Mechanical amusement device tax vetoed

A bill that would impose an additional tax on operators of mechanical amusement devices was passed by the Legislature, but was vetoed May 27 by Gov. Pete Ricketts.

Columbus Sen. Paul Schumacher, the bill sponsor, chose not to attempt a veto override. His bill, LB70, would impose the tax—10 percent of the gross revenue derived from the operation of the device—on any business operating a mechanical amusement device.

These devices include any machine that enables a person to play a game by inserting some form of currency, pays a prize and determines the results by chance.

In his veto letter to the Legislature, Ricketts said that the devices represent an expansion of gambling—an issue voters repeatedly have rejected.

“While merely indicating such devices have paid taxes cannot legalize such terminals, there will be a presumption that such devices and the games on them are legal in Nebraska,” he wrote. “I am concerned that the practical effect of the bill will give de facto legal status to these potentially illegal gaming machines.”

Schumacher opted to not file a motion to override the veto, saying that he and the governor would work over the interim on the issue.

The bill would apply to mechanical amusement devices that:
• accept currency, coins, tokens or other value in exchange for play;
• award a monetary prize or anything redeemable for a monetary prize;
• are played by a player using a touch screen, computer mouse, touch pad, light pen, laser or device of similar function by which the player competes against software running the device; and
• have not been adjudicated by a court of competent jurisdiction within the state of Nebraska to not constitute a gambling device.

Senators had passed the bill May 21 on a 35-11 vote.

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