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State of Oregon wants its lottery taxes despite shutting down video poker

Roughly 550 bars and restaurants have been asked to pay. Beth Nakamura/Staff (file)

Hundreds of bars and restaurants already struggling to survive are now facing another financial setback. The Oregon Lottery is collecting taxes on each video lottery machine, even though the machines are shut down.

“I was absolutely floored. I could not believe it,” said Gloria Huguley, owner of Newport Steak and Seafood.

Huguley said she owes $2,082 in taxes for the six video lottery machines in her restaurant, which remains closed due to stay-at-home restrictions. The family-run restaurant, with 18 employees, is struggling to survive.

“If I were to shut down it would be very, very emotional and very hard because I love my employees,” said Huguley.

The tax bill is especially frustrating for Huguley because the machines aren’t working. The lottery shut them down on March 17.

“We have no authority to waive it,” said Matt Shelby, spokesperson for the Oregon Lottery. Shelby said the lottery collects the annual amusement device tax on behalf of the Oregon Department of Revenue.

Unlike personal income taxes, which have been pushed back, state revenue wants its tax money from video lottery machines right now. Roughly 550 bars and restaurants have been asked to pay.

“Taxes were incurred before the terminals were turned off and the retailers were compensated for the earnings, which triggered the additional tax,” Rich Hoover, spokesperson for the Department of Revenue wrote in an email to KGW.

Hoover said the state agency is willing to work with retailers to come up with a payment plan.

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State of Oregon wants its lottery taxes despite shutting down video poker Roughly 550 bars and restaurants have been asked to pay. Beth Nakamura/Staff (file) Hundreds of bars and restaurants

Temporary Closures and Reopenings – Covid Protocols

In response to updates on state guidelines on county risk level, Oregon Lottery is working to keep retailers informed and provide resources throughout this temporary closure and phased reopening to ensure your staff’s and customers’ safety.

Please monitor your retailer emails and this page for updated information as it is made available. For additional support, contact your Field Sales Representative or call Customer Service at 1-800-766-6789. Please see the Governor’s Office Guidance for additional information about Oregon’s current guidelines.

Read the most recent retailer communication [insert PDF link of email here], sent to retailers December 2, 2020.

Sections on this page:

Caring for Customers During Covid

Reopening Best Practices

As Video Lottery retailers are allowed to reopen, we will continue to communicate updated best practices and resources.

Examples

Approved Physical Barriers

  • Minimum 36″ wide (from front of VLT)
  • Minimum 36″ tall (at least 1′ above seated head level)
  • Securely mounted

Printable Signage

Now Open banner
4’x3′ banner
PDF template may be sent to any local vinyl banner shop
English | Spanish

Welcome Back directions to players
11″x17″ (tabloid size)
English | Spanish

Welcome Back directions to players (Video Lottery only)
11″x17″ (tabloid size)
English | Spanish

Practice Physical Distancing
8.5″x11″ (letter size)
English | Spanish | Chinese

Video Lottery Machine is Ready
8.5″x11″ (letter size)
To be placed on VLTs to designate machine has been cleaned between players
English | Spanish | Chinese

Video Lottery Machine is Unavailable
8.5″x11″ (letter size)
To be placed on VLTs that are turned off or awaiting cleaning
English

Winner Claims instructions
8.5″x11″ (letter size)
May be placed in “winners’ frame”
English | Spanish

Temporary Closure and Reopening FAQs

Video Lottery FAQs

When does Oregon Lottery plan to turn Video Lottery Terminals back on?

As with prior efforts to safely reopening businesses, we are monitoring the Governor’s office and public health official guidelines to work with retailers in each county as businesses are allowed to do so. As this phased process takes effect, Video Lottery terminals will be turned back on at establishments that can follow new guidelines meant to enhance staff and customer safety. These guidelines address topics such as space between terminals, cleaning protocols, and occupancy.

We will continue to update resources on this page as more information is made available around reopening. Feel free to reach out to your Field Sales Representative or Customer Service at 800-540-1000 for additional information.

The Lottery’s administrative rule governing re-enabling VLTs during reopening phases is available here.

Will retailers be compensated for revenue loss due to the mandatory closures?

No. Unfortunately, there are no plans or funds in place to compensate lost revenue during this unprecedented suspension of play, either for retailers or the Lottery itself.

How will the Oregon Lottery communicate with shop owners who are not on location due to the shutdown?

In addition to ongoing communications from your Field Representative, the Lottery will send periodic emails to the addresses we have on file. We encourage our retail partners to verify and update their contact information as necessary so they don’t miss important updates.

What is the Lottery’s plan for Video Lottery equipment management? Will the Lottery continue to add or remove VLTs based on the retailer’s 52-week average?

With the disabling of VLTs (Video Lottery Terminals) at retail establishments across the state based on the Governor’s executive order, Oregon Lottery has suspended the adding and removing of VLTs based on retailer sales performance until further notice.

This pause will allow Oregon Lottery to introduce a new way of looking at VLT performance.В When the 2020 contract began on June 28, 2020, Oregon Lottery video retailers moved to a commission structure based on dollars played.В To better align equipment management decisions to this model, Oregon Lottery has developed and distributed new thresholds for equipment management at retail.В Field Sales Representatives have been and will continue to be in contact with retailers to explain the new equipment management policy.

Does a retailer need to keep the power on for the VLTs if play is disabled?

Yes, there are several reasons why VLTs should remain powered up including important security reasons. Oregon Lottery’s central video gaming system needs to communicate digitally with all lottery equipment on an ongoing basis. Turning the power off prevents this communication and our ability to monitor security risks. It also prevents us from performing software updates and installation of new games.

Once the current situation resolves, terminals that have not been powered will require hard reboots from a powered-off state. This can cause problems with many terminals including touch screen calibration changes and burnt out fuses. Ordinarily these are issues that a Lottery field technician can remedy quickly. However, when we re-enable the entire state, our field technicians will be understandably busy and may not be available for immediate assistance. Keeping the terminals powered now helps ensure you’ll be back to normal business as soon as possible after Video Lottery is re-enabled.

Read the “Power On” InformationВ you received from the Lottery.

Video Lottery retailer costs during temporary closures

Will EFT drafts continue during the current break in VLT play?

Yes. For the week ending Saturday, November 14th, the EFT draw from Video Lottery retailers will occur on Wednesday, November 18th. For the week ending Saturday, November 21st, the EFT draw from Video Lottery retailers will occur on Wednesday, November 25th.

What is Lottery’s policy on the monthly network line charge during closures?

We understand the financial pressures of the temporary closure. We are waiving the monthly network line charges for December 2020 and January 2021.

General FAQs

How will Lottery handle prize claims during this time?

For now, any prize under $50,000 should beВ claimed by mail. For prizes $50,000 or more, players should call the Oregon Lottery at 503-540-1000 to make an appointment to claim their prize at the Salem office. As always, players should be certain to sign the back of their tickets.

Will Oregon Lottery Sales and Service Representatives stay active in the field?

Yes. Our Gaming Operations department plans to continue service at retail locations still selling Lottery products.

Are changes of ownership and sales of business still in process?

Yes, the letter and contracts will have to be signed after the fact. That would delay a retailer getting their approval letter, copy of the contract and certificate of authority. Nichole Applebee at 503-509-3520 can answer questions related to this.

Are there resources available to help small businesses during the public health emergency?

Governor Brown recently launched a Coronavirus Small Business Resource Navigator to help connect small businesses to financial support that might be available to them during these challenging times. Please visitВ www.oregon4biz.comВ for more information. Additionally, you may contact your congressional representatives for assistance navigating the many changes at the federal level. VisitВ house.gov/representatives/find-your-representativeВ to find contact information.

I need my articles of incorporation/organization to apply for federal assistance. Can I get those from Lottery?

The fastest way to get your articles of incorporation/organization is from theВ Secretary of State Corporation DivisionВ website.

As we work together during Phase 1 re-opening, we’d like to share some best practices to help you navigate new processes meant to ensure your staff’s and customers’ safety. ]]>