Bill Would Provide Tax Break for A.C. Casinos

Can it save the Taj Mahal from its imminent demise?

Photo courtesy  Wikimedia Commons.

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

We started the news day telling you it appeared the Taj Mahal Casino was about the kick the bucket. We head into the late afternoon, however, with news of a possible reprieve.

New Jersey State Senate President Steve Sweeney and Sen. James Whelan have proposed a plan to let Atlantic City’s surviving casinos pay $150 million to the state in lieu of taxes for two years; it would redirect a tax now used to support new developments to help Atlantic City pay off its debt.

AP reports:

It has many of the elements the struggling Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort has been seeking from state and local government in order to keep the casino open and save its 3,000 jobs. Asked if the package, if enacted into law, would be enough to keep the Taj Mahal open, Robert Griffin, CEO of Trump Entertainment Resorts, would only say, “We will see.”

The plan is designed to help casinos by reducing their annual taxes. It helps the city by giving it a predictable revenue stream without massive casino tax appeals each year that have helped drain the city’s coffers.

Casino workers would get something, too: A mandate of minimum health and retirement benefits. Financier Carl Icahn has said Taj Mahal employees would have to offer givebacks in order for the Taj to survive, but the workers have contested that proposal. That requirement also led to resistance from Sweeney for supporting a tax break. 

“With the multiple casino closings and competitive pressure in the gaming industry Atlantic City is facing an unprecedented economic challenge,” Sweeney said. “We need to take immediate action to stabilize the existing workforce, the casinos, property taxpayers and the entire community.”