Gaming Board Head Confident the Court Will Approve Slots Licensees
On March 14, 2007, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board head commented that he is confident that the State's Supreme Court will eventually recognize the 5 slot machines licenses that the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board awarded in December 2006.
However, Chairman Tad Decker said that in the event that the court will ask them to review their decision regarding the licenses, it could delay the opening of a 5 non-racing track casinos for about a year, like the one in Pittsburgh, which may not open until December 2009.
The Supreme Court will schedule hearings in May regarding the lawsuits that have been filed by applicants who did not win any slot licenses last December. The decision on the matter could take several months. When the Pennsylvania Gaming Board awarded the 5 licenses in December 2006, they said that they are expecting the casinos to open within a span of 2 years.
If they have to be reviewed again, it may delay the casino openings and affect the expected profits that the state may receive. Until the problem is straightened out, the licenses cannot be issued to Mr. Don Barden of the Majestic Star Casino, who won the license in Pittsburgh. Aside from this problem, Mr. Decker announced that they will be opening the 2nd round of slots issuance.
There are no applicants at the moment because the Seven Springs Casino in Somerset County and the Nemacolin Woodlands in the Fayette County have withdrawn from the deal. Decker said that they want to issue the 14 slots licenses so that the state can use the profits coming from the slots casinos.
By June 30th, the end of the fiscal year, gambling in the state will have given around $500 million, according to Mr. Decker. Of that income, about $300 million have come from $50 million slots license fees that the following 6 racing tracks have paid: Mohegan Sun at the Pocono Dawns in Wilkes-Barre, Philadelphia Park, Harrah's Casino and the Racing Track in Chester, which is located in the south of Philadelphia, the Presque Isle Downs in Erie, The Meadows located in Washington, Country and Penn National Race Course in Harrisburg.
The first 4 casinos have opened for business in the Meadows in May and the Penn National by 2008. The rest of the cash from the 55% Pennsylvania tax on the gross terminal profits, which is the amount of cash that is left on the casinos coffers after the winners were paid out.
Of that overall total, about 34% goes to the payment of taxes in the lower property and about 5% goes to economic development, like a new home for the Penguins Hockey Team.
Gaming Board Official Asks About the Viability of Slots Profits
On February 20th, 2008, House legislators interview the state's top gambling regulator about the honesty of the slots-financed property tax cuts and the decision to grant a casino license to an up and coming businessman who is now currently facing perjury charges before the state police.
Gambling Control Board head Mary DiGiacomo Colins commented that the slot machine profits should give the state $854 million this year, which is equivalent to average property cuts of $182 per resident. Colins leads a group of gambling board members and staff who attended a House Appropriations Committee at the board's yearly budget meeting.
They have faced stringent questions from Republican legislators who sounded doubtful about the continuing health of the slot machines. Colins commented that more casino facilities will open in the coming years to allocate more cash into tax cuts.
After Dauphin County's Hollywood Casino at the Penn National debuted last week, the state has now opened seven casino facilities for business and is allowed to open fourteen casinos under the 2004 slots law. When prompt about the possibility of the state of Maryland allowing slot machines, Colins commented that no casinos in the state of Pennsylvania are closed enough to be affected. Colins commented that the slot machines in Maryland would have a huge impact in Gettysburg area but the regulators have dismissed a plan for a casino in the town in 2006.
Colins face her hardest questions about the situation of Louis DeNaples, who was charged with lying about some facts in his past to win the casino for Mount Airy in Monroe County. Colins defended their decision to give DeNaples the slots casino license, which has been revoked until a decision is reached by the court.
Colins commented that the state police did not give them adequate information regarding their probe in DeNaples' past and she is hoping that this could change in the near future.