In New Jersey and state legislators are reportedly considering a pair of measures that would provide temporary tax relief to the nine casinos in Atlantic City as they endeavor to weather the ongoing coronavirus-related lockdown.
According to a Tuesday report from The Press of Atlantic City newspaper, the two pieces of legislation were prepared by a group led by New Jersey State Senate President Steve Sweeney and would involve local casinos being excused from a variety of licensing fees for the duration of their state-mandated closures as a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic.
The newspaper reported that the measures also call for these exemptions to stretch for six months after the coronavirus-linked lockdown is lifted but require involved venues to re-pay any deferred amounts within a year. If passed, the legislation would moreover see the annual $500 license fee for individual slot machines waived until July of next year and discharge New Jersey venues from having to pay hotel room occupancy taxes for the remainder of 2020.
The Press of Atlantic City reported that the legislation does not mention online gaming licensing fees or duties but that its passage would see land-based casinos have their annual gross revenue and investment alternative taxes, which currently equate to 9.25% of any takings, reduced for the next two years.
The newspaper reported that the proposed measures, which are additionally being supported by Louis Greenwald from the New Jersey General Assembly, would furthermore involve local casinos being excused from the $3 daily tax they are required to hand over for every parking space in their garages.
However, the most controversial part of the two pieces of legislation would reportedly allow casinos in Atlantic City to apply for state-backed loans in lieu of paying city and county property taxes for May and August. This particular proposal has purportedly drawn the ire of many local politicians including John Armato and Vince Mazzeo (pictured) from the New Jersey General Assembly as the funds for these advances would come from the state’s Property Tax Relief Fund.
The Press of Atlantic City reported that this proposal calls for casinos to be given up to three years to fully re-pay these loans without interest before being charged a 10% premium. Any venue that goes beyond a subsequent 60-day deadline could purportedly have their gambling license revoked while a further 120-day delay would result in the state placing such offenders under the guidance of a conservator.
Finally, Mazzeo reportedly told the newspaper that he is similarly concerned that the two proposals would see casinos in Atlantic City excused from having to pay a variety of other fees and taxes that are used to support local community projects such as the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority and its bond payments for the Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall and Atlantic City Convention Center.
Mazzeo reportedly told The Press of Atlantic City…
“I’m sure that the casino industry is going to need help but we have some questions. If you give loans out of the Property Tax Relief Fund, what does that do to the Senior Freeze and Homestead Rebate programs, which regular folks depend on to reduce property taxes. We have to take a step back and make sure folks are really helping, not hurting, residents of Atlantic County.”