Atlantic City Casinos Could Save $90m In One Year Due To New Bill
The New Jersey Senate passed a slew of tax breaks, some permanent and some temporary to help the stagnant Atlantic City casino industry, which has been bleeding millions of dollars due to the suspension of all casino operations due to COVID-19 restrictions from March 19.
The Senate passed legislation S2400 to make sure that the casino industry in Atlantic City is able to bounce back quickly.
Bill S2400 decreases the required gaming taxes for one year and will come into effect from the day Atlantic City’s nine casinos reopen. Governor Phil Murphy has publicly stated that he wants casinos to reopen by July 4, but state officials have yet to review industry-wide as well as site-specific health and safety protocols.
Hotel fees and certain licensing fees will also be waived until 2021. A permanent 100% deduction was also enacted for provisional gaming coupons and credits against gross revenues. A $100 million of federal grant money directed toward COVID-19 was also earmarked for the state Economic Development Authority to support small businesses.
The bill was revised on Monday to shorten the amount of time casinos had to pay reduced gaming revenue taxes, as well as to remove their tax breaks on their fees for tourism promotion and parking. The legislation is estimated to save Atlantic City casinos more than $90 million in one year.
Bill Scheduled for Assembly Vote
A bipartisan agreement was forged to pass the bill, although a number of Democrats expressed reservations. A number of state senators objected to both bills, noting that social welfare programs for disabled and senior residents funded by casino tax revenues were being cut. The dissenting senators also warned that giving the casino industry tax breaks during these trying times may anger voters.
The bill was ultimately passed, 28-4, and is scheduled to go to the Assembly on June 18 for a final vote. The sponsors of the bill, Senate President Steve Sweeney and state Sen. Chris Brown argued that the New Jersey casino industry is one of the biggest employers and revenue generators in South Jersey.
According to Sweeney and Brown, the fate of millions of residents is at stake should the casino industry fail. There are an estimated 27,000 jobs tied to the casino industry in Atlantic City.