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Mediate or litigate PILOT lawsuit: State must decide by Jan. 13
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Mediate or litigate PILOT lawsuit: State must decide by Jan. 13

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Atlantic City Casino Taxes

This photo taken in June shows a gambler placing a bet on a roulette table at Bally's Atlantic City. The state told a judge on Jan. 13, 2022 it will will not participate in mediation in Atlantic County's lawsuit against a new casino payment-in-lieu-of-taxes law.

ATLANTIC CITY — A judge on Thursday morning ordered the state to let him know by Jan. 13 whether it is “agreeable to proceed with mediation” in Atlantic County’s lawsuit against a new casino payment-in-lieu-of-taxes law.

The order followed a Wednesday conference between attorneys in the case and Superior Court Judge Joseph Marczyk.

Marczyk has said he wants the parties to go into mediation.

The new legislation, which passed both the Senate and the Assembly on Dec. 20 and was quickly signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy, removes sports and internet gaming revenues from the calculation of what casinos owe in a basic PILOT. It lowers their payments to an estimated $110 million under the new law from $165 million under the previous law.

It gives the county the same amount in 2022 it received in 2021, about $17.5 million, but the 2021 payments were based on depressed casino revenues from 2020 during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns.

The lawsuit is against the state and the governor and was filed by the county and the towns of Somers Point, Hamilton and Egg Harbor townships, Absecon, Ventnor and Weymouth Township.

The county will lose about $4 million a year under the new PILOT law if enacted, the state Office of Legislative Services has estimated.

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The county says the annual loss is more like $5 million to $7 million.

State Senate President Steve Sweeney sponsored the legislation in the Senate and said repeatedly four casinos would close if it did not pass. But he never provided proof of that assertion.

A spokesperson for Murphy declined to comment on the pending litigation.

Assemblyman John Armato, D-Atlantic, the original sponsor of the Assembly version of the bill, took his name off it after the November election and voted against it on the Assembly floor.

Also voting against it was Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo, D-Atlantic. Armato said he was unable to get enough information on why it was needed, and Mazzeo said it was a bad deal for Atlantic County taxpayers.

The county’s attorneys filed an order to show cause Dec. 22 in Atlantic County Superior Court, after the bills passed the Legislature on Dec. 20 and Murphy signed them Dec. 21.

The order asked Assignment Judge Julio Mendez to temporarily enjoin the state from enacting into law Senate bill 4007 or Assembly bill 5587, and to set an emergency hearing date to determine whether the bills violate the existing consent order from 2018 and should be permanently blocked from taking effect.

Mendez referred the case to Marczyk, who quickly signed the order to show cause to start the legal process but did not temporarily enjoin the law.

“We are going to try to get a settlement that is in the best interests of everyone,” County Executive Dennis Levinson said Tuesday, “because the new PILOT, the way it is written, is only in the best interests of the casinos.”

REPORTER: Michelle Brunetti Post

609-272-7219

mpost@pressofac.com

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Staff Writer

In my first job after college got paid to read the New York Times and summarize articles for an early online data base. First reporting job was with The Daily Record in Parsippany. I have also worked in nonprofits, and have been with The Press since 1990.

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