Miss America and NJ Casino Tax Funding

Tax Funded Sponsorship Under Threat

In 2017 the Miss America Organization (MAO) was funded nearly $4 million by the CRDA to continue hosting its pageant in Atlantic City. In early 2016 the organization had agreed to a three-year funding deal totaling $11.9 million.

Shortly before Christmas last year the pageant found itself in dismay after excerpts of emails were published of the former CEO making inapt sexual comments of previous contestants to other board members. The CEO was quickly suspended, and shortly after that various members of the board tendered their resignations.

With the publication of the emails, the Mayor-elect of Atlantic City jumped at the opportunity to call upon the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority to end the contract with MAO, calling it a “great Opportunity”.

New Jersey Assemblyman Vincent Mazzeo stated, “The CRDA needs to seriously rethink and prioritize how it spends its money, and it should start with its subsidy to the MAO. To me, it’s clear it’s not worth the $4 million/year investment.”

Mazzeo mentioned that the funds could be better invested in organizations, in the city like MeetAC, which could have a greater and more positive return on investment.

With the Miss America Pageant drawing fewer people each year, the lawmakers are not sure it’s worth the investment anymore. Thinking by the CRDA was that by having the pageant the weekend after Labor Day, it would attract the visitors and tourists to Atlantic City one last time before fall finally set in.

MOA under New Management

With the suspension of CEO Sam Haskell, an interim leader was named on Monday. Gretchen Carlson, a former Miss America, and former Fox News Anchor, was announced to be taking the reins of the Miss America Organization, as the new Board Chairwoman. Several former Miss America winners were also named as directors.

Procurement of Funds for Miss America Pageant

The CRDA acquires its funding through the taxation of casino revenue called IAT, a $5 per night hotel fee, and a $3 daily parking fee, which is generated, from the seven casinos operating in Atlantic City. These funds are re-used in the city for special projects that are not related to gaming. Primarily these funds are used to lower the city’s debt. Ultimately it boils down to return on investment, and the lawmakers of New Jersey say that the Miss America Pageant is simply not a viable investment anymore. They would love to see the pageant stay in Atlantic City, but not at the expense of the CRDA.

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