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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Monday, June 22, 2015

NorCo Council Acts to Take Control Over Table Games Revenue

Though Pennsylvania has no money trees, it has the next best thing - casinos. Last year, the state's 12 casinos raked in $2.3 billion. Bethlehem's Sands Casino Resort raked in gross revenues of over $280 million, of which $188 million came from table games alone. Northampton County's slots revenue, which is expected to be about $1.6 million this year, is distributed by an independent nine-member Gaming Board headed by Jay Finnigan. But the law relating to table games revenue, which is expected to fill County coffers with $1.2 million this year, is much more lax, and can be distributed for whatever is deemed to be in the County's best interest. There is nothing to prevent any county executive from spreading that money around in a thinly veiled re-election scheme. As a result, Northampton County Council has introduced an ordinance that gives it final say over any project that is to be funded by table games revenue.

When he was Executive, John Stoffa allowed the table games fund to accumulate. Though John Brown dipped into it for a trolley grant to Easton and Council took money for the open space program, this fund has grown to over $3 million.

"I really think Council should look into controlling this money like any other revenue stream and have say over where it goes," Ken Kraft cautioned at a recent committee hearing. Right now, the only person who has that control is Executive John Brown. He has announced an ambitious funding plan called called the Community Investment Partnership Program (CIPP), to promote community and economic development in the County's aging boroughs. DCED Director Diane Donaher told council's Economic Development committee that 80% of the grants and funds awarded will go to what she calls the "aging communities" in contrast to the urban core.


Anonymous said...

If the alternative is to allow our incompetent and failed Executive to spend this revenue in the haphazard way he did last year, by all means council should have the authority to approve how the money is spent.

Anonymous said...

The Sands is in real trouble if casinos spread to North Jersey.

Anonymous said...

IF..IF..IF! SO WHAT! Who cares if the Sands makes money or not? They are a huge corporate entity. Tying human services to gambling profits is just so wrong anyway. I shed no tears for them.

Anonymous said...

Who cares if the Sands makes money or not?

Um, how about the City of Bethlehem, Allentown, the two counties, and BASD. All of whom have their hands in the kitty. It's just a matter of time until there is competition in the Meadowlands and revenues begin to decline. Your property taxes will go and services will be cut when revenues at the Sands diminish.

Anonymous said...

The money should mostly go to Human Services like it was originally intended. It is an impact fee and that is the impact. This should never have been allowed to be set up as a grab bag of goodies by the least administration. IT was a vote grabbing thing then and still is today.

Anonymous said...

A house built on SAND is in big trouble. Relying on a gambling house is just plain stupid. Sin taxes instead of real ideas and solutions. enjoy it while it lasts. Cash cows always end up dead of old age.

Anonymous said...

The Gaming Act is Garbage legislation that discriminates based on municipal and county borders. Granted our three Cities and contiguous communities should benefit from the majority of the local share, however, when the gaming law allows municipalities 40 miles away from Mount Airy Casino to benefit from Monroe County share to the tune of $800k per year, however if your community is in Lehigh County, not contiguous to Bethlehem, you need not apply. As stated in this article, millions of dollars are benefiting many communities in ways not associated with gaming impact. It is what I call "Gamingmandering" where the Commonwealth discriminates based on municipal border.

Time to fix the Gaming law. No gaming expansion in PA unless this law is fixed.