A lawsuit was filed by Rivers Casino in Pittsburg challenging their yearly tax payment based on revenues from slot machine gaming just a few weeks ago and the suit has now been dropped. Late this afternoon, the casino announced the complaint has been withdrawn with no further comment on the matter.
The lawsuit was filed on June 27th within the Pennsylvania Supreme Court against the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue in an attempt to fight the local share tax based on the municipal portion. A spokesman for the casino, Jack Horner, did not speak any further on the matter, just to say that the lawsuit had been withdrawn.
The casino owner, Holdings Acquisition Co., filed the lawsuit, maintaining that the municipal portion of the local share tax was in violation of the clauses of uniformity and equal protection within the constitution of the state as well as the United States. The portion of tax was enacted when slot gambling was first legalized in 2004, with the company calling the tax an unequal rate on slot machine licensees.
Almost all casinos in the state are required by law to pay more than 2% of their gross terminal revenue on slot machine games or a rate of $10 million a year to the host municipality. The only venues exempt from this law are the resort destinations of Valley Forge and Nemacolin as well as casinos in Philadelphia.
2% of revenues is paid when the total amount is over $500 million or a $10 million fee if below this marker. Since the law was enacted in 2004, no casino has pushed past the $500 million marker. This means all casinos have paid $10 million in fees annually. The money paid was used by Pittsburgh to build up the pension fund. With the lawsuit, the casino was hoping to earn a refund for payments made to the city which would equal around $65 million.
When the lawsuit was filed, the city of Pittsburg asked the court to dismiss, citing that the potential for the refund would have a dramatic and immediate effect on the financial health of the city. With the suit dropped, similar lawsuits remain pending by the Harrah’s Philadelphia venue as well as Mount Airy Casino.