Emergency Casino Relief Bills in New Jersey Not Helping Atlantic City Anywhere at the Moment

Support which the state government promised for Atlantic City casinos has yet to come to fruition and owners are not happy about it. Initially the two bills that were passed to offer financial relief to Atlantic City casinos were welcomed with open arms by execs. Both bills however haven’t moved for weeks.

The bills were S2400/A4032 and S2398/A4031, which were designed specifically to offer Atlantic City casinos measures which could help them financially during what has been a tough year. The closures in March had a big impact on New Jersey’s hotels and casinos, and it is high time that the bills got moving, despite a backlog which lawmakers claim to have.

 

Bill Details

The first bill which we saw passed was S2400/A4032, which was moved as an emergency resolution by state Senate. Despite being passed quickly, The Assembly is yet to take up the bill. This bill reduces overall taxes for gaming revenue for at least one year, and it also sought to remove hotel fees until the end of the year. We went further into the bill in this article.

The S2400/A4032 bill will also defer licensing fees and allocates a total sum of $100 million of federal grant money to the state for small business assistance.

The second bill, S2398/A4031, featured a direction to the State Treasury to offer interest-free loans to Atlantic City casinos which continued payments in place of taxes during the lockdown. The Assembly moved this bill back in June, and we are still awaiting the Senate to take action.

This was taken from the press release given shortly after the bills were passed, with a clear indication of urgency that has now been lost.

“Supporting our state and regional economies and employing thousands of workers, the closure of New Jersey’s casinos has no doubt cast a huge shadow on Atlantic City and New Jersey’s tourism industry. The legislation released from today’s committee will work in complement to provide a fiscal path forward for an industry that has been devastated by the effects of this pandemic. A path that will help propel us through recovery, and one that particularly aims to see Atlantic City get back on track.”

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Pressure

With pressure mounting from Atlantic City executives, it looks to be just a matter of time before we see some movement on the bills. Louis Greenwald, Assembly Majority Leader, who actually sponsored bth bills, remains confident in the state’s focus on Atlantic City:

“It’s just really a very fluid situation as the virus continues to change and how we manage the virus, while supporting the industry and trying to figure out what’s the best way to move forward,”

 

Qualifying

The reason why owners of Atlantic City casinos are so keen to have these bills set into motion is that many failed to qualify for governmental support during the crisis.  Both federal and state relief measures were difficult to get for those in the gaming industry, hence the need for additional support.

 

Reopen

Both of these bills were passed when casinos were closed and following their reopening on July 25th, some owners are concerned that they will now be forgotten. Whilst being reopen is important, Atlantic City casinos have tight restrictions and to say that things are back to normal would be an enormous overstatement. President of Hard Rock Joe Lupo reiterated these concerns when speaking with Press of Atlantic City:

“The restrictions that we are operating under … and all the other COVID measures throughout the state, has created a different destination, and (it is) one that cannot operate under these guidelines for a lengthy period of time…Without relief, I see real problems for the future.”

Atlantic City casinos and others around the country often get a bad time of it owing to the huge sums of money which go through their resorts. Regardless of this however the massive cost of what has taken place in 2020 has hit industries like theirs the hardest. What leaves the bitter taste in the mouth is that there has been clear efforts to help, which appear to have been abandoned at the last minute.

This will certainly concern all involved with the S-17 bill which we cover here, which will be a necessary step in the financial recovery of Atlantic City casinos and hotels.

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