singapore. But it could be as much as $10 billion.’

Japan’s steps to legalize commercial gambling come as a result of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Liberal Democratic Party’s goal of increasing tourism. In 2014, the PM opined that casino resorts are the best way ‘to attract people from around the world.’

Tipping His Hand

In mid-December, the Japanese government passed the Integrated Resorts Promotion bill, a piece of legislation that essentially paved the way to end the prohibition on commercial full-fledged gambling. With over 127 million people and one of the strongest economies on the planet, US-based gambling powers, as well as other global gaming operators, quickly expressed their intentions to move in once a legislative green light is issued.

Wynn Resorts, MGM Resorts, the Hard Rock, and Golden Nugget brands, as well as Australia’s Crown Resorts, and Malaysia’s Genting Group have all publicly expressed interest.

The problem is that Japan is expected to only approve two casino resort licenses when the country’s parliament comes to terms on the promotion bill’s regulatory framework. And that will leave the majority of interested parties on the sidelines.

‘It’s the ultimate of business opportunities,’ Adelson explained. ‘Singapore was a warm-up to this.’

Adelson’s comments might improve his pitch to Japan’s casino approval committee, as it shows the billionaire’s financial willingness to invest heavily in the country.

Eager Investment, Massive Potential

Japan is seen as the holy grail of gambling for good reason. Though there are varying economic forecasts on the potential market, CLSA, a brokerage and investment firm that focuses on Asian markets, said recently that just two integrated resorts could produce as much as $10 billion in annual revenue.

Other analysts believe $10 billion is on the conservative end. Union Gaming, an investment bank focused on global gaming that has offices in Hong Kong and Macau, feels $40 billion could flow through Japanese casinos each year.

Over the next 12 months, Japan’s government will come to terms on how the projected casinos will be taxed, and those regulations will certainly impact the market’s overall attractiveness. Should things progress in a timely manner, analysts believe the first multibillion-dollar casino resort could open by 2024.

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