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Pennsylvania Supreme Court strikes down casino welfare law

Late last week the Pennsylvania Supreme Court delivered some bad news for the Keystone State’s poorest performing casinos when they struck down a 2017 gambling expansion law. From here on out, the court said, under-performing gambling halls can no longer rely on their more successful neighbors for a helping hand when it comes to marketing and advertising.
When Pennsylvania lawmakers passed the 2017 act expanding the state’s gambling market to include online casinos and sports betting apps, it also authorized the creation of the Casino Marketing and Capital Development Account. This fund was paid for by a .05 percent tax on slot revenue from all the state’s casinos.
What no one seemed to realize at the time, at what the state’s top casinos – including the Sands – realized right away, was that money from the fund would be given to the state’s poorest performing casinos to use for capital improvements and marketing.
Not surprisingly, the Sands immediately challenged this concept in court. Big business likes corporate welfare, but they generally prefer that cash come from common taxpayers and not their own revenue streams. The case quickly worked its way through the Pennsylvania court system until it hit the state’s Supreme Court, where the big casinos hit pay dirt.
According to, Supreme Court Justice Thomas Saylor derided the law saying, “Act 42 establishes a system specifically designed so that the taxpayers who pay the least into the CMDC Account are the most likely to receive a mandatory distribution from that account (and the less they pay, the more they receive), and vice versa.”
In short, robbing from the rich to pay the poor does compute in the casino world.
The Sands, and other casinos that paid into the now defunct fund, can expect a refund from the state.