Just a few days ago, Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli suggested that the Sands Casino Bethlehem was not acting appropriately by not paying a host community fee. Other casinos in the state have already made agreements to pay their fee with the Sands not ready to pay up the $10 million to the host community. The gambling host fee was ruled unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court in September and lawmakers have until the end of the month to come up with a solution for the tax.

Officials of the Sands have finally spoken out on the letter by Morganelli as well as to critics who believe they are leaving Bethlehem high and dry by waiting for a court ruling before tendering a fee. Ron Reese, a corporate spokesman for the Sands, says that these individuals have a short memory as the casino has helped in a number of ways including investing $1 billion in Bethlehem as well as $1.5 billion to the state and

According to a report in The Morning Call, corporate spokesman for the Sands, Ron Reese, says that these individuals have a short memory as the casino has helped in a number of ways including investing $1 billion in Bethlehem as well as $1.5 billion to the state and the local communities in taxes paid. Reese made the suggestion that people should review the history of the company in Lehigh Valley, which spans a decade before they say the Sands is not being dutiful to the community.

Reese stated further that in no way has the company moved from their commitment to being a good corporate citizen. Anyone who suggests otherwise is being disingenuous. The casino and hotel opened in the middle of the Great Recession and created over 2,500 jobs. The company has been active in the community and remain committed to having the best resort casino located on the East Coast. The Sands is disappointed in any view that would suggest otherwise.

The response from the company comes just one week after a letter was sent by Morganelli to the CEO of the Sands, Mark Juliano, stating that if the casino did act as a good corporate citizen he cannot justify using the limited resources of his office to prosecute petty crimes against the casino, which would include bad checks, theft, etc.  Robert Donchez is the mayor of Bethlehem who stated that the decision by the casino has put the city in a difficult position.

The issue first began back in September when the state Supreme Court decided to remove a $10 million host fee that was paid by casinos in the state due to the tax being the same no matter the size of the casino or the profit. The court ruled that the law was in violation of the state constitution as it left large casinos with a lower tax rate than the smaller ones.

The court order says that the host fee will stop January 26 if lawmakers are unable to fix the law. This could put an end to $140 million a year for the communities including Allentown and Bethlehem. These communities rely on the money to be used for public safety as well as road projects. The money provided by Bethlehem, around $9 million, was enough to fund the employment of 100 police officers.

Morganelli has responded to Reese’s opinion, stating that he does not agree with Reese’s view. Morganelli says he helped to persuade Donchez to vote “yes” to allow the Sands to build in the area around a decade ago.

Morganelli stated that he supported the Sands and believes that they have been a good corporate citizen, but not on the issue at hand. He wanted them to understand how important the money is and how difficult it would be if the problem was not resolved in time by legislation.

 

This article has been updated to include the source of the Sands’ spokesperson’s response.

 

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