Video poker interests get organized

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News,Business

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Video poker interests in Louisiana are organizing to fight possible taxes on the devices.

The Advocate reports (http://bit.ly/130Asn6) that's a chief goal of the new Louisiana Video Gaming Association.

Organization president Stan Guidroz said video poker operators want to be sure legislators don't raise taxes on them but not on riverboats and other casinos.

Guidroz is a vice president for Jacobs Entertainment Inc.

Truckstops now pay a tax of 32.5 percent on gambling revenue, the state's highest gambling tax, Guidroz said. Bars and restaurants pay 26.5 percent.

Local governments get 25 percent of the taxes.

Guidroz says riverboats, racinos and Harrah's New Orleans Casino pay lower rates.

While no bills were filed during the Legislature's current session that specifically target video poker for a tax increase, the industry is watching to be sure amendments to do so aren't added to other legislation, Guidroz said.

Guidroz said the state's video poker industry expects to invest around $100 million in new machines by the end of 2015. State police, which regulates the industry through a centralized computer, is moving to new software and the oldest video poker machines won't be able to communicate with the new software, he said.

Guidroz said half of the state's 14,000-plus video poker machines need replacement though others could be upgraded.

"We're going to unplug a machine that's paid for or roughly paid for," Guidroz said. "We're going to go buy another $13,000 machine, plug it in and play the exact same thing."

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