Earlier this week, we did a story regarding a Pennsylvania court ruling that basically made it illegal for communities to demand casinos to pay them just for existing. The ruling was handed down in September, however already in place payments were said to be allowed to go on until the middle of January.
Despite this ruling, most Pennsylvania casinos have pledged that they will continue paying the host fees as normal. Even though these pledges have been made, state lawmakers are hoping to get a new casino payment plan in place quickly after the turn of the New Year.
According to a local news station, representatives from all 12 of Pennsylvania’s casinos are being asked to descend upon Harrisburg on January 3rd to hold a meeting. Though there are reportedly many issues that lawmakers are wanting to tackle with regard to the structure and organization of casinos in the state, chief among them is the reconfiguring of the payment plans that were struck down in September.
With a ruling stating that communities cannot force a casino to pay them just for existing, future casinos may enter the market and never even think about paying their host communities. When this happens, the 11 of 12 already existing casinos that are paying host fees out of the kindness of their heart might also reconsider. Before that slippery slope is ventured out upon, lawmakers would like to draft some sort of legislation that sees casinos support the communities that they exist within without being forced, or without being forced to pay a very specific nominal fee.
After all, if the state of Pennsylvania wishes to continue reaping the tax dollar benefits that come along with the existence of casinos, they are going to need to do something to make more casinos want to enter the state’s market. For this reason, lawmakers must exercise extreme caution when drafting any sort of legislation. Perhaps this is why a meeting has been scheduled for January 3rd. Perhaps lawmakers are trying to get a feel for what casinos will and will not tolerate as far as mandated measures to support their host communities are concerned.
Just as it is throughout most of the United States, casino laws in Pennsylvania are constantly being reviewed and changed. There is still no clear way of knowing what the outcome of the host fee debacle will be, but we are all hoping that it is a net positive for anyone and does not do anything to hurt what is, truthfully, a thriving casino industry in the state of Pennsylvania. What we do know, however, is that the first month of 2017 is likely to be brimming with casino news from PA.
On top of all of this, there is some talk with regard to Pennsylvania exploring intrastate, online casinos in the coming 12 months. With neighboring states like New Jersey and Delaware already well-established as far as online casino gaming is concerned, most people think that the next, most logical step for PA is to do the same.