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Win-Loss Statements Bill in Pennsylvania Receives Committee Approval

Yesterday, the Pennsylvania House Gaming Oversight Committee approved a bill requiring casinos in Pennsylvania to mail casino patrons with club cards monthly statements reflecting win/loss amounts.  When I first learned of this measure, I presumed the bill’s advertised purpose was to enhance the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue’s ability to collect tax revenue on gambling winnings.  After all, the state is facing a $4 billion budget deficit.  Nevertheless, I thought wrong.

State Representative Paul Clymer, the leading proponent of the bill, claims that it will inform addicted casino patrons of monies lost in the state’s casinos, calling it a “consumer protection issue.”  “If these monthly statements were to keep coming in, then the spouse, who might not know about the gambling, will start asking questions,” Clymer said.

I’m all for implementing reasonable methods to treat gambling addictions.  If a card club member’s bank statements reflecting excessive ATM withdrawals fail to mitigate addiction, I’m hard pressed to believe a monthly letter showing losses will make any difference.  State Representative Tina Davis also has doubts:

I understand the intent. Clymer wants to help addicts.  But I need to see some evidence that this bill would actually help addicts to break their addictions.

Clymer’s bill platform is misguided.  He is far more likely to win the support of fellow state lawmakers by ensuring that the bill will also address the state’s fiscal troubles.  Here’s a suggestion: include a requirement that the statements must also sent to the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue.  Considering the Form W-2G is issued only under certain circumstances, plenty of additional potential tax revenue from gambling winnings goes uncollected year after year.

We’ll see how much further this bill progresses.

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