New Jersey considering tax relief for Atlantic City casinos

New Jersey state legislators are looking into two tax relief measures for the nine land-based Atlantic City casinos, which have suffered huge revenue losses due to the coronavirus lockdown.

The two legislation pieces were put together by a group that is headed by New Jersey State Senate President Steve Sweeney. The relief would excuse Atlantic City casinos from paying various licensing fees as long as they remain closed, which they have been since mid-March from a state mandate.

The relief exemptions would extend six months after the lockdown is lifted. However, the casinos must pay any amounts that are deferred within one year. If the measures pass, the annual slot license fees for each machine, which is $500, would be waived until July of 2021. Also, the casino properties would not have to pay taxes for hotel room occupancy for the rest of this year.

The legislation does not mention licensing for online gaming. However, if the measures pass, New Jersey casinos would have their annual gross revenue and investment alternative taxes reduced for a period of two years. Louis Greenwald from the New Jersey General Assembly is in favor of the measures and would also excuse the casinos from paying the $3 daily fee for each of their garage parking spaces.

The most controversial part of the legislation is the proposal that would allow Atlantic City casinos to apply for state-backed loans rather than paying city and county property taxes for the months of May and August. Some local politicians are against this, as the money for those advances would come from the New Jersey Property Tax Relief Fund.

Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo told The Press of Atlantic City that he has concerns for the two proposals since the city’s casinos would be exempt from various taxes and fees that could stimulate community projects. He said, “I’m sure the casino industry – they’re 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.”

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