Neal introduces gaming tax package |

Neal introduces gaming tax package

Geoff Dornan

Two proposals that would tax the largest casinos in the state were introduced Monday by Sen. Joe Neal, D-North Las Vegas.

He said his first option, Senate Bill 105, would increase the gross revenue tax on the state’s largest category of casinos from 6 1/4 percent to 10 1/4 percent. That is slightly less than the 11 1/4 percent he sought in his unsuccessful initiative petition this past year but he said it would generate more than $300 million a year for the state treasury.

His second bill calls for an advisory question on the next general election ballot asking voters whether they want to increase gaming taxes and, if so, by 2 percent, 4 or 6 percent. The advisory question would be non-binding but designed to give weight to Neal’s claim that the majority of Nevadans don’t think the gaming industry pays its fair share of state taxes.

Both proposals would affect only those casinos now paying 6 1/4 percent on their gross revenues – the largest casinos which now earn more than $134,000 a month.

But he said after introducing the measures that he still has a third option – another petition drive.

“If they don’t do anything, we’re going to go out and raise money like hell to do another petition,” he said.

Neal said the petition last year raised more than 20,000 signatures using volunteers. “If we hire professionals, we could get it done in four months,” he said.

The proposed percentage increase and the proposed ballot question were both referred to the Senate Taxation Committee for study.

At the same time, Neal introduced a third measure involving gaming which he described as a matter of fairness.

Senate Bill 100 would require casinos and slot operators to pay off even when the machine malfunctions unless the player deliberately caused the device to malfunction.

That issue was raised in several recent cases where a player lined up winning symbols on a major jackpot only to be told there would be no payoff because the machine was malfunctioning.

One of those cases went all the way to the Nevada Supreme Court, which ruled earlier this year in favor of the casino.

He said if there is malfunction in a machine, it’s not the player’s fault and that the player shouldn’t be penalized because he or she has no control over the machine’s maintenance and repairs.

“If all the reels line up, they should have to pay,” said Neal. “The player’s not responsible for maintaining the machines.”

Senate Bill 100 was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee for study.

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