Sands Casino Bethlehem Not Interested in Paying Host Fee

by Kyle Miller

Sands Casino BethlehemWhile many Pennsylvania casinos are paying a host fee after they no longer have to, the Sands Casino is not taking part.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court decided to strike down a law in the state that requires casinos to pay $10 million in casino host fees or 2% of slot revenues to the host city, whichever amount is larger. The court ruled that the law was unconstitutional and lawmakers have only until January to be able to come up with a plan for casino host fee amounts.

For now, casinos do not have to pay the host fee which is harmful to the local communities which rely on the funds to pay for programs such as ones for seniors or children’s education. Many casinos have opted to continue paying the amount they were before or made agreements with local municipalities in efforts to continue to assist the community. However, one such gaming venue is not interested.

Sands Casino Bethlehem Refuses

Several casinos in the state have agreed to continue to provide communities with casino monies in efforts to continue to fund fire and police forces, homeless shelters and more. The Parx Casino located in Bensalem was the fifth location to agree to continue to pay casino money next year even if legislators are not able to restore the fee before the money is stopped by January.

Deals were created by host communities and the Hollywood Casino, Harrah’s, Rivers and the Mohegan Sun and more are expected to follow the same path in the next few weeks. However, the Sands Casino of Bethlehem does not seem to have plans to continue with payments. Officials of the Sands met with Robert Donchez, the Mayor of Bethlehem last week and told him that they are going to follow legislators.

Because the Sands will be waiting to see what happens, the city has no idea if they will have the funds to pay 100 police officers. Ron Reese is a spokesman for the Las Vegas Sands Corp. who stated that they are not going to speculate any future outcome by legislators and they will wait to see as it unfolds and then follow and act accordingly.

The mayor of Bethlehem is apparently not worried just yet. Donchez stated that he met with the Sands and they are hopeful that legislators will find a fix for the issue. If nothing has happened by April, the city will talk to the Sands and move on from there.

Where the Problem Began

The issue with the casino host tax began when the Mount Airy venue of Monroe County filed a motion to challenge the fee of $10 million to be paid by gaming venues. The casino argued that the fee is in violation of the tax uniformity clause that is located in the state constitution. The Supreme Court agreed and legislators have until the 26th of January to fix the problem before the money will stop flowing.

Despite legislators not being able to come up with a solution in November, many gaming venues will keep making payments due to what the payments are used for. The critical needs of the community are at stake and many gaming venues do not want to see issues arise and they want to continue with their commitment to the community.

The Rivers Casino announced with their continued payments that they will be reinforcing their commitment to their hometown and will be working collaboratively with officials of the city to ensure that $10 million in annual local share payments from the casino will continue to be uninterrupted throughout 2017.

This is just one sentiment of many gaming venues, besides the Sands, who want to continue to give to the community despite legal issues.