Atlantic City Casinos Cheer Property Tax Cut, Claim It Protects Jobs, Provides Stability

Posted on: December 21, 2021, 08:16h. 

Last updated on: December 21, 2021, 11:03h.

Atlantic City casinos won big yesterday to the tune of around $55 million. That’s after lawmakers in New Jersey passed a measure that will greatly reduce the nine resorts’ property tax bill for 2022 and beyond.

Atlantic City casinos PILOT bill New Jersey
Protestors gather outside the New Jersey Statehouse on December 20 to rally against a vaccination or negative test mandate required for entry into the capital building. Inside, lawmakers approved of reducing the amount of property tax Atlantic City casinos will pay next year. (Image: New Jersey Monitor)

The New Jersey Senate and Assembly both passed S4007 on Monday. The statute, with Gov. Phil Murphy’s (D) signature, will amend the payment-in-lieu-of-tax (PILOT) program that dictates the amount of property taxes the casinos pay each year.

S4007 will remove gross gaming revenue (GGR) generated online from the calculation used on how much property taxes the casinos pay in the following year. For 2022, the PILOT switch will slash the sum from $165 million to $110 million. The ruling covers slot machines, table games, poker, and sports betting.

The bill is state Senate President Stephen Sweeney’s (D) legislative swan song, as the longtime Trenton political power player was upset in November by a Republican newcomer.

“I hope the governor signs it as quickly as possible,” Sweeney said of his S4007 bill. Murphy has hinted that he will sign the statute once it reaches his desk.

Industry Explains Savings

Sweeney opined prior to the legislature vote that as many as four Atlantic City casinos might close without substantial cuts to the PILOT program. Though he provided no insight into those claims, the casinos say the $55 million in savings next year will steady the casino town. An estimated $30 million to $65 million each year through the 2026 scheduled PILOT expiration will be an extra bonus.

The Casino Association of New Jersey (CANJ) says the PILOT savings will protect “thousands of jobs” and “provide certainty and stability” to the market.

Atlantic County is set to receive fewer property tax dollars under the new PILOT should Murphy ratify the law. The casino industry organization says escalating iGaming revenue will help bridge the tax loss for Atlantic City. Casinos are subject to a 2.5 percent tax on their iGaming GGR, and that money goes to the city.

CANJ also pointed to the New Jersey Legislature passing a separate bill that increases the nightly tax on casino hotel rooms by $3. Those funds, again pending Murphy’s final approval, are to be set aside for public safety initiatives in the city.

The Casino Association concluded that the bills will “improve Atlantic City’s infrastructure and create a safer community for visitors and residents.”

County Explains Frustration

Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson says the state and Atlantic City casinos are failing to uphold the 2016 PILOT terms both sides agreed upon. And he won’t be sitting idle as officials in Trenton seek to strip the county of millions of tax dollars annually.

Levinson has informed Murphy that Atlantic County will file a lawsuit against the state should he sign the new PILOT bill.

“I would prefer not to have to take that course of action, but am prepared to do whatever is necessary to protect the best interests of ALL Atlantic County taxpayers,” Levinson stated.