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Washington Co. lawmakers seek expanded definition of amusement devices

February 12, 2013|By KAUSTUV BASU | k

ANNAPOLIS — A bill by the Washington County delegation that would expand the definition of amusement devices such as a videogame or a pool table to include those not activated by coins was heard by the House Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday.

A similar bill introduced last year was held up because of extended debates over the casino gaming bill.

“It is a technicality,” said Del. Andrew A. Serafini, R-Washington, referring to the bill. “There are other ways people can now use to pay to operate a gaming device.”

The change is necessary, Serafini said, because the current definition of “amusement devices” in Washington County says that they are coin-operated. But there are currently other ways for consumers to use them such as by using a “game-card,” he said.

Serafini said the bill was an effort to keep up with changing technology.

According to a fiscal note by the state’s Department of Legislative Services, an amusement device operator license costs $25 a year while an amusement operator license fee is about $100 a year.

Amusement devices refer to a video game, an electronic game, a claw machine, a bowling game, a pool table, pinball machine among other devices.

Serafini presented the bill at the hearing, but Ways and Means Committee members including the chair, Sheila E. Hixon, D-Montgomery, did not have any questions for him.

A bill, a version of which has been filed by Sen. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, in the Senate, also seeks to change the definition of “gross profits” when it comes to tip jars — a game of chance played by drawing a ticket from a jar.

The bill would help those who sell tip-jar games by deducting a sticker fee for each tip jar from gross profits.

Tip jar gaming usually takes place in restaurants, liquor stores, taverns and clubs.

The Washington County Restaurant & Beverage Association asked last year that the $2 fee for stickers be deducted from gross profits, according to a previous Herald-Mail article, because a sticker fee amounted to double taxation since operators are also taxed on gross profits.

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