A number of skill gaming operators that run a few casinos situated in the North Platte area of the state of Nebraska have been taken into custody on state charges.
Last week, the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office arrested Bridget and Mark Haneborg, with the arrests coming approximately six months after law enforcement authorities raided the skill gaming establishment operated by the couple. Apart from the venue, known as the Hanebourg’s River Valley Casino, the home of the couple was raided the same day.
In their arrest affidavit that was filed at the beginning of the month, Nebraskan law enforcement authorities revealed that a probe of the aforementioned business alleged that Bridget and Mark Haneborg were actively engaged in violation of tax laws, called an income tax evasion. According to the allegations, the state income tax filings made by the couple for the period from 2019 to 2021 were falsified.
As revealed by the sheriff’s office, the Haneborgs reported a gross business income of only $33,858 for 2020, although they operated no less than 105 cash skill gaming devices. Based on the tax filings made by other skill gaming operators, the machines run by the couple should have generated an income exceeding $1 million during the aforementioned tax period.
The investigation held into the couple’s finances revealed that their business shared approximately $425,000 in revenue with the manufacturers of their skill gaming machines and the route distributors that year.
The Couple Circumventing Skill Machine Tax Laws Could Face More Charges in Nevada Court
Bridget and Mark Haneborg have each faced charges with three counts of income tax evasion, as well as a single count of filing fraudulent state income tax forms. They could also face some federal charges for their transgressions.
According to claims made by investigators in Lincoln County, the Haneborgs owe the state income tax of almost $108,560 for the period from 2019 to 2021. The state of Nebraska is also seeking $57,280 in penalties and over $5,000 in interest for the aforementioned period. Under the provisions of Nebraska legislation, prosecutors are allowed to raise charges of tax evasion from minor wrongdoing to a felony, with a person who was found guilty of a tax evasion offence set to face an imprisonment sentence of up to two years, as well as a $10,000 fine.
The couple was released from Lincoln County Jail on bail after each of them paid 10% of the $25,000 they were supposed to hand over to the authorities.
The problem with so-called skill gaming machines is the fact that they not only look and sound but also pretty much operate like a traditional slot machine. There is, however, a major difference in their functionality, and that is exactly the “skill” component, which requires a player to identify a winning payline. In comparison, traditional slot machines automatically inform the player if their spin was a winning one.
Skill gaming machines gained legal footing in the state back in 2011, when the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled in favor of the terminals, saying that the terminals do not violate state gaming laws due to the skill element. Nebraska’s Department of Revenue responded to the high court ruling with a decision that all businesses that are willing to house the skill gaming machines need to first get an annual operating permit in order to host the terminals.
For the time being, businesses that are situated on up to 4,999 square feet are allowed to host four skill gaming terminals in return for a license fee of $750. The revenue generated by such venues is not subject to taxation but has to be split between the machines’ host establishment and the gaming distributor or manufacturer. For every additional 1,000 square feet of space, businesses are allowed to add one more skill gaming machine, with a cap put on 15 machines in total. Each additional machine adds another $250 to the license tax on an annual basis.