A bill that would allow Scotland County to tax Internet gaming parlors recently passed the state House of Representatives.
Introduced by state Rep. Garland Pierce of Wagram, the bill would allow the county to charge establishments for licenses totaling $2,000 per establishment and $400 per Internet gaming machine.
Pierce learned of the opportunity during meetings with the county earlier this year, and took the idea to the House floor, where it is now.
Worth noting is that following the reading of House Bill 1174, more legislation — House Bill 1180 — was introduced which would give North Carolina the first chance to bill the parlors. That bill may supersede the local one.
HB 1180 would see the state charge $2,000 per establishment and $1,000 per machine as well as an excise tax on gross revenues.
The counties would then be permitted to bill the establishments in excess of those totals, up to $1,000 per location and $500 per machine.
Under that bill, county and municipal law enforcement will receive a small portion of revenue from the tax, with 4 percent going to county sheriffs and 2 percent to municipal police departments, both distributed on a per capita basis. The remaining revenues will be earmarked to the state Board of Education.
House Bill 1180 could upset the plans of several area governments that already charge the establishments in excess of those totals, including the city of Laurinburg ($2,000 per establishment and $400 per machine) as well as Cumberland County.
According to Patterson, the city received more than $200,000 in revenue by billing the establishments during this most recent financial year.
“If there’s any money to be had, the state is going to find a way to get it,” said County Commissioner John Cooley regarding House Bill 1180.
If Scotland County’s bill were to pass in the current short session, it would need to advance from the Committee on Government to the Finance Committee. From there it would proceed to its second and third readings on the House floor.
“It’s possible that either of these bills have a good chance of passing in the current session,” said Patterson.
Were the bill to pass this summer, the county could begin seeing revenues from the licensing as soon as January 1 of 2013.
The Internet Sweepstakes businesses were recently deemed constitutional to operate by the North Carolina Supreme Court.