Philadelphia wage tax reductions at risk with casino license?

In recent years, Philadelphia’s wage tax rates were cut due largely to gaming revenue generated by casinos in other parts of the state.  The change reduced wage tax collections by about seven percent.  But that could change if a second casino is not built in the city.When casino gambling came to Pennsylvania, most of the revenues were supposed to go to tax reduction–the wage tax in Philadelphia, property taxes everywhere else. But Philadelphia’s gambling projects didn’t set up shop quickly. One, Sugarhouse, finally opened last year but the Foxwoods casino is in legal limbo.

The license could be offered to the highest bidder, in Philadelphia or somewhere else.

Philadelphia area politicians say a second casino could bring much-needed jobs.But Paul Boni, from the group “Stop Predatory Gambling,” says the math isn’t simple when it comes to job creation by casinos.

“The more you have people who are addicted, spending their money in the casino, they’re not spending money in stores, restaurants, movie theaters, bowling alleys, and all the rest,” Said Boni.  “As the money is not spent in all those places, all those other places layoff employees.”

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Representative Rosita Youngblood says Philadelphia stands to lose more than just jobs if the city does not keep the second license.”Some members of the General Assembly might want to the city to pay back some of the revenue they have received from having a license for two facilities,” said Youngblood.  “It is not a far-fetched theory.  There has been legislation introduced in the past that would strip Philadelphia of its gaming revenue until both casinos were built and operational.”The city’s Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development has told state lawmakers, the city would like to help the state find an appropriate spot for the casino in Philadelphia.  

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