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Oregon Lawmakers Propose Bill Affecting Gambling Tax Breaks

In many states across the US where casino gambling is legalized, players have the opportunity to write off certain gambling losses at tax time. In Oregon, this option could soon change if Senate Bill 212 is passed into law. The proposal would take away the deductions. Casinos in the state are fighting the bill, trying to prevent the legislation from coming to pass.

Fight the Change

The Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community are leading the fight against the bill. The casinos argue that the losses would be a burden to their gaming operations. Senate Bill 212 was introduced by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Senator Mark Hass. The measure was already approved by the Senate with a vote back in March. The bill is now moving through the House, but that is taking some time, being currently stuck in the House Revenue Committee.

Because there is now time, the tribe can gain support in their efforts to stop the legislation from moving forward. Also in opposition of the measure is the Oregon Tribal Gaming Alliance. Both are hoping to stop the bill before it gains any more support. The tribe has stated that the measure would cause large reductions in revenue for their casino.

If the bill is approved, gamblers are more likely to lower the amount they are willing to wager. The ability to write off losses left players more free feeling to spend their money. Without the write off, players will be stricter with their funds.

According to the opposition, the money that customers do not spend would create a shortage when it comes to payments made towards government services. Money from gambling in Oregon goes to several areas of service including education, public safety, health care and more. Since 2015, close to $151 million has went to the tribal government service and just over $98 million to community services in the tribe.

Current Law

Under the law as it stands now, gamblers of Oregon can deduct gambling losses when figuring taxable income, up to the amount won. The federal government has similar regulations in place for taxes as well.

According to the bill sponsor Hass, the deduction costs the state around $6 million in revenues annually. The state is considering legalizing sports betting and the industry could launch this year. If it does, it would create substantial revenues and help get closer to a huge budget deficit needed to pay a pension plan that remains unfunded.

The state has potential to bring in even more gaming via the Coquille tribe. The Oregon based tribe has been looking to expand their gaming operations in the state. However, they may not be as willing if the tax bill is approved.

It will be interesting to see if this bill is able to move forward in the state. If so, lawmaker may find that players are less inclined to spend their money and the state experiences more losses than expected savings.