- Associated Press - Friday, December 18, 2015

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) - Projects that will have a huge impact on Atlantic City are moving through the New Jersey Legislature, including plans for an expansion of casino gambling to the northern part of the state, and a financial assistance package for the seaside gambling resort.

Here’s a look at what was passed on Thursday, and what could happen next:

____

ASSEMBLY CASINO REFERENDUM PLAN

An Assembly committee made minor changes to its bill to let voters decide whether to authorize two new casinos in the northern part of the state, slightly tweaking the allocation of gambling tax revenue from the new casinos.

The bill would send 35 percent to Atlantic City to compensate for anticipated losses and 2 percent to the horse racing industry, while the rest would be split between existing programs for seniors and the disabled and property tax relief for those groups for 15 years.

The Assembly bill would let one of the two new licenses go to a company that does not already own an Atlantic City casino.

____

SENATE CASINO REFERENDUM PLAN

A Senate committee approved a bill sponsored by Senate President Steve Sweeney requiring that both of the two new casinos be owned by a company that already owns an Atlantic City casino. He suggested a company could buy or partner with an existing Atlantic City casino to qualify.

Sweeney’s bill caps aid to Atlantic City at no more than a third of the gambling taxes generated by the new casinos. Half of the first $150 million would go to help rebuild Atlantic City. The aid would decline by 10 percent for each additional $150 million generated.

Two percent would go to the communities that host the new casinos and half would go to seniors and the disabled.

The Atlantic City aid payments would begin in the second year that the new casinos operate; their taxes for the first year would go to the state Casino Revenue Fund that current casinos pay into.

The Senate plan would also send 2 percent to the horse racing industry.

____

NEXT STEPS

Senate and Assembly leaders will try to resolve their differences and adopt a unified bill next week. If they are unable to agree, they will select one of the two bills to put before the full Legislature. It must pass by a simple majority in two consecutive Legislative sessions, or in a single session by a three-fifths majority to get on the ballot.

____

ATLANTIC CITY FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE

The full Assembly approved a revised financial assistance package for Atlantic City, making changes demanded by Gov. Chris Christie when he vetoed it last month. The key measure is the payment in lieu of taxes bill that would let Atlantic City’s eight casinos make specified payments for 15 years instead of property taxes. The casinos would be able to predict their costs, and would be prohibited from appealing their taxes.

Christie’s main demand is that the $30 million a year that would have continued to fund the soon-to-be-defunct Atlantic City Alliance, which helped market the resort, be held by the state for two years until the city adopts a financial reform package acceptable to the state. The money would have gone straight to the city under the original version of the bill.

____

NEXT STEPS

The Senate still has to vote on the three-bill package, which also redirects casino investment taxes to help pay down Atlantic City’s municipal debt, before sending to Christie.

___

Follow Wayne Parry at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide