In the American state of New Jersey and a judge will reportedly next month be asked to put off implementing his earlier decision that threw out 2021 amendments to the jurisdiction’s controversial casino payment in lieu of tax (PILOT) regime.
According to a report from The Press of Atlantic City newspaper, Atlantic County Superior Court Judge Michael Blee ruled in favor of the non-profit Liberty and Prosperity educational organization on August 29 so as to invalidate a range of PILOT-related revisions signed into law by New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy in December. These changes were purportedly agreed following the economic tumult of the coronavirus pandemic but subsequently invalidated after being found to be in violation of the eastern state’s constitution by favoring an industry over the public purpose.
New Jersey is home to nine casinos and reportedly began inking a range of associated PILOT deals in 2016 so as to allow these gambling-friendly venues to contribute a set range of annual taxes at the expense of fluctuating revenue-based levies. These arrangements were purportedly seen as a way of securing much needed public revenues for the host community of Atlantic City and allow the seaside resort of some 38,000 people to avoid bankruptcy.
The Press of Atlantic City reported that New Jersey drew the ire of critics late last year when it inked revised PILOT deals with the nine casinos featuring even lower mandatory minimum contributions. The state later argued that these reduced commitments were necessary in order to keep the local gambling industry from going under at the hands of coronavirus-related financial pressures.
Nevertheless, Liberty and Prosperity reportedly managed to successfully argue against the implementation of these amended PILOT deals on the grounds that New Jersey could not show any evidence as to how these would increase the state’s overall economic health. The organization’s spokesperson, Seth Grossman, purportedly told the newspaper that local laws moreover prohibit the legislature from taxing one real estate band at a different rate than others in the same area.
In response to Judge Blee’s ruling and the Acting Attorney General for New Jersey, Matt Platkin (pictured), has now reportedly lodged an official appeal that is to be considered by the same authority at a special October 7 hearing. This effort will purportedly argue that invalidating the revised PILOT deals would throw the finances of Atlantic City and the state into disorder and cause irreparable harm to the local casino industry.
Christopher Glaum serves as the Chief of Investigations for the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement regulator and reportedly told the newspaper that the ultimate invalidation of the latest PILOT deals could cause the local casino industry to ‘decline as it did during the 2009 to 2017 period’ and result in ‘substantial economic and societal impacts’ for Atlantic City and New Jersey. The watchdog purportedly furthermore noted that the Golden Nugget Atlantic City, Resorts Casino Hotel and Bally’s Atlantic City venues ‘would face much higher payments’ and could potentially see their overall survival threatened.