Rivers Casino wants the state's highest court to abolish a gambling tax it pays to Pittsburgh and order that millions of dollars it has paid through the levy be returned.
A portion of that is the pot of money city officials are fighting to get from a state-appointed financial overseer.
Attorneys for the casino on Pittsburgh's North Shore claim the municipal portion of the local share tax in the state's Gaming Act is unconstitutional because it applies different tax rates to casinos and doesn't tax all casinos equally in terms of revenue from slot machines that goes to municipalities.
The lawsuit asserts that the way the tax is applied for municipal governments runs afoul of the U. Constitution's equal protection rule, as well as the state constitution's uniformity clause by imposing two different tax rates — 2 percent of annual gross slot machine revenue if it exceeds $500 million in a year, or $10 million if gross revenues are less than that $500 million threshold.
None of the state's 12 operating casinos has eclipsed $500 million in gross slots revenue.
Holding Acquisition Co., Rivers' parent organization, sued the state Department of Revenue and revenue Secretary Eileen Mc Nulty on June 27 in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's eastern district office in Philadelphia.
Rivers Casino said in a statement that it filed a “protective application” with the court in response to a similar case mounted in April 2015 by Mount Airy Casino Resort in Mt.
Pocono and more recently by Harrah's Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack in Chester.
Both challenged the constitutionality of the same tax issue before the state Supreme Court.
“The purpose of our application is to ensure that Rivers Casino is not treated differently …
Than other casinos,” the Rivers' statement ended.
“The filing is not expected to have any impact on the merits or the outcome of the Supreme Court's decision.” Mayor Bill Peduto said the city opposes the casino's stance.