Local 54 head Bob McDevitt went before the Casino Control Commission yesterday to talk about the hedge funds and private equity funds that have been buying up big stakes in casino companies, and every other company in god’s green America for that matter, and the threat they pose to local wage-earners.
The great Trump Taj Mahal liquidation sale opened to the public at 10:00 a.m. on July 6, about eight months after the casino closed and 167 days after Donald J. Trump was sworn in as the president of the United States. History was very much the subtext of the Taj Mahal fire sale, which offered customers a chance at a piece of the Donald, recently assured of his own place in history. But since mid-February, the surname of the president has been scrubbed from the property under the terms of a deal between Donald and his friend and economic adviser, Carl Icahn, who until recently controlled the property. There were no TRUMP-branded artifacts for sale at the Taj.
Atlantic County is looking for a law firm to challenge a law that shrunk Atlantic City casinos’ tax payments and increased the property tax burden on homeowners and businesses. The county wants a law firm to “challenge the constitutionality of the Casino Property Tax Stabilization Act,” according to the request for proposals published on Thursday. The lawyers could be asked to seek an injunction “against the further implementation of the act.” Sealed bids are due on May 23 and any successful bidder would be awarded a 12-month contract. The law was agreed almost a year ago but did not come into effect until New Jersey’s Department of Community Affairs declared Atlantic City in need of “stabilization” in November.
Atlantic City casino properties have closed, but the resort city’s biggest industry paid more into state coffers last year as its revenue increased. New Jersey’s tax revenue from the casino industry increased last year, as online gaming helped reverse a 10-year slump in casino taxes. Casinos paid the state $210.4 million in taxes and fees in the last fiscal year (July 2015-June 2016), up slightly from $206 million in the previous 12-month period, according to a Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) report published last month. The tax turnaround is a thin silver lining for New Jersey, which has seen its casino tax revenue eroded by more than two thirds from $500 million in 2006. Signs that Atlantic City’s main industry might be stabilizing after a 10-year freefall will also be scant consolation to the beachside town’s taxpayers, now facing a state takeover of the city’s finances that has already raised homeowners’ taxes after NJ legislators cut casinos a sweetheart property tax deal earlier in the year. Although online gaming is just a fraction of total casino revenue, it helped lead the turnaround for the fiscal year 2016, according to data recorded by the DGE.
The Office of the State Auditor has begun scrutinizing the books and records of the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, an official told Route 40 on Tuesday. CRDA, an Atlantic City-based government agency responsible for investing casino taxes and other government funds for economic development, has spent $2 billion on state-wide projects since its 1984 inception but it has rarely been put under the microscope. A spokeswoman for CRDA declined to comment on the audit. Some of its biggest projects in the last few years have paid for casino expansions, including $15 million spent on the Borgata night club and private pool project last year and almost $19 million spent on Tropicana’s boardwalk “enhancement” in 2014. Adding to its influence in Atlantic City, CRDA has been tasked with land use regulation and enforcement in the Tourism District (which includes the casino areas) since 2011.
A law firm is paying the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA) just $1 a year for 10 sweet parking spaces in the Authority’s swanky gated lot in Atlantic City, according to a document released to Route 40 as part of a freedom-of-information request. The lot abuts Gordon’s Alley, an historic Atlantic City retail lane, where businesses and workers said they’ve been adversely affected by the lack of convenient parking. The agreement between CRDA and the law firm is ridiculous for a few reasons:
The other weekend, I rode the jitney and met people who live and work in Atlantic City (and pay their taxes) and who can’t afford to drive to work because the parking costs* in this crazy city are too high. Apparently, they’re just not working for the right companies. CRDA’s main source of revenue is from parking fees.