The Golden Nugget casino in Atlantic City is crying foul over a proposed tax assistance bill, calling the legislation “unconstitutional” and a blatant example of cronyism that “needs to stop.”
The casino, which is one of the smaller ones in Atlantic City, is directing its ire towards proposed legislation sponsored by Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Sen. Jim Whelan. The proposed plan would allow casinos to collectively make fixed payments of $150 million in lieu of property taxes for two years with future payments tied to gaming revenues, instead of property taxes.
The Golden Nugget is threatening to sue the state to block the plan and in the words of general counsel Steven Scheinthal, “blow this whole thing up.”
“You can’t play Robin Hood. Especially, you can’t play Robin Hood when you’re robbing from the poor casinos and giving to the rich casinos,” Scheinthal told the Press of Atlantic City.
The casino says its tax bill would rise from $4.7 million to $8.1 million under the Sweeney legislation. Resorts Casino Hotel is due for a hike from $4 million to $8.2 million while Caesars Entertainment’s Bally’s will see its bill increase from $8.3 million to $10.9 million.
All the other casinos have drawn the long straws, including Harrah’s, which will see its tax bill slashed from $31.8 million to $20.9 million, while Caesars Atlantic City’s bill will fall from $20.9m to $8.9 million. The Tropicana and The Borgata’s tax bills will fall from $22.7 million and $30.9 million to $13.7 million and $28.2 million, respectively.
Sweeney’s legislation was approved by a state Senate committee earlier this week, but Scheinthal said Golden Nugget owner Tilman Fertitta will try to get a court order to block the legislation if Gov. Chris Christie ever signs the bill into law.
“We expect fair legislation,” Scheinthal added. “We don’t expect our legislators to harm us, and that’s exactly what’s going on.”