Get in Line

The states are not the only ones getting a piece of the action.

The federal tax—(.25% of handle) is also “baked into the cake,” says Ruddock.

“As legal sports betting continues to expand in the U.S., it will be interesting to see if the government provides some transparency when it comes to where the federal sports betting tax goes.

Right now, no one knows.” And while a .25% tax rate doesn’t seem like much, it is, because it’s a tax on the handle—the total money bet—rather than gross gaming revenue.

In Nevada, where casinos pay a 6.75% tax rate on GGR, the additional federal handle tax means an effective 12% tax on sports betting GGR, almost doubling the state tax rate.

Sports leagues are also at the feedbag, demanding so-called “integrity fees” as compensation for the legalization of sports betting,

Get in Line which they fought for many years.

The American Gaming Association isn’t buying it, and neither is most of the American public.

According to the AGA, a recent poll found that only 23% of Americans believe the leagues should collect a fee from the amount wagered on sports, while 55% are opposed.

“The results of this research are overwhelmingly clear,” said Sara Slane, the AGA’s senior vice president.

“Consumers want legal sports betting, they believe it should be regulated by state and tribal governments, and they don’t think the leagues should get a cut.” Ruddock agrees.

“Whatever the preferred nomenclature of the day— integrity fees, royalty fees, data fees—league demands for a cut of sports betting money is a demand for something for nothing.

“Sports betting wasn’t created out of whole cloth on May 14, 2018,” he says.

“The insinuation by the leagues that they suddenly have integrity concerns because sports betting is being moved from illegal to legal markets doesn’t stand up to the smell test.

“Either the leagues are looking for a handout, or they’ve been grossly negligent about integrity up until now.”

Salerno, too, bristles at the leagues’ demands.

“Who’s been protecting the integrity of sports for the past 50 years? The bookmakers.

In the NBA finals last year, LeBron James had a broken hand, the NBA knew about it and they didn’t tell us.

Where’s the integrity in something like that?

Get in Line Call it what it is—a royalty fee.”

If the leagues prosper from sports betting, will customers have cause to question the game outcomes?

The repercussions of high taxes on online and mobile bets can only be calculated over time.

It may not be a close game.

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