Neall wants tax on instant bingo

December 16, 1993|By John Rivera | John Rivera,Staff Writer

Anne Arundel County Executive Robert R. Neall, entering his last year of office, has a slim wish list for the county's legislative delegation when the General Assembly session starts next month.

Mr. Neall is requesting just one piece of legislation, a bill that would enable the county to apply the amusements tax to instant scratch-off bingo cards that are sold at bingo parlors.

"We like to take every opportunity to gather new monies into the county," Myron V. Wotring, Mr. Neall's legislative liaison told a gathering of the county's state delegates and senators last night at the annual legislative dinner at the Loew's Annapolis Hotel.

The bill would amend the state tax code to include instant bingo cards under the definition of a "game of entertainment" that is subject to the amusement tax.

Officials estimate that taxing instant bingo would bring the county an additional $240,000 in revenue annually. County attorney Judson P. Garrett Jr. said his staff discovered during some litigation that taxes were not being collected on the instant bingo cards as they were on regular bingo games.

Mr. Garrett issued an opinion that concluded "there is no distinction between instant bingo and not-so-instant bingo," and that the county should be collecting taxes on the cards.

But the attorney general's office issued an opinion last month that said state law does not allow the county to levy an amusement tax on instant bingo because it is not a "game" with rules, special equipment and a facility where it is played.

"The sale of instant bingo tickets is truly akin to the sale of instant lottery tickets, chance books, and raffle tickets, none of which are subject to the admissions and amusement tax," the attorney general's opinion said.

Del. John Gary, R-Millerville, questioned county officials as to how they planned to collect the tax, when the cards are sold to the bingo parlor owner, or when a patron buys a card.

County officials could not provide answers last night.

"You're asking us to pass the bill and I don't understand how you're going to collect the tax," an incredulous Mr. Gary observed.

After a presentation on a proposed $25 million convention center in Annapolis, Sen. John A. Cade, R-Severna Park, urged those working on the project to quickly prepare a proposal to seek some state funding in this 1994 legislative session.

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