PA Senators Want More Time to Figure Out Casino Tax Law

by Jim Hall

Pennsylvania StateLegislators in Pennsylvania need more time to determine what to do about a casino tax law, hoping to receive an extension by the state Supreme Court.

The state of Pennsylvania is running out of time to try and come up with a solution in regards to a casino tax law that was changed by the state Supreme Court back in September. Last year, the court ruled that a casino host tax in the state was unconstitutional as smaller venues paid a different amount than larger casinos. The fee was a minimum of $10 million or 2% of the slot revenues whichever amount is larger, which meant most paid the $10 million fee to host communities. The state Supreme Court gave lawmakers 120 days to change the law and this time frame is almost up.

More Time Please

The lawmakers of the state are hoping that the state Supreme Court will provide them with 120 more days in which to decide what to do. The law in regards to the casino tax is now invalid and would have seen $140 million+ paid to the local governments of the state via the casinos. Many gaming venues have already promised to pay up as they want to continue to help the community. However, the Sands does not intend on paying anything until they know what lawmakers are going to do.

According to the Associated Press, legislators have filed a nine page petition trying to persuade the court to give them more time to fix the casino law. In their ruling, the high court of the state decided that the municipal portion of the local share tax that most casinos pay is unconstitutional. This was due to the fact that the law treated the gaming venues differently. Many counties are affected as well as major cities, who count on the funds to operate.

The Supreme Court had stayed their decision until the 26th of January, giving Senators a 120 day time frame in which to fix the legislation. However, lawmakers were unable to make any changes and hope that they will be given even more time to come up with a solution.

Paying Anyway

As lawmakers were unable to come to a decision on legislation, the casinos in the state decided to make agreements with their host community. Most casinos will be making their regular quarterly payments in mid-April. If the court decides to give legislators more time, this would infringe upon this payment period.

Most casinos came out over the last few weeks and decided to continue with payments to assist the community. For those living in the state, this is seen as a sign of good faith. With the Sands not agreeing to make payments and being the largest venue in the state, it looks bad on the gaming venue. The Sands does not have to make their payment but it would be a show of good faith that they care about the community.

The Attorney General of the state actually came forward soon after the Sands announced they would not be making their payment and said he would not feel obligated to try cases involving the Sands and bad checks or other issues due their negligence of the community. The Sands fired back stating they are heavily involved in the community and have paid much into the area.

Despite showing good efforts towards the community, it does look poor to be the only casino not willing to pay up to the host community. We shall now have to wait and see as to if the state Supreme Court will be agreeable to the extended wait time or enact their ruling on the 26th of January after lawmakers have been unable to make any changes to the casino law.