Gaming Authority Begins Task of Spreading Online Gambling Tax Revenue Around Delaware County

Written By Kevin Shelly on October 25, 2021

The Delaware County Interactive Gaming Revenue Authority is getting its feet under it.

The fledgling authority’s job is to pump monies from online gaming tax revenue into community non-profits.

The authority exists because Delaware County hosts Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino and Racetrack, which is in Delco’s largest city, Chester. Online, Harrah’s hosts Caesars Online Casino as well as WSOP.com for online poker and Caesars Sportsbook.

Tax revenue funds from interactive gaming (2% for online table games, poker, and sports betting; 7% for online slots) flow to the county and are then passed on to the authority. Similar authorities exist in other PA host counties, such as Dauphin and Erie. The authorities answer to the state’s Commonwealth Financing Authority.

Delco Authority spreads gaming revenue around county of more than 567,000

Just last month, the Delco authority began giving away grant money for the first time. The authority sent out $90,000 to 15 vetted community organizations around the county in the form of $5,000 checks.

And the authority plans to soon send out $50,000 more to assist volunteer emergency responders throughout the exurban communities southwest of Philadelphia, which ranges from densely populated municipalities to semi-rural communities.

Babysteps still to come for interactive gaming revenue authority

The organization has hired an auditor and a lawyer, but COVID-19 slowed them down, forcing meetings to virtual presentations until recently, cutting down public awareness and input.

They have no staff, though they now finally have email: [email protected]. Members of the authority are themselves checking the email feed.

This month, they met in person, the second live meeting in a row, though their meetings are both live-streamed and cataloged on YouTube.

For now, they are meeting monthly, but they may shift to quarterly next year. The next meeting is on Nov. 18 at 2 p.m. at the county building in Media, the county seat.

Authority is little known and still without a website

The authority is quite low-profile, and while meetings are open, traditionally the public has not shown up. Their online meetings attract just a handful of viewers.

Meanwhile, the cumbersomely known DCIGRA still lacks even a website. They may choose a vendor to build and administer one in November. An initial request for proposals for the website build yielded many proposals which were way too pricey, according to one member.

The authority pared back. Now they are looking at three viable offers, topping out at an $8,500 expenditure.

Their annual budget is about $200,000 and the goal is to direct as much as possible to community non-profits.

Down a member already

They are already down a member. Doreen Storey of Chester recently sold her home and relocated, but then she was a Steelers fan living in Eagles’ territory.

The authority is awaiting a new appointment from the county’s governing body.

The authority currently has four members:

  • Paul Johnson of Prospect Park: Marketing professor at Montgomery County Community College. Formerly a marketing executive for Xerox. Political candidate. Baseball coach. He is the chairman.
  • Ronald Evans of Media: Retired. He is the secretary.
  • Stefan Roots of Chester: Engineer. Community blogger focused on Chester since 2006. Political candidate. He is the treasurer.
  • Frances Sheehan of Swarthmore: President of Delaware County’s largest philanthropy, The Foundation for Delaware County.

Chairman Johnson explains what’s next for the DCIGRA

Johnson, who as chairman runs the meetings, spoke to PlayPennsylvania about his background, the authority’s brief history, and their near-term goal.

He said he volunteered for the post because he felt challenged by “a new position building this up” and getting much-needed assets into the hands of community organizations.

Aside from creating a website and getting the word out more broadly, he said the next big thing for the group is to solicit applications from Delco’s volunteer first responders.

The goal is to distribute $50,000 to support such groups, he said.

Johnson has never been to Harrah’s, and while he’s a sports fan, he doesn’t wager on sports, and he takes no position on gambling – other than being grateful for the flow of revenue.

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Kevin Shelly

Kevin C. Shelly is an award-winning career journalist who has spent most of his career in South Jersey. He's the former assistant city editor of The Press of Atlantic City, where he covered the casino industry and Atlantic City government as a reporter. He was also an investigative, narrative enterprise, and features reporter for Gannett’s Courier-Post.

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