Dauphin County reviewing court decision on casino revenue

//October 3, 2016

Dauphin County reviewing court decision on casino revenue

//October 3, 2016

The court last week ruled unconstitutional a provision in state law governing how annual casino revenue impacts money available for local grants through what is called a local share assessment.

Justices essentially said the state gambling law imposes different tax rates on casinos depending on their size, which is a violation of uniformity standards in the state Constitution.

State lawmakers were given four months to clarify the issue.

If the local grants dry up, property tax increases are a real possibility for municipalities that host casinos across the state, according to multiple reports. And many community projects that benefit from the local distribution from counties might not happen without service reductions or municipal tax increases, officials said. 

“Without this money, important projects and equipment purchases would either have been put on hold or, in some cases, forced local officials to increase property taxes to cover the cost,” said Amy Richards Harinath, a spokeswoman for the Dauphin County commissioners.

Revenue from slots and table games last year at Hollywood Casino in East Hanover Township, which opened in 2008, translated into about $13.5 million for Dauphin County, according to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board’s annual report for 2015-16.

The county doles out about half of its annual slot-machine revenue in the form of gaming grants to fund local projects.

“Since 2008, Dauphin County’s has received more than $106 million in local share funds for critical infrastructure improvements, public safety and public health-related programs,” Harinath said.

The county plans to work with lawmakers to resolve the issue, she said.

Annual report

Here are a few other highlights from the annual state casino report.

Pennsylvania’s 12 casinos employed more than 18,000 people in the fiscal year that ended in June, a 3.2 percent increase over the previous year, while total tax revenue from slot machines and table games was up 2.6 percent.

The board also said tax revenue from casino gaming statewide was $1.44 billion compared with about $1.41 billion in 2014-15.