Four Atlantic City casinos could close without tax assistance

TRENTON – There is a risk that four of the nine Atlantic City casinos will close if changes are not made to a 2016 law recalculating the industry’s tax payments, said Senate Speaker Steve Sweeney.

The proposed changes have now authorized a few Senate committees since the election, including the budget committee on Monday. But the Assembly’s version of the plan has not been picked up and is not listed for consideration when the committee to which the bill was referred meets on Thursday.

Sweeney has not identified which casinos are at risk if the “payment in lieu of tax” law is not updated to exempt income from sports betting and online gaming from the calculation of which. is of. The bill would cut PILOT payments by about a third, or $ 55 million, lowering bills for some casinos while increasing them for others.

“We made mistakes in the PILOT bill,” Sweeney said. “We made mistakes. We have created great cliffs. If we don’t fix them, we run the risk of closing four casinos.

Sweeney said the Atlantic City takeover bill that put in place a state monitor is working as intended, but more changes are needed to avoid job losses.

“Is it better to collect less taxes and put more people to work?” Said Sweeney. “Someone could call me a Republican for that. “

The bill moved forward easily, only Senator Sam Thompson, R-Middlesex, opposed. MP-elect Don Guardian, R-Atlantic, a former mayor of Atlantic City, also spoke out against the bill, saying any change midway through the 10-year PILOT plan shifts the tax burden onto others. Atlantic County residents.

“With casinos paying less, everyone will pay more,” Guardian said.

In all, three Atlantic City related bills moved forward. One of them would levy an additional surcharge of $ 3 per night on all stays in hotel-casinos, with the revenues going to the city’s public safety services.

The state takeover has hurt collective bargaining in Atlantic City, said State Police Charitable Association chairman Patrick Colligan, who said further cuts were imposed in more than a 20% pay cut that the local union had negotiated.

“As a result, my members earn an average of $ 12,000 less and work with significantly fewer agents than in 2012,” said Colligan.

Sue Altman, executive director of the New Jersey Working Families Alliance, asked why the money would be earmarked only for police and firefighters’ budgets, at a time when she said some of their responsibilities might need to be redirected to mental health or social service agencies. .

“And the direction we should all be taking is not towards bigger police services, but perhaps towards smaller police services with more focused goals and larger budgets in other areas of social service. “Altman said.

Sweeney and other lawmakers have said crime is a problem in Atlantic City and more should be done to make visitors safer.

Michael Symons is the State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. Contact him at [email protected].

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