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Short-term casino fix clears Pa. Senate

House would need to pass the bill today, the final day of legislative voting session

The state Senate on Tuesday passed an emergency bill that would give lawmakers six months to fix a provision in the state law governing taxation of casinos, while allowing slot revenue to continue flowing into local communities that host casinos.

The state Supreme Court last month ruled 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. The court ruling would choke off tax revenue earmarked for counties and municipalities, unless lawmakers clarify the issue.

The court provided 120 days to fix the revenue issue, but with the 2015-16 voting session for the General Assembly ending today, lawmakers came up with a short-term plan that would impose a temporary $10 million host fee on casinos.

The House still has to approve the amended bill, House Bill 1887, today or it dies and would have to be reintroduced next year.

At stake is a local share worth more than $140 million across Pennsylvania.

In Dauphin County, about half of its annual slot-machine revenue is doled out in the form of grants for local projects. The county received more than $13 million last year and awarded about $6.2 million in gaming grants.

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