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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Monday, December 28, 2015

NorCo Gaming Board Prepares for 2016

Northampton County's nine-member Gaming Board met on December 14 to gear up for next year's round of grants. It awarded $1.66 million this year in slots machine money from the Sands Casino in Bethlehem, and can be expected to do the same next year. Northampton County also receives about $1.2 million in table games revenue from the Sands, but that money is controlled by County Council. Table games revenue can be spent on anything considered in the "best interest" of the County, but with slots revenue, priority must be given to requests dealing with the impact created by gambling. In addition , these impact grant requests are limited to Bethlehem and the communities surrounding the Christmas City. Those are Freemansburg, Hellertown, Lower Saucon Bethlehem Township and Hanover Township.

If there is money left over after impact grants are awarded, the Gaming Board may consider grant requests from other municipalities. Last year, the slots revenue was only enough for impact grants.

Executive Director Karen Collis reported that grant applications will be accepted, starting on January 6.

She indicated there are currently 17 active grants in process. She also makes periodic compliance visits to determine the money is being spent according to the terms of the request. She has found no issues.

Treasurer Tom Nolan indicated that the authority is sitting on $390,000 as of the end of November, but $107,476 is set aside to pay for grants that have been awarded.

The Gaming Board is made up of nine members: Joe Kelly (Bethlehem), Tom Nolan (Bethlehem Tp), Gerald Yob (Freemansburg), Jay Finnigan (Hanover, Chair), Dave Heintzelman (Hellertown), Dave Willard (Lower Saucon), Tony Pristash (Northampton), John Dally (Pen Argyl) and James Pennington (Lower Nazareth).

Executive John Brown attempted to replace Prostash earlier this year, but was rebuffed by Council and was forced to withdraw his nominee.

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