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Thursday, March 14, 2013 - 5:02am

Video Poker Bill Up For Vote

The state Senate is expected to vote on a measure Thursday that would allow the state to regulate video poker machines that award non-cash prizes.

The bill's backers want to crack down on what they say are the machines' under-the-table payouts.

They are concerned that the current unregulated system allows customers to walk away with untaxed winnings.

HB 487 would require that winnings only be distributed in the form of "free replays, merchandise, points, tokens, vouchers, tickets, and cards", to be redeemed at the location of play.

Rep. Matt Ramsey, the bill's sponsor and a Peachtree City Republican, says there are legal as well as financial reasons to support the bill.

"We've had stories come up of millions and millions of dollars of cash walking out of these gas stations," he said. "No taxes are being paid, no laws are being followed."

Proceeds from the machines would go to the lottery to pay for state college scholarships.

Under the bill, anyone wanting to provide access to video poker machines must have a license and every machine must be connected to a central communications network for monitoring.

Those who don't comply would be subject to fines up to $50,000.

If the Senate passes the measure without changes it will go to the Governor. Any amendments will send it back to the House.

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