Atlantic City (AC) Mayor Marty Small said about a month ago that the city deserves to directly receive a piece of the revenue sports gambling is giving to the state. After all, it’s because of Atlantic City that New Jersey is seeing an incredible influx of money through sports wagers and, even though there is a state fund allocated for AC’s revival, Small believes the city should control a portion of the proceeds, as well. The AC Council agrees and is now getting onboard with Mayor Small.
The alliance is pushing for a cut of the tax revenue from both retail and online sports gambling operations that come out of AC. On December 6, the council held a vote on a resolution to be presented to the New Jersey Legislature that seeks to alter state tax laws on sports gambling to allocate a percentage directly to the city. The nine members on the council fully support the measure.
Despite the push, state legislators most likely won’t feel obligated to submit to the proposal. The state has controlled AC’s movements for years as revenue started to slide, and many at the highest levels still don’t believe the city is capable of managing its own resources. Instead, they prefer to give it an “allowance,” much like a parent giving a kid money for cutting the grass. The New Jersey Legislature isn’t yet convinced that AC has matured enough to be self-sufficient and responsible.
Small went in front of the AC Taxpayer’s Association last month and asserted, “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.”
New Jersey puts a portion of sports gambling revenue into the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, which is used to determine, by the state, how AC is managed. Neither AC nor Atlantic County, where AC sits, has a say in where the money goes.
This issue is far from over and there is now an apparent struggle for local power that will only exacerbate the friction. Some want to see the ouster of a mayoral position and large city council in favor of just a city manager and a small city council. The idea is backed by some local casinos and business owners, and the New Jersey Legislature is certainly not going to hand over any power or control of funds until this issue is resolved.