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Pennsylvania Gambling Contributions Law Struck Down

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By William Vogeler, Esq. on September 21, 2018 7:00 AM

Gambling has come a long way in Pennsylvania, once known more for Amish settlements than for casinos.

Today, Pennsylvania takes in more tax dollars from casinos than any other state in the country. It's a multi-billion dollar business.

Lawmakers got a little nervous about potential corruption and banned political donations from the gambling industry. A judge said they can't do that -- at least not that much.

Attenuated Connection

Judge Sylvia Rambo struck the donations ban, but left the door open for the Legislature to revise the law.

"The court holds only that the ban in its current form goes much further than necessary to achieve its stated purpose of eliminating corruption and the appearance of corruption," she said.

Rambo said lawmakers could more strictly define who is subject to the ban. In its current form, the law bans contributions of any amount by people with "even an attenuated connection" to the industry."

The law came in when the state legalized casinos in 2004, but the state Supreme Court struck down the ban in 2009. The Legislature restored it months later, and today there are 12 casinos and one under construction in the state.

The Sands and Lady Luck

According to reports, Pennsylvania is second only to Nevada for gross revenue from commercial casinos. With $1.4 billion in the last fiscal year, the state took in the most tax revenue from casino gambling anywhere in the United States.

The latest challenge to the Pennsylvania law was filed by local casino owners. Pasquale Deon owns a stake in the Sands Casino, and Maggie Hardy Magerko's family owns the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort with the Lady Luck Casino.

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