Atlantic City Casino Relief Bill Passes, Would Reduce Resort Taxes and Fees

Posted on: June 16, 2020, 08:03h. 

Last updated on: June 16, 2020, 11:50h.

Atlantic City casinos could soon receive some much-needed relief by way of reduced tax liabilities on their gross gaming revenues (GGR) and the elimination of certain fees.

Atlantic City casinos relief bill New Jersey
New Jersey Senate lawmakers have passed a relief bill tailored to bring back visitors to the Atlantic City Boardwalk and casino resorts. (Image: Wayne Parry/AP)

S2400 passed the New Jersey Senate Monday night by a vote of 28-4. The legislation, introduced by Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Salem), would provide temporary modifications to the tax structure on casino win and suspend gaming and resort fees.

Casinos, for 24 months after they’re allowed to reopen, would see their typical 9.25 percent tax on GGR be reduced to as little as zero. The rate would be dependent on each casino’s monthly win, compared to the same month immediately prior to March 1, 2020.

For example, a casino that reports a 30 percent reduction in GGR in September 2020 compared with September 2019 would be afforded a 50 percent reduction in their tax liability, or an effective rate of 4.62 percent.

Casinos would also be permitted to reduce their overall GGR tax liability by deducting gaming and promotional credits issued to customers. The annual $500 license fee per slot machine would be waived through 2021, and resorts would not be required to pay daily fees on occupied hotel rooms and parking spaces.

The bill would additionally make available interest-free loans to casinos. S2400 now moves to the Assembly, where it’s expected to receive a vote later this week.

Imperative Industry

Not all state lawmakers were on board with the relief bill for Atlantic City casinos. Along with the four “no” votes, another eight senators opted to abstain from voting.

Sen. Richard Codey (D-Essex), who served as the 53rd governor of New Jersey, said S2400 is bad policy and skipped the vote.

The state is as poor as it gets right now. We’re going to give them [casinos] these tax breaks while all our employers throughout the state are suffering and closing their doors,” Codey said.

Supporters say Atlantic City casinos are the backbone of the region’s tourism industry, and therefore worthy of such financial assistance. “The goal of this bill is strictly to get the industry and running,” Sweeney explained.

Sen. Michael Testa (R-Cape May) added, “We need casinos to be dealt with separately, because for 30 years, the state of New Jersey has layered special tax upon special tax on this industry. The taxes that are being waived here are simply special taxes.”

Murphy’s Law

Outdoor dining resumed yesterday across the Garden State.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy (D) says the gaming venues will be part of the final phase of his administration’s reopening plan. But Murphy issued a caution via Twitter,

COVID-19 has put more than 20,000 casino workers in Atlantic City out of work.