Atlantic City casinos are in for a treat as a hotly debated state legislation that would provide them with tax relief and possibly prevent the closure of four casinos in the region has been passed through the New Jersey State Senate. Even though the proposal was met with strong opposition, and Atlantic County threatened to sue over the changes that arguably give casinos a leeway at the expense of taxpayers, the bill made it through. The bill was approved on Monday after 21 Members of the Senate voted for it and 14 voted against it. Four members were abstaining or decided not to vote.
Governor Phil Murphy Now Needs to Complete the Last Step
During the vote, all Republicans in the Senate voted against the bill. Senator Vince Polistina said that Republicans and other senators from New Jersey recognized the fact that some necessary changes were included in the bill, but the problem was that there are still sections that need to be worked on.
As for the vote in the Assembly, it went 46-19 in favor of the bill. Two were abstaining and 13 did not cast a vote. Now, the bill goes to the desk of Governor Phil Murphy, who needs to sign off on it and in doing so, make the bill official.
Voting took quite a while as Republicans commented extensively in order to extend the session. Many of them protested against the rules of having to show a negative COVID-19 test or proof of vaccination in order to enter the Statehouse, which is why Republicans participated in the debate over the phone.
The Bill is Known as the PILOT Bill and Its Goal is to Help Casinos Recover
This bill is known as the PILOT bill and has one goal – reduce the tax properties that casinos pay and thus, help them recover from the crisis caused by the pandemic. The Casino Association of New Jersey stated that if this legislation wasn’t passed, land-based casinos would’ve had a massive negative impact on land-based casinos. On the flip side, the bill would bring stability in the sector and help preserve around 20,000 jobs.
Its first version was passed five years ago after the closure of 12 Atlantic City casinos. What’s interesting about the bill is that Senator John Armato voted against it, even though he supported an earlier version of the legislation.
As Armato stated on Monday, he wasn’t able to receive enough information from the casinos on the necessity of the bill, especially about the four casinos that the president of the State Senate Steve Sweeney thought would close if the bill is not signed and in effect.
Sweeney thinks that even though numbers show that casinos and racetracks have a massive increase in revenue, things are getting worse, rather than better. However, he decided not to comment on which casinos are facing the risk of closure. Sports betting is one of the most successful gambling sectors in NJ as it passed the $1 billion sports betting handle mark in September.
The Governor decided not to comment when he was asked whether he would sign the bill, but he did say that it is a step in the right direction, leading many to believe that he will support it.