Casinos in Atlantic City are ready for the state to take over the city finances, as the casinos claim they are ‘on the edge of the abyss’. An immediate vote has been called for by the casinos on bills already in legislature that would help the them get back on their feet. The state would take over the decision making processes of the finances for the city.
On Friday, Democratic Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto was called by the Casino Association of New Jersey concerning his version of an aid package for Atlantic City. The package is one of two bills that are being considered in the Trenton area.
The two bills have varying time frames in which the state would take over control of the finances of Atlantic City. However, both bills would allow the casinos to take payments instead of taxes in return, the casinos would not appeal tax assessments of properties.
The Association has stated that either bill would be helpful to the financial situation casinos are facing. If the bill by Prieto fails to move forward from Assembly, the group wants him to post the bill that has already move through the Senate to be voted on in his chamber.
The benefit for casinos would be to have the knowledge of exactly how much will be needed to budget instead of getting annual tax bills that are unpredictable. Tax bills for casino properties can vary year after and year and be difficult for casinos to cover. Tax appeals by casinos have been costly and would no longer hurt the budget of Atlantic City. An example of this is the monies owed to the Borgata Casino of New Jersey, over $170 million from the city due to tax appeals.
Money will soon run out in Atlantic City and the pressure is on for lawmakers to do something to help the situation. With the bills, the city would be given millions of dollars in aid but only after the financial benchmarks set by the state are met. The version in the Assembly would provide the city with as much as two years to improve the financial situation while the Senate has a time frame set of 130 days.
Atlantic City has suffered greatly since 2014, when four of the twelve operating casino venues shut down. Officials of the state say that Atlantic City hurt themselves financially by spending too much for generations while the casino revenues came in. The level of spending is not unable to be sustained, as casino revenues have fell several billion dollars, sitting at $2.56 billion for 2015 after earning $5.2 billion in 2006.