Ocean Casino Julydge

The state Legislature is considering several relief bills for Atlantic City's casino industry following a mandatory shutdown of gambling parlors because of the coronavirus.

The state Assembly Appropriations Committee will consider two pieces of legislation Thursday designed to provide relief to Atlantic City’s casino industry.

One of the two bills, A4032/S2400, passed by the state Senate in June — albeit with some significant amendments to the introduced draft — provides both temporary and permanent changes to casino taxes and fees. The second bill, A4002/S2257, gives casino operators a tax credit on sports betting revenue.

Atlantic City’s nine casinos were shuttered March 16 to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus and were permitted to reopen in early July. The nearly four-month shutdown resulted in significant losses for operators, and the industry has been adamant about the need for immediate tax relief.

The first bill reduces gaming revenue taxes for one year beginning from the date Atlantic City’s nine casinos were allowed to reopen (July 2), eliminates hotel fees through the end of 2020, defers certain licensing fees and permanently allows for a 100% deduction of provisional gaming credits and coupons against gross revenues.

The bill also allocates $100 million of COVID-19 related federal grant money to the state Economic Development Authority for small business assistance.

The bill was amended in the Senate to reduce the amount of time casinos would be permitted a reduction in gaming revenue taxes and eliminated a break on parking fees and tourism promotion fees.

Based on recent industry performance, and incorporating the Senate changes, the proposed legislation could reduce the amount of casino-related taxes and fees paid to the state and the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority by as much as $93 million over the course of one year.

The sports betting bill was introduced in May but only recently referred to committee. The legislation allows gaming operators to receive a credit from the promotional wagers and free bets offered to customers. The bill allows for a credit after the first $12 million from internet wagers and after the first $8 million from in-person bets. Any amount above those benchmarks will not be taxed, according to the bill’s text.

The legislation applies to both Atlantic City’s casinos and the state’s racetracks that offer sports wagering.

A third casino relief bill, which allows for the operators to apply for interest-free loans to help pay for operational costs, stalled in legislative committees.

The committee hearing begins at 10:30 a.m.

Contact: 609-272-7222

ddanzis@pressofac.com

Twitter @ACPressDanzis

Staff Writer

I cover Atlantic City government and the casino industry since joining The Press in early 2018. I formerly worked as a politics & government reporter for NJ Herald and received the First Amendment: Art Weissman Memorial NJPA Award two years in a row.

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