Atlantic City wants a cut of New Jersey’s sports betting tax

Dec 10, 2019 3:17 PM

Atlantic City wants a cut of state taxes collected on New Jersey’s fast-growing sports betting industry — the same deal that communities hosting two racetracks get.

But like those Philadelphia Eagles-to-win-the-Super Bowl bets, this venture remains a long shot.

Atlantic City should get the same deal that East Rutherford and Holmdel get — 1.25% of the taxes on sports betting generated by racetracks in those two communities, Mayor Marty Small said.

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But under state law, Atlantic City’s cut goes to a state agency, the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, which uses it to market the resort.

That’s fundamentally unfair, Small said, particularly given the range of state taxes from which Atlantic City is excluded.

“Say a person comes to Atlantic City, checks in and buys an alcoholic drink: he pays a luxury tax that we don’t get a penny of,” Small said. “He stays in a hotel from Wednesday though Sunday; that’s a hotel tax we don’t get a penny of. He parks his car for four days in a casino garage; that’s a parking tax we don’t see a penny of. And he bets on sports while he’s here — and we don’t get a penny of that? How is that fair?”

Small has made his case to a state Assembly committee, and last week, the City Council passed a resolution supporting that quest.

But state officials have thrown cold water on the idea thus far, saying that the city, which recently endured yet another municipal corruption scandal that saw a former mayor plead guilty to theft, needs to show it can be trusted with the resources it already has.

State Senate President Steve Sweeney recently told The Press of Atlantic City, “You can’t talk about raising taxes or finding new sources of revenue until you really do have your house in order. This city still has a long way to go.”

Atlantic City remains under a state takeover of most municipal power that was launched under former Republican Gov. Chris Christie, with the blessing of the Democratic-controlled state Legislature, including Sweeney.

Since sports betting began in New Jersey a year and a half ago, the development authority has received nearly $1.6 million in sports betting payments earmarked for marketing Atlantic City, and the municipalities and counties that host the two horse tracks have gotten nearly $2 million.

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