Pennsylvania Bill Would Split Hollywood Host Fee

Pennsylvania Rep. Russ Diamond, who represents Lebanon County, wants the annual host fee paid by Hollywood Casino to Dauphin County to be split with his district.

As Pennsylvania lawmakers grapple with creating a replacement to the casino host fee declared unconstitutional last September by the state Supreme Court, a lawmaker representing the district in which a portion of Hollywood Casino sits is sponsoring legislation to secure half of the casino’s host fee, or local share assessment (LSA).

Hollywood Casino straddles Dauphin and Lebanon Counties. The casino’s LSA currently goes to Dauphin County. Rep. Russ Diamond, who represents Lebanon County, has filed a bill that would grant 50 percent of Hollywood Casino’s LSA to Lebanon.

“The Pennsylvania Gaming Act allocates LSA funds to the host county of a particular casino to help offset the impact it has on the community,” said Diamond in a press release. “A portion of the Hollywood Casino property is technically within the boundary of Lebanon County, and our emergency and human services have indeed been impacted. It’s only fair that some of the proceeds be assigned to our county.”

Diamond’s press release cited the examples of the Sands Casino and Resort in Bethlehem, Northampton County, which shares proceeds with neighboring Lehigh County, and the Mt. Airy Casino Resort in Mt. Pocono, which shares with Monroe and adjacent counties.

According to a report in the Lebanon Daily Times, Dauphin County has routinely received in excess of $13 million annually in LSA proceeds since Hollywood Casino first opened. Casinos have paid $10 million annually in host fees under the gaming law provision that was struck down in the courts. Under the gaming law, counties receive an additional cut from slot revenues.

“The cost of running Lebanon County increases each year, and we represent a significant portion of the casino’s affected area,” said Diamond, who serves on the House Gaming Oversight Committee. “Unfortunately, we’ve been blocked from receiving the appropriate offsetting benefits by the peculiarities of the Gaming Act’s language. The possibility of some aid coming from an entity located here would be helpful to the Lebanon County budget. I am hopeful my legislation gets favorable consideration.”

The measure, HB 633, will likely be assigned to the Gaming Oversight Committee.