Two emergency casino relief bills, put forward by state lawmakers during the pandemic’s peak, were put on hold, COVID-19 restrictions and consumer health concerns are believed to be the reasons behind this delay.
State lawmakers introduced both Senate Bill (S)2400/Assembly Bill (A)4032 and S2398/A4031 after New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy on March 16, 2020, ordered the shutdown of nine casinos to control the spread of COVID-19. Both bills come with temporary tax and fee relief for casinos.
The bill S2400/A4032 intends to provide immediate relief to casinos with benefits like reduced gaming revenue taxes for one year, no hotel fees until 2021, no slot machine fees, no licensing fees, and deduction of promotional gaming credits against gross revenues. The bill also provides economic assistance to small businesses to allocate $100 million of COVID-19-related federal grant money to the state Economic Development Authority.
The bill S2398/A4031 would allow casino operators to get interest-free loans approved by the state treasury and casinos benefitting from the bill are the ones that made their payments in place of taxes during the COVID-19 shutdown, however the senate has not yet approved the bill.
According to Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald who sponsored both bills, the state is carefully considering the impact of COVID-19 both on consumers and casinos and will do what is best for the casino and gaming industry.
Terry Glebocki, CEO of Ocean Casino Resort, said that Atlantic City’s casinos did not qualify for business relief measures proposed by the federal government and it would be of great help if they could receive some.
Though eight out of nine casinos reopened in July 2020 with few relaxations, the restrictions would cause the industry to take more time to stabilize, cautioned Joe Lupo, president of Hard Rock. He believes that with COVID-19 guidelines and measures in place throughout the state, it would be next to impossible for casinos to operate and sustain for a long time.
As casino executives are optimistic about both bills, believing it would help the gaming industry to move forward. Greenwald said the bills would go a long way to reduce tax responsibilities on casinos during these tough times.