Last month, Small was voted in unanimously 8-0 by the Atlantic City Council to replace Mayor Frank Gilliam found guilty of wire fraud.
Gilliam had allegedly stolen $87,000 from a youth basketball program he founded which was revealed during an FBI and IRS investigation.
Small says that the town isn’t getting any direct financial benefit from sports betting. He expressed his views on sports betting before the November 7 meeting of the Atlantic City Taxpayer’s Association.
In 14 months, New Jersey has overtaken Las Vegas as the No. 1 sports betting destination, and a lot of it has to do with the success of Atlantic City, and a lot of it is online,” Small explained. “But we don’t get one penny. Just think about that. That’s unacceptable.”
Sports Betting Funds
In New Jersey, taxing is based on how a sports bet is wagered. Bets made in person are taxed at 8.5 percent while online mobile wagers are taxed at 13 percent. Moreover, there is a 1.25 percent tax on both that is set aside for the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA) which is to “be used exclusively for tourism and marketing programs for the City of Atlantic City.”
Atlantic City coffers don’t receive any sports betting tax directly. That’s not how sports betting revenue at the state’s two racetrack sportsbooks – Meadowlands and Monmouth Park – is taxed.
The law orders that the local funds be used for “economic development purposes, which shall include, but not be limited to, improvements to transportation and infrastructure, tourism, public safety, and properties located on or near the racetrack.”
Land-based sports betting has yielded $3.24 million in taxes through September. Online sportsbooks have yielded over $19.8 million in tax funds.
Critics think that the scheme was deployed by lawmakers in Trenton who don’t have faith in the local government of Atlantic City.
The state continues to maintain governance over Atlantic City, and that will last through 2021. Governor Phil Murphy (D) campaigned on returning power to local leaders, but reversed his position after winning the 2016 election.
Last fall, Murphy said, “Atlantic City is on the rise. But I don’t want to see this great and historical city on the mat again. This is not the end of our efforts. This is just the beginning.”
Lt. Gov. Shelia Oliver added in April that the state takeover will last until local “government effectiveness and accountability” has been proven.
Small had public scandals of his own. In 2006 and 2011, he was charged and acquitted of election fraud. He claims the trials were politically motivated and unjustified.