In today’s economy, everyone is struggling. Tens of millions of people are currently not working due to state stay at home orders from the coronavirus outbreak. People are filing for unemployment and receiving funds from the federal government, but it is not enough. As the world has come to a standstill, many people are wondering how they will pay rent, mortgages, insurance, light bills, buy food and other expenses.
In the state of Pennsylvania, one senator is trying to ease the strain by moving sports gambling taxes from one area to one that will be more beneficial to residents. Senator Doug Mastriano introduced Senate Bill 1117 this week, a measure that would temporarily shift sports betting taxes from the general fund to instead help pay property taxes for residents.
The proposal was sent to committee in a sector that typically reviews gambling issues. The senator is currently looking for co-sponsors to receive support in the effort. The bill has no date for a hearing to be considered.
On his website, Mastriano commented that homeowners in the state already have high property taxes to pay. When adding in the coronavirus pandemic, it only makes things worse. The mandated shutdown has resulted in people being out of work and residents are concerned about paying property taxes. With the bill, relief would be provided, even if just temporarily.
This is not the first time a bill was proposed to help pay property taxes in the state via sports betting taxes. Representative Tina Davis introduced a bill in January of 2019 but the measure was unable to gain any headway.
Original Intention Was to Help with Property Taxes
In his proposal, Mastriano has pointed out that the original intention of gaming legislation that was approved way back in 2004 was to provide property tax help in the state. It was not to fund the state government.
Currently, sports betting revenues are low due to limitations from the virus restrictions. However, this will change once casinos are up and running. If revenues can be allocated towards property tax relief, it would relieve some strain that homeowners are currently feeling while being out of work.
The Senator has organized a rally titled ReOpen PA and wants to se the state’s businesses reopen if they will follow the guidelines provided by the CDC. The senator called every business and every job essential.
March was a struggle for sports betting in Pennsylvania as casinos shutdown. Reports showed that $131.3 million was wagered last month. This was far below the $329 million that was wagered the month previous. Online and retail sports betting provided $2.3 million for Pennsylvania in March. This would be the amount that goes towards property tax relief if the bill by Mastriano is approved.
Governor Tom Wolf is cautious when it comes to reopening areas of the state. If the state is able to meet certain requirements, the federal government guidelines would dictate that the state could being the phase process which would include the reopening of gambling venues.
If the bill is passed into law, then revenues could begin to roll in shortly which would provide essential help for residents of the state who are homeowners. We shall see in the coming days if the senator is able to gain any ground, obtain supporters and move forward with his proposal.