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The Virtue of Vice Capital: Taxes on Strip Clubs, Marijuana and Gambling to Assuage the Massive Budget Deficit.
Raising taxes has little appeal to anyone; however states in the US are coming up with creative ways to enter into lucrative markets: taxing specific products and services as they attempt to alleviate massive budget deficits.
Giving new meaning to the term Pole Tax, Georgia’s Republican State Senator Jack Murphy introduced a “pole tax” charging patrons of gentlemen's clubs an extra $5 at the door. The bill was not passed. A similar tax was passed in Texas, but later repealed as “unconstitutional”.
Oakland, California became the first city in the US to tax medical marijuana. Other California cities have assessed a similar measure. The Wall Street Journal published an article last week on the booming medicinal marijuana industry in California. The article claims marijuana sales, legal and illegal, are estimated to be a total of $14 billion dollars a year, and goes on to say that medical marijuana makes up approximately an eighth of that number. According to Dale Gieringer, director of the state's chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, California has three million pot smokers, including 350,000 with doctors' recommendations. Widely touted as less dangerous than other legal substances such as tobacco and alcohol; pot has legitimate medicinal applications. California has the largest supply of home grown marijuana in the US (worth an estimated US$14 billion a year) and a state budget deficit of more than US$26 billion.
Nineteen states have explored gambling-related tax measures to balance their top heavy 2010 budgets, according to the National Council of State Legislatures. Congressmen Jim McDermott's Gambling Bill proposes a small tax for online casinos: the act would create a 2% tax on gross receipts by licensed online gaming sites. McDermott's website says studies conservatively estimated federal revenues from online gambling could be as high as $43 billion over a decade, with many billions more for local governments. Local US governors are swiftly proposing gaming acts to erase budget deficits. In the next few years the overall entertainment and publishing industry is expected to be worth more than $2 trillion driven by a wave of growth in online video games/gambling, music, social networking/UGC, online video etc.
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