The Atlantic City Council is uniting with Mayor Marty Small (D) in seeking a share of the tax revenue generated from sports betting at land-based casinos and their online sportsbook partners.
Last Friday during its final scheduled meeting of the year, the nine-member council voted in favor of a resolution which requests the New Jersey Legislature revise its sports betting tax law to provide Atlantic City with a local share. The beachfront resort town doesn’t receive a direct cut of the sports betting taxes generated by its casinos and their mobile books under the current arrangement.
The vote isn’t expected to sway many in Trenton. The state continues to maintain governance over Atlantic City, and the general opinion in the capital is that local leaders and the council remain inept in properly managing funds.
New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D) 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.”
Sports betting is available at Atlantic City casinos, along with Monmouth Park and the Meadowlands, the state’s two horse racetracks.
As reported by Casino.org, East Rutherford and Oceanport, the home boroughs of the Meadowlands and Monmouth Park, receive a 0.75 percent cut of the gross sports betting revenue under Assembly Bill 4111, signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy (D) in June 2018. Furthermore, Bergen and Monmouth, their host counties, collect 0.5 percent.
In October of 2018, a subsequent bill was passed which added a 1.25 percent tax on sports betting arising from Atlantic City sportsbooks and their mobile operators. However, those tax dollars are set aside for the state’s Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA). Neither Atlantic County nor Atlantic City decides how the money is spent.
Last month appearing before the Atlantic City Taxpayer’s Association, Small criticized, “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. But we don’t get one penny. Just think about that. That’s unacceptable.”
The CRDA has collected nearly $1.6 million since the first legal sports bet was wagered in June 2018. The two racetrack host counties and regions have reaped almost $2 million. In New Jersey, Meadowlands and mobile operator FanDuel are the dominant book, accounting for $120.5 million of the $237 million in year-to-date sports betting revenue.
Following Frank Gilliam Jr.’s resignation after confessing to stealing $87,000 from a youth basketball program he founded, Small took over as mayor in October. Gilliam’s less than two-year tenure was tarnished with controversy. In November of 2018, the Democrat was captured on surveillance video outside the Golden Nugget Haven Nightclub in a fistfight. He was never accused in that incident.
However, Gilliam pleaded guilty to wire fraud in relation to the basketball program. He admitted the money that was supposed to go to the Atlantic City Starz was instead used to fund his luxurious lifestyle. Gilliam faces up to 20 years in prison, and will be sentenced January 7.
Small has vowed an honest and transparent administration. Even if he’s never been found guilty of a crime, Small has a long arrest record which involved unfounded accusations of wire fraud, assault, and narcotic distribution.