More Pennsylvania Casinos Agree to Pay Host Community Fee; Sands Still Holding Out

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In September, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Mount Airy Casino that a community fee paid by casinos to the host municipality was unconstitutional. The casinos of the state had to pay $10 million or 2% of slot revenue, whichever amount is higher, to the host community, based on gaming law. Mount Airy argued the terms are unfair to smaller gaming venues when compared to the larger casinos. The court agreed and gave lawmakers until the end of January to make a decision and change the tax.

In the meantime, host communities have been scrambling, trying to figure out how they will meet budget shortfalls due to funds not coming in from the casinos if a fix is not provided. Many gaming venues have decided to come to an agreement with the host community and pay the fee. The Hollywood Casino in Dauphin County, Harrah’s in Chester and Parx Casino have all agreed to pay their fee. Now it seems the Rivers Casino has also joined in.

Officials of the Rivers Casino and Mayor William Peduto were able to come to a final agreement last week and the City Council has approved the agreement this week. The agreement is tentative and the Council will meet tomorrow to cast their final vote on the matter.

Peduto thanked the casino for being committed to Pittsburgh and that the next step is for the legislators of the state to find a long term solution to the funding gap. Back in October, Pittsburgh requested that the Rivers Casino pay the $10 million annual fee in gaming taxes voluntarily. The request was due to the ruling by the state Supreme Court and the local share assessment being rejected. Negotiations have been ongoing since that time and now an agreement has been made.

It seems most casinos are coming to an agreement with their host municipalities in order to see the community continue to thrive thanks to casino gaming funds. However, the Sands Casino is one gaming venue that does not have plans to pay up, instead waiting to see if legislators will come up with a solution.

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