Howard Stutz, CDC Gaming Reports · May 14, 2019 at 12:08 am

Two members of Congress from large gaming states asked the Treasury Department Monday to increase the reporting threshold for slot machine jackpots and bingo winnings from $1,200 to $5,000, saying the figure is outdated.

In a letter to Assistant Treasury Secretary David Kautter, Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nevada, and Rep. Darin LaHood, R-Illinois, said the $1,200 reporting threshold was set in 1977 and has never been updated. A $1,200 jackpot has been devalued due to inflation and causes “excessive burden to the gaming industry, a main economic driver in our districts.”

The request comes almost three years after the gaming industry and its congressional representatives beat back an effort by the Internal Revenue Service to lower the reporting threshold to $600. The IRS was also considering requiring casinos to mandate electronic player tracking as way for tax reporting purposes.
A grass roots effort led by the American Gaming Association helped to kill the proposals.

In February, new AGA CEO Bill Miller, in a letter to Congress, listed raising the current slot tax reporting threshold to $5,000 as one of the Washington D.C.’s organization’s top priorities for the 116th Congress.

“The gaming industry strongly supports the efforts of Reps. Titus and LaHood to update the antiquated threshold for reporting slot machine winnings while relieving associated burdens for casinos, their patrons and the IRS alike,” Miller said Monday. He also called the reporting requirements “outdated for decades, creating inefficiencies, paperwork and unnecessary hurdles,”

In the letter, Titus and LaHood said the IRS jackpot reporting requirements cause a slot machine to lock up and halt play while the tax forms a filled out. Because of inflation, $1,200 slot jackpots are more common than they were 42 years ago, when the figure was established.

Titus, whose district includes the Las Vegas Strip, and LaHood, whose central Illinois district covers casinos in Peoria and businesses with video lottery terminals, said in the letter, “Raising the threshold would reduce the paperwork burden on businesses and players while ensuring the tax code reflects current economic realities.

Titus spokesman Kevin Gerson said the letter was to give the Treasury Department time to determine if it would “use its statutory authority” to make a change in the reporting threshold. If not, Titus will decide if it’s necessary to introduce legislation.

When the AGA and the gaming industry halted the IRS proposal, which was announced in 2015 and defeated more than a year later, casino leaders asked that the reporting threshold be increased.

According to AGA, there has been a significant increase in the number of reportable jackpots, “causing more operational inefficiencies and adding to the sea of W-2G forms currently flooding an underbudgeted and understaffed IRS each year.”

Miller said the casinos are “the only businesses that must take their assets out of production to comply with their tax information reporting obligations.”

Last year, former Nevada Senator Dean Heller sent a similar letter to Kautter, asking the Treasury Department to raise the threshold to $5,000, but the agency did not respond. Heller, a Republican, lost his re-election bid.

Howard Stutz is the executive editor of CDC Gaming Reports. He can be reached athstutz@cdcgamingreports.com. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.