New Jersey lawmakers are proposing to introduce financial relief for the casinos of Atlantic City, aiding their recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. The Bill is a renewed attempt to introduce a measure requiring casinos to make payments in lieu of taxes, initially enacted in 2016 following the closure of five of the City’s 12 casinos. At that time, in a declining market environment, the casinos were able to successfully appeal property tax assessments for several years, with a resultant impact on the city’s public spending budget. A Bill known as PILOT (Payment In Lieu of Taxes) was introduced, with the positive impact that it gave both the city and the casinos themselves greater certainty regarding ongoing financial commitments. The quid pro quo was that the casinos were prevented from appealing their tax assessments.
This latest version of the Bill, sponsored by outgoing Senate President Steve Sweeney, exempts internet gambling and online sports betting revenue from calculations on how much the casinos have to pay to the city, its school system and Atlantic County. These exemptions would effectively reduce payments for some casinos, including the Borgata, while imposing higher payments onto others, including Hard Rock.