Money currently goes toward promoting tourism in the city

Measure Would Shift Some Sports Betting Revenue To AC Property Tax Relief

The 1.25% supplemental tax now used to promote tourism is at issue in Senate bill
property taxes

Current New Jersey state law imposes an 8.5% tax on sports betting revenue earned at Atlantic City casino sportsbooks, plus a 1.25% supplemental tax that goes to a state agency that promotes Atlantic City tourism.

But city Mayor Marty Small Sr. told the Senate’s State Government, Wagering, Tourism, and Historic Preservation Committee Thursday that those supplemental tax dollars should provide property tax relief for city residents instead, and it responded. A bill to make that change passed on a partisan 3-2 vote with Democratic senators’ support. It would need approval of the full Senate and Assembly before it could head to Gov. Phil Murphy’s desk.

“We can take everyone in this room — which there are about 25 people — and we can all get in our cars and drive down to Atlantic City, so that’s 25 cars,” Small told the committee. “Follow me where I’m going. We can go check in at Hard Rock [casino]. Once we park our cars, that’s parking tax.

“We go to try to check into our room, it isn’t ready, so we go all to the bar and buy a drink. That’s luxury tax. Our room is ready now, we check into our room, that’s the room tax. We go to a late-night concert, that’s luxury tax again,” Small continued. “And we’re all feeling lucky — all 25 of us — so we go to the sports gambling parlor at Hard Rock and we press our luck. When we make a sports bet, that’s sports betting tax. We do same thing, all 25 of us, for five nights.

“Guess what the residents of Atlantic City get from all of those things? Zero. How is that humanly possible? We are a tourism city, but the residents of Atlantic City don’t benefit from tourism. Our residents deserve to get this money.”

Polistina: Marketing money needed more than ever

First-year Republican Sen. Vincent Polistina, who represents Atlantic City as part of his district, countered that this is the worst possible time to divert marketing resources from the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority.

Polistina noted New York state may issue up to three casino licenses in the New York City metropolitan area by the end of 2022. If Yonkers Raceway and Aqueduct horse racing tracks succeed in upgrading from their current “racino” status — in which they have thousands of slot machines but no live-dealer table games or sports betting — that impact would be felt by Atlantic City next year.

That makes marketing to tourists — as well as improving long-blighted sectors of the city — more urgent than ever, he suggested.

Also, a bill signed into law in December by Murphy already provides property tax relief for city residents, Polistina said.

But Sen. Troy Singleton, a Democrat, said that the bill does something that has been on the front of minds for both Democratic and Republican lawmakers in recent months.

“This is literally turning money back to taxpayers for property tax relief,” said Singleton , who estimated that the amount in question was roughly $2.5 million. “Here’s an opportunity to do that.”

Photo: Shutterstock


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