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Joe Blow Slot Machine – 1 of 4 In this May 3, 2021, photo, a woman plays a slot machine at the Hard Rock Casino in Atlantic City, N.J. On Monday, Dec. 6, 2021, Senate President Steve Sweeney said four of Atlantic City’s nine casinos are . are at risk of shutting down if the state Legislature does not pass a casino tax bill that advanced Monday through a Senate committee. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)1 of 4 In this May 3, 2021, photo, a woman plays a slot machine at the Hard Rock casino in Atlantic City, N.J. Monday, Dec. 6, 2021, Senate President Steve Sweeney said. Four of Atlantic City’s nine casinos are at risk of closing if the state Legislature does not pass a casino tax bill that was advanced Monday through a Senate committee. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) – Four of Atlantic City’s nine casinos are at risk of closing if the state doesn’t provide tax revenue for the casinos, the president of the New Jersey Senate said Monday.

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The comments of Democrat Steve Sweeney at the Senate committee meeting represented a departure from the original rationale behind the bill: that it is needed to help casinos recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

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The bill would change the existing law allowing casinos to pay in lieu of property taxes to Atlantic City, Atlantic County and the city’s school system, so they don’t have to worry about their property taxes.

“There are four casinos that are at risk of closing,” Sweeney said. “We do not want this to happen. I don’t want to be in a situation where it’s, ‘I told you that place was closed, and it’s closed.'”

Sweeney, who lost his re-election bid last month, said he spoke to “a lot of casinos, and I spoke to the casino association,” referring to the Casino Association of New Jersey, a trade group for the casino industry in Atlantic City.

Joe Lupo, president of the casino and president of the Hard Rock Casino in Atlantic City, said the agency has been in contact with elected officials.

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“We fully expect to pay our fair share, but we need to be stable going forward,” Lupo said, adding that the change itself could provide that.

Atlantic City’s casino profits and revenues have soared this year, buoyed by last year’s pandemic-related declines.

But casino officials have long complained that revenue from sports betting and online gambling should be shared with technology platforms, sportsbooks and their partners – even though the casinos pay all the taxes.

That’s the main reason the bill would exempt sports betting and online gambling — two of the industry’s most common forms of gambling — from counting the amount casinos must pay the city in lieu of property taxes.

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The bill was passed by a Senate committee on Monday, and now heads to the full Senate later this month. It must also be approved in the State Assembly.

It would lower payouts for some casinos, including the Borgata, while offering higher payouts for others, including the Hard Rock.

The first version of the bill was introduced five years ago when Atlantic City was reeling from the closure of five of its 12 casinos.

Already able to demonstrate that their businesses were cost-effective in a shrinking market, the casinos appealed their tax assessments year after year, helping to punch big holes in Atlantic City’s budget.

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The new model will reduce total payroll costs to $110 million next year, down from $55 million, although that could be partially offset by other payments.

The bill does not affect the federal taxes that casinos must pay on online gambling fees (15%) and online sports betting fees (13%), or the 9.25% tax on individual casinos.

Don Guardian, a former Atlantic City mayor who will be sworn into office next month as an Assembly Republican, opposes the changes, saying they would benefit casinos at the expense of taxpayers. The president of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association told lawmakers Monday that without action. The Kentucky General Assembly, the state’s Supreme Court recently ruled that pari-mutuel betting would “destroy horse racing” in the state and could cause Kentucky to “lose our reputation as the horse capital of the world.”

“Without (the Classic Horse Race), we’re going to see a huge exodus of horses from our racetracks and farms,” ​​Braxton Lynch said. and Kentucky’s fifth run could be in jeopardy. “

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The Supreme Court dealt a blow to the racing industry in September when it ruled that Historical Horse Racing, or HHR, terminals are illegal.

A lawsuit filed by the Family Foundation of Kentucky that ruled that most HHR machines – very similar to casino slot machines – do not constitute “pari-mutuel” regulations, and the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission lacked the authority to allow them to operate. places often called “racinos.”

HHR has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the racing industry, keeping the track open and purses big enough to compete with other countries.

Gaming terminals like slot machines but use horse races to determine winnings to determine payouts.

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At a meeting Monday, horse racing officials called for legislation to allow such HHR facilities to be legalized, with attorney Bill Lear of the Keeneland Association saying it “could be possible without a legislative change.”

“With the laws that define pari-mutuel betting, this can be done,” said Lear, who added that no law has specifically defined such betting even though it has been allowed in Kentucky for more than 100 years.

But Stan Cave, a lawyer for the Family Foundation, maintained that changes to the law should be made to allow HHR. It’s a similar argument to the one the agency made in the previous legislative session against the sports betting ban.

Noting that the horse industry has received $717 million from HHR while the state has received only $52 million in taxes from such sports over the past nine years, Cave called it “the biggest waste in Kentucky history.”

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Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer had sharp words for Cave and Family Foundation CEO Kent Ostrander, saying that 100,000 jobs in the state’s horse industry are at risk without HRR, and “if we don’t do it right and these jobs leave Kentucky, blood will be on your hands.

“We’re not looking for the growth of gambling here,” Thayer said. “What we want to do is legislate that historic horse racing meets the definition of pari-mutuel wagering and this agency has the authority to do that.”

Ostrander, who called the slot machines “gambling’s mother’s milk,” said any lost jobs should be blamed on the racing body, which quickly announced which tracks could legally operate HHR machines.

“My anger is directed at the people at the top who go ahead with this machine and build a false house on thin ice,” Ostrander said. t.I wish they would wait for an answer, because there are better answers in the horse industry than breaking the law.”

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As of Monday, no bill had been proposed by lawmakers for the 2021 session, which begins in January, to re-define pari-mutuel competition in Kentucky.

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