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Rivers Casino drops lawsuit over gambling tax paid to Pittsburgh

Jason Cato
PTRUBER02032516
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
Rivers Casino on Pittsburgh's North Shore.

Rivers Casino on Friday dropped a lawsuit it filed against the state last month claiming a gambling tax it pays to Pittsburgh is unconstitutional.

A spokesman did not offer an explanation for why the North Shore casino dropped its suit against the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue. Rivers was attempting to block the department from collecting the tax established by lawmakers when they legalized gambling in 2004.

Rivers attorneys claimed the municipal portion of the local share tax in the state’s Gaming Act unlawfully applies different tax rates to Pennsylvania’s 12 operating casinos and doesn’t tax all casinos equally in terms of revenue from slot machines that goes to municipalities.

Similar lawsuits are pending by Mount Airy and Harrah’s Philadelphia casinos.

For fiscal year 2015-16, Rivers earned $272 million in slots revenues, records show.

Rivers annually pays a local-share assessment to the city of 2 percent of slots revenues or $10 million, whichever is greater. It has paid $65 million to Pittsburgh since opening in 2009.

In addition to getting the tax abolished, Rivers’ parent company, Holding Acquisition Co., wanted a refund on some of the money it has paid.

Pittsburgh planned to join the state in defending the claim and considered a counter-lawsuit against Rivers.

“We are pleased that the Rivers Casino changed course and withdrew this erroneous lawsuit,” said Kevin Acklin, Mayor Bill Peduto’s chief of staff. “We remain vigilant to defend the commitments made by the casino to the residents of our city.”

Jason Cato is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7936 or [email protected].

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