Listen to amazing audio > Jeffrey Gural says North Jersey casinos are in the future, like it or not. We tend to agree. Even the Hard Rock has a vested interest in gaming at The Meadowlands.
- Hard Rock’s purchase of the Taj Mahal Casino in Atlantic City puts company in prime position to open a North Jersey casino.
- Hard Rock publicly stated interest in building a casino at The Meadowlands, a racetrack they own 25% of.
- Hard Rock CEO Jim Allen says his company will build a casino at the Meadowlands if NJ voters change the law to allow it.
Listen below to Gural & Congressman Caputo grill Borgata President Tom Ballance.
Both Gural & Caputo dominated a panel during the annual East Coast Gaming Congress at Harrah’s last week, consisting of the President of Borgata & NJ State Assemblymen Brown & Mazzeo.
Borgata President Tom Ballance was put on the hot seat a few times. That was fun to watch. The #1 casino operator, with the sweetest tax deal, squirmed & stammered when questioned about some common issues. LISTEN >
Jeff Gural told Ballance: “Atlantic City casinos allowed the town to go bankrupt….and get turned into a slum”.
Assemblyman Caputo asked Ballance about MGM’s interest in buying Sands Casino in Bethlehem Pa. Mr. Ballance pleaded ignorance. (listen to audio) Yet, this story was in ALL the papers, including the Press of AC. News of a pending deal to sell the Bethlehem casino to MGM surfaced in March and shortly after Sands halted its $90 million expansion.
Caputo: “People don’t trust politicians in Trenton” People were hood-winked. The referendum lacked detail, like what tax rate would the new casinos pay? While it’s true that NJ voters recently said NO to killing the gaming monopoly in Atlantic City, poorly written ballots and heavy, negative PR and politics played a decisive role that squashed North Jersey gaming…for now. Ballance tended to agree somewhat. (Listen to audio)
Caputo says Atlantic City should have been “the Paris of the eastern seaboard.” True. So, what went wrong?
- A small 8% casino tax rate in AC. Other states get an approx 50% tax rate. Compare Caesars Harrah’s property in Chester that pays $125 mil to Pa… whereas the 3 combined AC Caesars properties send just $85 mil in taxes to NJ.
- AC luxury tax (parking & room) goes straight to Trenton
- State built un-needed & mountainous dunes that killed beauty of ocean front views & boardwalk retail. This pushed seaside visitors into the casinos instead.
- Crime festered while tourists were kept inside the big-box gambling palaces
Key Take-Aways from 2017 East Coast Gaming Congress in Atlantic City>
AC Casinos pay a tiny 8% tax rate to the State of New Jersey. Casinos in Pa. pay a 54% tax rate to the State of Pennsylvania.
The NO voted didn’t stop the highly questionable PILOT bill… or the jaw dropping under-assessment of the Borgata, or the migration of gamblers to casinos in New York and Pennsylvania….and let’s not forget about online gaming.
Borgata’s Tom Ballance on AC casinos 8% tax rate: “You do not see buildings like this one (Harrah’s) in PA with a 54 percent tax rate.” Yeah, Tom. And we don’t see half-price property assessments and fixed 10 yr PILOT taxes in PA either.
Gural reminded attendees that AC casino industry lobbyists helped write the poorly written ballot question. That’s part of why the referendum failed to remove the AC gaming monopoly.
Borgata’s Tom Ballance said the uncertainty of North Jersey casinos creates hesitation for AC investors. Ummm, not really, said onlookers. Many won’t invest in AC because of deeply inbred corruption, incompetence, crazy inaccurate assessments, and over-dependence on the current casino monopoly.
Assemblyman Brown kept beating this drum: “A North Jersey casino would simply cannibalize Atlantic city.” While this sound bite will get him a few extra votes, Brown’s position will just allow gaming dollars to go elsewhere…and for AC to stay dangerously dependent on the casino nipple.
Local news, radio, & political pundits keep harping on numbers that have little effect on the economic rebound of both Atlantic City and Atlantic County. They love just talking about gaming revenue.
Who are the REAL winners in all of this? The Atlantic City Casinos and the State of NJ. The local taxpayers in both South and North Jersey will be forced to take the financial hit.
The other winners are the competing casinos just over the border in NY, PA & Maryland. And… let’s not forget about those who gamble at home……online…..who will never set one foot in Atlantic City.