Bethlehem Press

Sunday, April 30, 2017
Karen Collis, Executive Director of the Gaming Board, ensures that municipalities comply with the terms of grants received. Karen Collis, Executive Director of the Gaming Board, ensures that municipalities comply with the terms of grants received.

Norco Gaming Board is patient about host fees

Monday, February 6, 2017 by Bernie O’Hare Special to the Bethlehem Press in Local News

Late last year, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court struck down the host fee that casinos must pay each year, concluding that it violates the state constitution’s uniformity clause. Though the state legislature was given until Jan. 26 to enact a legislative fix, it has thus far been unable to do so.

Three state senators sought and were granted an extension until May 26. But Justice David Wecht dissented. “This court should not, and I daresay properly cannot, ease the burdens of democracy by suspending the Pennsylvania Constitution at the first sign of political gridlock,” he wrote.

Given the absence of a legislative fix, Northampton County’s Gaming Board has adopted a wait-and-see approach at their Jan. 23 meeting. It will accept no grant applications until the legislature acts. When it does, there’s a chance that all grant applications will have to be made to the Commonwealth Financing Authority, a state board whose members are picked by the governor and legislative leaders.

The gaming board did vote unanimously to keep the same leadership it has had in place the last two years: Jay Finnigan - Chair; Joe Kelly - Vice Chair; John Dally - Secretary; and Tom Nolan - Treasurer. It also welcomed Donna Louder, who has replaced David Willard as Lower Saucon Township’s representative. The remaining members of the Gaming Authority are Gerald Yob (Freemansburg), Dave Heintzelman (Hellertown), Tony Pristash (Northampton), and James Pennington (Lower Nazareth).

Treasurer Tom Nolan reported the Gaming Authority has $105,000 in uncommitted funds and $42,000 in restricted funds at the end of the year.

Northampton County Council liaison Seth Vaughn was absent.