Headed to Gov. Phil Murphy

Atlantic City casinos: tax relief on sports betting, other two related bills pass Legislature

United States
Reading time 2:38 min

A series of bills related to Atlantic City’s gaming industry passed Legislature on its final day on Monday, and are now headed to Gov. Phil Murphy’s desk for his signature, local media reports.

The legislations seek to allow surcharges on casino hotel rooms to fund public safety, to provide $2 million to the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority for the NAACP national convention in July, and to allow casinos to deduct the costs of sports betting giveaways from taxable revenues, The Press of Atlantic City reports.

A4002 bill passed both houses: the legislation seeks to give casinos and racetracks in New Jersey a break on sports gaming taxes. It was amended after a conditional veto by Gov. Murphy to allow venues to deduct their costs of promotional giveaways from their sports revenues for the purpose of taxation, but only for non-internet sports gaming.

The state Senate, in a 38-1 voting, accepted the terms of Murphy’s conditional veto of the bill, issued in November. Deduction on promotional gaming credit (PGC) was first established in 2008 to exempt the promotions from the state’s 8% tax on gambling winnings. It was eventually expanded to include credits related to iGaming and brick-and-mortar sportsbooks.

“Given the record performance of online sports wagering operations and the tenuous connection between online wagering and tourism and local economic growth, I am suggesting revisions to the bill to apply the PGC deduction only to the gross revenue tax on non-Internet sports pool operations, with the hope that the expansion of PGCs will attract new visitors,” Gov. Murphy said.

Bills are now headed to Gov. Phil Murphy's desk for signature

In addition, bill A6257/S4311 calls for a $2 per night fee to be assessed on every casino hotel room. Funds would then be collected by the state and passed along to the host city: in the case of New Jersey, only Atlantic City qualifies.

The surcharges on casino hotel rooms would be used to fund public safety measures. The legislation passed the Assembly in a 64-13 voting, with two abstentions, and passed the Senate in a 26-12 voting.

Meanwhile, bill A6256/S4218, co-sponsored by Assemblyman Antwan McClellan, R-Cape May, Cumberland, Atlantic, passed the Senate in December in its Senate version S4218, and was substituted for A6256 on Monday.

The legislation seeks to appropriate $2 million from the state Department of Community Affairs to the Casino Reinvestment & Development Authority to cover costs of Atlantic City hosting the national NAACP convention in July. It has been met with controversy, according to the previously cited news source, and passed the Assembly 49 to 24, with four abstentions.

“There are so many better things we could do with $2 million in the state of New Jersey than to pay for a party for an organization,” said Assemblyman Brian Bergen, R-Morris, Somerset. “It’s insulting to waste this much money. Is there no sanity check in the Democratic caucus?”

In December, Gov. Murphy signed into law key legislation set to save the Atlantic City casino industry millions of dollars in taxes. The casino PILOT bill seeks to help venues recover from the pandemic by reducing increases in payments to the state by excluding both iGaming and sports wagering from calculations on how much they pay in lieu of taxes.

The measure prompted Atlantic County to file a lawsuit against the state and the governor. According to estimates by the state Office of Legislative Services, the county would lose about $4 million a year under the new law, although Atlantic County claims annual losses could range between $5 million to $7 million.

Last Thursday, a judge urged New Jersey to decide whether to mediate or litigate the lawsuit, ordering the state to let him know by January 13 whether it is “agreeable to proceed with mediation.” Superior Court Judge Joseph Marczyk has stated he wants the parties to go into mediation.