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DA Warns It Won’t Pursue Sands Thieves if Casino Does Not Get Act Together

Written by:
Guest
Published on:
Dec/28/2016

The Northampton County District Attorney, John Morganelli, has warned the Sands Bethlehem Casino in Eastern Pennsylvania that it will not go after those individuals alleged to be stealing from the establishment unless Sands honors a $10 million agreement with local government officials.

The agreement in question requires state casinos to pay out $10 million to host communities.

Sands Bethlehem routinely files reports alleging customers have attempted to pay the property using bad checks or pocket poker chips illegally through “sleight of hand” activities.

"I would not in good conscience be able to justify the use of my limited resources to help a profitable billion-dollar corporation while the Sands maintains the position they are an island unto themselves," Morganelli said in a news release issued this week.

From the Morning Call of Allentown:

When community leaders agreed to bring the Sands to Bethlehem, the deal guaranteed millions of dollars for the region in the form of host fees. Part of that came from a 2 percent fee on slot machine revenue split among Allentown, Bethlehem and Lehigh and Northampton counties. If that amount fell short of $10 million, the casino would pay up to that figure at the end of the year.

This fall, Mount Airy Casino in Monroe County successfully challenged the fee, arguing it violates the tax uniformity clause in the state constitution. Legislators have yet to amend the host fee law, but many casinos have said they will honor the original law.

The court-ordered host fee law remains in effect until next month to give lawmakers a chance to come up with a plan for affected communities. However, casinos don't owe the $10 million fee until April, and state Sen. Pat Browne, R-Lehigh, said Tuesday he anticipates a new law by March 31.

Other area DA’s have suggested there will be boundaries for which prosecutors have some discretion over which cases they can bring forward. 

The Morning Call added:

Real philosophical debate exists over which side of the justice system people accused of nonviolent financial crimes should go through. While many in law enforcement may be inclined to turn to criminal court, district attorneys have to decide if all these cases should be prosecuted with taxpayer money, he said.

- Gilbert Horowitz, Gambling911.com

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