Legislation Introduced to Provide Atlantic City Casinos Interest-Free Loans, Reduce Gaming Taxes and Fees

Posted on: June 3, 2020, 08:28h. 

Last updated on: June 3, 2020, 09:59h.

Relief for Atlantic City casinos could be soon coming by way of reduced tax liabilities, forgoing of certain fees, and available interest-free loans.

Atlantic City casinos tax break
Bills seeking to provide Atlantic City casinos with financial assistance are making their way through the state legislature. (Image: NBC Philadelphia)

Two bills were recently introduced to the New Jersey General Assembly. Both have bipartisan support, and both seek to assist the nine casinos, all of which have been closed since March 16.

Assembly Bill 4032 suspends the requirement that casinos pay hotel occupancy and parking fees to the state through the end of 2020. It would also allow casinos to fully deduct promotional gaming credits issued to customers against their gross gaming revenue (GGR) tax liability.

Assembly Bill 4031 requires the New Jersey Department of the Treasury to make available interest-free loans to casinos that have continued to make their payments in lieu of property taxes to Atlantic City during the public health emergency.

AB4301 and AB4032 passed the Assembly Budget Committee unanimously on Monday. The Senate versions of the two pieces of legislation now reside with the State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee.

Casino Support Largely Unified

Lawmakers from both sides of the political aisle are backing the casino relief.

“Supporting our state and regional economies and employing thousands of workers, the closure of New Jersey’s casinos has no doubt cast a huge shadow on Atlantic City and New Jersey’s tourism industry,” Assembly Majority Leader Louis D. Greenwald (D-Burlington, Camden) said in a release. “The legislation released from today’s committee will work in complement to provide a fiscal path forward for an industry that has been devastated by the effects of this pandemic. A path that will help propel us through recovery, and one that particularly aims to see Atlantic City get back on track.”

State Sen. Chris Brown (R-Atlantic) agrees.

We have to take these initial steps and develop a plan, not a bailout, to restart our local economy as quickly as possible,” Brown said. The Republican also believes Governor Phil Murphy (D) and the state should allow businesses to reopen.

“With 40,000 families out of work and the tourism season upon us, we need to responsibly open up our local economy,” Brown tweeted May 14.   

Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D) is behind the Atlantic Casino relief bills in the upper chamber. Sweeney has also called on the governor to allow the gaming floors to reopen.

Though there seems to be widespread support for the two casino bills, the Press of Atlantic City’s David Danzis reports Assemblymen Vince Mazzeo and John Armato, both Democrats representing Atlantic County, expressed hesitation. They voiced concerns that providing tax breaks and financial assistance for casinos, while the average Atlantic City resident is struggling, might not be in the state’s best interest.

Reopening Dates

Murphy said this week he hopes to have Atlantic City casinos open in time for the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

Commercial casinos remain closed in neighboring Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New York. But Delaware’s three casinos – Dover Downs, Delaware Park, and Harrington – reopened June 1.

Three casinos in western Pennsylvania could also open as soon as this weekend.