In New Jersey, a state-appointed mediator has reportedly resolved a series of long-running casino tax appeal cases after agreeing to settlement deals with seven Atlantic City casinos.
According to a report from The Press of Atlantic City newspaper, Wednesday saw former United States Senator Jeffrey Chiesa come to arrangements with Bally’s Atlantic City, Caesars Atlantic City, Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City, Golden Nugget Atlantic City and Tropicana Atlantic City as well as the owners of the now-shuttered Trump Taj Mahal and Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino.
Although the specific terms of the deals were not disclosed, Republican Governor Chris Christie reportedly told the newspaper that an $80 million bond ordinance adopted by Atlantic City in April should be enough to cover the various settlements.
Struggling with debts of over $500 million, 2014 had seen Atlantic City officials increase the tax rate on its casinos in hopes of raising much needed cash. But, the move backfired in court before November saw the seaside city of some 39,000 become the first New Jersey municipality since Camden in 2002 to be placed under the direct control of the state.
“The city was overwhelmed by millions of dollars of crushing casino tax appeal debt that they hadn’t unraveled when we arrived last autumn,” Chiesa told The Press of Atlantic City. “We made it a priority from day one to reach settlement agreements with casinos that are favorable to the city. Because of our hard work, the city has now quantified its casino tax appeal debt and has a plan in place to finance this debt that responsibly fits within its budget.”
The newspaper reported that February saw the state cut a similar deal with MGM Resorts International for the Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa that saw the 2,000-room property receive a refund of $72 million.
“Because of the agreements announced today, casino property tax appeals no longer threaten Atlantic City’s financial future,” read a statement from 54-year-old Christie. “Atlantic City residents can breathe easier knowing the state put the city in a much better position to preserve public services as it pays down the tax refunds it owes to casinos.”