The rewards of legalized sports betting in Pennsylvania could soon find a new destination.
A proposed amendment to Title 4 (Amusements) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes aims to use taxed revenue from PA sports betting to “provide property tax relief” for Keystone State residents.
Posted Jan. 3 and sponsored by Rep. Tina M. Davis, House Bill 498 heads to the state House of Representatives for review.
PA sports betting to help property tax relief
Currently, and as laid out in Act 42 of Pennsylvania’s 2017 gambling expansion law, the state’s still-new industry takes on a lofty 36 percent tax on PA sports betting revenue.
Of that total, 34 percent of daily gross wagering revenue goes into the state’s General Fund. Municipalities hosting sports betting operations receive the remaining 2 percent, called a “local share assessment.”
Davis proposed that the 34 percent bulk be rerouted to the self-explanatory Property Tax Relief Fund. That additional 2 percent, Davis wrote, will “remain intact and unchanged.”
From Davis’ proposal:
“Gaming was authorized in Pennsylvania with the intent to provide property tax relief for hardworking Pennsylvanians, so expansions to gaming should go toward increasing property tax relief for our constituents.”
Tax relief supposedly already exists
In 2006, state lawmakers established the Taxpayer Relief Act that paved the way for the Property Tax Relief Fund.
This came two years after Pennsylvania legalized casino gambling. At the time, in 2004, legislators emphasized that taxed revenue from gaming would primarily go toward property tax relief. Indeed, revenue from slots and table games benefit the fund.
In 2017, Pennsylvania voters approved a constitutional amendment that permitted legislation to potentially exempt homeowners from paying property taxes at all. That would only occur, however, taxing authorities (counties, school districts, municipalities) discovered other sources of revenue to replace property taxes.
It appears lawmakers have not fond those alternative revenue streams yet though. Especially considering cities such as Philadelphia have recently issued new assessments to homeowners that would result in substantial tax hikes.
State Rep. proposes alternative revenue stream
Increased property taxes goes unnoticed by Davis, who opened her memo to the House of Representatives by voicing her concern.
“Pennsylvania homeowners continue to face rising property taxes. Seniors on fixed incomes are especially challenged by the issue, particularly those who struggle to pay for food and medications and still be able to afford to keep their homes. Given this difficult and challenging situation, it is incumbent upon us as concerned public officials to do everything we can to help provide much-needed property tax relief to our citizens.”
Davis continued, noting that this proposed statute would redirect PA sports betting revenue from the General Fund to the Property Tax Relief Fund.
Through December, during which time three sportsbooks accepted legal wagers, the Keystone State has collected $905,595 in tax dollars, including $722,356 in December alone. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board should be releasing revenue figures from January within the next week.