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Working On Pennsylvania Compromise

Published: October 21, 2009 2:23 pm ET

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Legislators in Pennsylvania, working toward compromise on the table games at racinos and casinos issue, have solved half of the problem. They are in accord on a $15 million licensing fee, but still are at odds over the tax rate on gross revenues.

Racino operators want a rate no higher than 12%. They also had wanted a license fee of $10 million, but clearly have lost that part of their want list.

The tax rate is more contentious. The senate bill sets a rate of 14%, 12% going to the state’s general fund and 1% for counties and municipalities. Governor Ed Rendell, on hand for yesterday’s sessions, prefers 16%. Others in the debate are holding out for figures between 18% and 34%, numbers which track operators say would preclude them from adding the games because they are labour intensive.

The governor asked for, but did not receive, assurances of a compromise by Friday of this week. House leaders said they still were deliberating, and would make no promises as to when they would agree.

A house vote is scheduled for November 9, and the speaker, Keith McCall, said the house would not be called back “until we have an agreement on all aspects” of the issue. Those aspects include whether to use tax revenue from the games for the general fund permanently, or shift it to property tax relief after three years.

(Harness Tracks of America)


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