Violent Video Game Tax Proposed In Pennsylvania

Politicians want to tax violent video games 10% extra.

212 Comments

Lawmakers from Pennsylvania have put forth a bill that proposes a 10% excise tax on violent video games. House Bill 109 seeks to impose the so-called "sin tax" on games sold at retail that are rated by the ESRB as M for Mature or Adults-Only. The money would go into a fund called the "Digital Protection for School Safety Account" that aims to enhance security measures at schools in the wake of the school shootings in Parkland, Florida and Newtown, Connecticut.

State representative Chris Quinn, a republican, initially put forth the bill in 2018, but it never made it out of committee during the 2018 legislative session. The new version is similarly worded.

The 10 percent tax would be in addition to applicable state and local taxes. The sales tax rate in Pennsylvania is 6%, which means a standard $60 game costs around $64. With the extra 10 percent tax on violent games, the cost of an M-rated game like Red Dead Redemption 2 would make the game end up costing about $70.

Explaining the bill last year, Quinn said violent video games might be an element in the rise of school shootings in America. "One factor that may be contributing to the rise in, and intensity of, school violence is the material kids see, and act out, in video games," he said.

Quinn cited the National Center for Health Research's statement that studies demonstrate a link between violent video games and increases in aggressive thoughts and behaviors. Quinn's comments conveniently leave out the same statement's disclaimer that other factors like mental illness, access to weapons, and adverse environments should be considered as other risk factors. Not only that, but the National Center for Health Research's own reporting states that studies have not shown that aggression leads to increased instances of deadly violence or criminal activity.

Expectedly, the Entertainment Software Association, which lobbies on behalf of the video game industry, is taking a hard line against this bill. In a statement to Variety, the ESA the bill is a violation of the US Constitution.

"Numerous authorities--including scientists, medical professionals, government agencies, and the US Supreme Court--found that video games do not cause violence," it said. "We encourage Pennsylvania legislators to work with us to raise awareness about parental controls and the ESRB video game rating system, which are effective tools to ensure parents maintain control over the video games played in their home."

After the Sandy Hook shooting, a lawmaker from Connecticut proposed a similar tax in 2013. Also that year, a state representative from Missouri proposed a sales tax on games rated M and above. In both cases, the funds would have gone towards mental health programs. However, the bills never became law.

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Thanatos2k

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Pure idiocy. Tax the politician salaries by 10% instead, you'll make more.

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Jinzo_111887

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@Thanatos2k: Agreed. I beat Undertale and I didn't gain any LOVE in the game or in real life.

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IM_A_BIG_DB

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Another year another politician trying to blame video games for something.

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Larowyn

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Larowyn  Online

"One factor that may be contributing to the rise in, and intensity of, school violence is the material kids see, and act out, in video games"

Actually, school shooters (I assume that's what they mean by "school violence") play less than their classmates, not more. But I know facts and politicians have a strained relationship.

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Richardthe3rd

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Violation of first amendment unless they can satisfy the "clear and present danger" test. They can't.

Other states have tried this and failed. Next.

10 • 
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Johnny_Eagle

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What exactly is being a "violent video game" considered here?

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ello432

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@Johnny_Eagle:"(a) Imposition.--A tax is imposed on each separate sale at retail of video games that have an adults only rating or mature rating according to the rating system established by the board(ESRB)." all AO and M ESRB rated games would get taxed violent or not.

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F-Lambda

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Edited By F-Lambda

@ello432: I sense a lawsuit from the publisher of a sexy, but non-violent, game incoming.

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ello432

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@f-lambda: That's mentioned in the bill but I think those types of games are exempt or would fall under a different law

"Video game." An electronic game that involves interaction with a user interface to generate visual feedback on a video device. The term does not include a game that contains obscene material or performances as defined in 18 Pa.C.S. § 5903(b) (relating to obscene and other sexual materials and performances)

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F-Lambda

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@ello432: So games can get around the tax by adding sexy content, lol. That just makes the fact they thought this would work even better!

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KamiNoBeniMizu

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They are stupidly out of the loop.

Current consoles have parental control in that if you try to boot up a game starting from a chosen rating (even E), you'll need to enter a password to boot up said game(s).

That, and even some T rated games have "gun violence", while not all M rated games have gun violence. So it's just screwed up from the get go.

If they were smart, they'd see there's no increase in knife (Assassin's Creed), or grenade incidents (Battlefront or Call of Duty), which are also featured in popular M rated franchises.

And there's Batman Arkham Knight, being one of the most "kid friendly" M rated games ever.

Why can't they accept they are in a country where they have psychos wanting to shoot people just for the heck of it?

We need to have more logical people in politics in the US, who sees problems where they actually are.

Even Republican gamers are face palming at that for Pete's sake!

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Jinzo_111887

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@kaminobenimizu: The stupidity of this doesn't just stop there. Think about the nature of digital distribution. I have to wonder how they're going to enforce that state tax on digital games. In my mind, this shows how out of touch this guy is.

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Jazzy_Chua

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@Jinzo_111887: many people pay taxes on digital goods now. Its being cracked down on. As of last year my state (NC) started getting taxed on Steam and other sites.

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KamiNoBeniMizu

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@Jinzo_111887: *Mind blown*

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Jinzo_111887

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Edited By Jinzo_111887

@kaminobenimizu: Prepaid cards can help with this kind of thing and if you can change your address... Well, it kind of shows how stupid this kind of thing is to try on a state level.

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KamiNoBeniMizu

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@Jinzo_111887: "Big brother" government incoming.

... they wish. It seems they want to tax everything in existence to "try" fixing problems that should be fixed by talking about the root cause of it.

If they try putting a tax on bread because it makes people fat... I'll fear for the US.

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Jinzo_111887

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Edited By Jinzo_111887

@kaminobenimizu: Why not have movie studios pay a sin tax for creating R rated movies?

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KamiNoBeniMizu

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@Jinzo_111887: Bye bye Deadpool and his chimichangas!

It would kill theaters and make big producers start their own streaming services.

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Lach0121

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Edited By Lach0121

Yet again, another delusional "solution."

Yeah, I know both sides are guilty, but the right has been on a roll with delusional "solutions" for a long long time.

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csward

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Edited By csward

This is a form of censoring free speech by putting price barriers in front of violent games. Also, it is probably unconstitutional to not tax ALL violent media, not just games. The Senator that keeps bringing this up is so out of touch it's amazing. So gamers have to fund protection for schools even though there's no link between games and violent behavior? **** this guy. I hate sin taxes.

By the way, if it doesn't work in Australia why the **** would it work here?

This guys thinking is "How can I raise taxes to pay for school security without pissing off my base?" Instead of doing the right thing, like raising property tax to pay for school security.

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Tiller720

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Lol maybe find a way to keep the 17+ games out of kids hands The parents are buying them anyways for them which completely voids the need to show ID when buying them.

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Jinzo_111887

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@tiller720: Plus they don't seem to know what parental controls are. I wonder how many know what a V-chip is, too?

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xxmavr1kxx

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Yes, this is exactly what we want our politicians doing.

Looking for some BS reason to appease the Karens who have to much time on their hands from the MLM business who think everything is evil and put a tax on something that is not understood so the money could go into some private business pocket.

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Pyrosa

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...because by givingyour money to the government, they'll magically fix a cultural problem? Sure, that has worked, ever.

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aproxinate

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And people wonder why we torrent

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korpdawg

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@aproxinate:

If people don't pay for quality products, why will they keep producing quality?

Vote with your dollars.

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Jinzo_111887

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@korpdawg: That is why I avoid consoles with paid online multiplayer.

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SebB

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Edited By SebB

Anything to suck the life out of people even more. For the most part video games have always been violent. The real reason for this tax is not for the protection of kids or society, it’s purely to take more money from people. Gaming has gotten bigger and bigger over the past decades and whenever the government sees that with an industry they want a share of the cake.

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CyberJordan

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@sebb: with this fiasco measure the only cake they're going to get is one in the face!

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SebB

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@cyberjordan: :)

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EdwardNygma

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@sebb: Bingo.

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GooberMcDermit

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Because it specifically says violent, they are shooting them selves in the foot (pun intended). Racing games where you can bang into another car, vehicular assault there, how about mario kart and throwing things at other vehicles, can imagine that could be classified as violence or a 'sin', strong language and bullying is classified as assault along with intimidation. The list goes on and on, while the intelligence of politicians drop and drop. People troll on message boards, could doing something like this be called political trolling ?

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csward

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@goobermcdermit: Well in the article it says only adults only or M rated games. Racing games don't generally get an M rating.

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GooberMcDermit

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@csward: I do understand that is what it says. I was simply referring to violence being used in their justification, when in real life many other things fall under the category of violence as well.

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videogameninja

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The “Sin” tax, lol.

Oh, boy.

Well, hitting people where their wallets are is probably the most effective way to implement change (Not saying I agree with this proposal at all, however.) but with that being said I really don’t think this will have much of an effect on those already purchasing these kinds of games.

Personally, I think there are other problems that need to be addressed in relation to the issue and have much more of an impact then whether or not there is violence in a videogame.

-SIN CITY NINJA APPROVED-

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Jinzo_111887

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Edited By Jinzo_111887

@videogameninja: This one is harder to pull off because of digital distribution. With physical media, you need to either buy the game from a physical place like Gamestop or Wal-Mart or have an address for it to be shipped to if you order from the Internet. However, digital distribution doesn't need that. In theory, you could tell you live in a different location and only pay with prepaid cards. There's also free to play games. A possible loophole for violent video games to exploit would be to offer a bare minimum for free and then sell the rest of the base game as DLC.

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darkelf83

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@Jinzo_111887: Digital distribution has basically made what the ESRB does pretty useless. They were created to stop regulation of games but digital sales do not really have any way to enforce the rating (not that they really are much anyway). As long as you have a card in place, it's assumed your of age to make the purchase. Unless you've actually setup child accounts. Which is on the parents, who are in the end responsible anyway.

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F-Lambda

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@darkelf83: Even if the ratings enforcement is less effective now, they're still good at informing the type of content that's the reason for the rating (unlike the MPAA which just slaps a "PG-13" on and calls it good).

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SebB

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@videogameninja: yeah. Looks like they’re forgetting about the separation of church and state. I’m a Christian and I disagree with this tax or the reason for it.

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darkelf83

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'Explaining the bill last year, Quinn said violent video games might be an element in the rise of school shootings in America. "One factor that may be contributing to the rise in, and intensity of, school violence is the material kids see, and act out, in video games," he said.'

Do you know what the M-rating is? MATURE Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.

At 17 most kids are either juniors or seniors in high school and it's doubtful that the "violence" of such games will have such a significant impact that it will cause them to do these violent things. If they are younger or much younger and getting access to these games, it falls on the parents responsibility for what their children are doing.

"the material kids see" and have been seeing for decade after decade on TV and in the movies but hey, why bother with that.

Also why bother add a tax to firearms and ammunition or hold those who allow access to them to minors accountable? Much of the issue is a lack of accountability but people refuse to see it.

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DarthBluntSaber

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@darkelf83: yeah I love how this tax apply to movies or TV shows. And I would argue for every violent video game released there are at least 5 violent movies. I mean, I can't say I've ever played a violent video game that matched the gore and violence of the Saw or Hostile movies. Hell, game of thrones more than gives violent games a run for their money.

But it's almost like they wont go after Hollywood due to the fear of hollywood fighting back and I imagine they believe the video game industry will be an easier fight. Though, if that's their reasoning it just shows that the safety of children isnt their priority, money is.

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csward

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@darkelf83: Gun owners must be part of this guys voting block, so he wouldn't dare tax them!

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MasterFrankGrimes

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This is illegal as ****.

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KamiNoBeniMizu

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@masterfrankgrimes: Politician: WE decide what's legal or illegal!

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MasterFrankGrimes

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@kaminobenimizu: Which is why politicians should never be allowed anywhere near laws.

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KamiNoBeniMizu

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@masterfrankgrimes: We should leave it to the... lawyers. *Ba dum tiss*

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