ATLANTIC CITY–Americans who think more legalized gambling can ease their state and local tax burdens should take a close look at the travails of this struggling New Jersey seaside resort.
Because betting is now legal in neighboring states, gambling here is way down. The casino hotels have slashed their workforces, cut real wages and, citing falling property values, received huge property tax refunds — with more refunds likely.
The city has sold $103 million of bonds to finance casino property tax refunds, bonds that with interest will cost the average homeowner more than $2,100 over the next two decades, Michael Stinson, the city finance director, said.
The city is about to sell another $35 million in bonds, while the Press of Atlantic City reports that $40 million more may have to be borrowed next year. If all that happens the average homeowner eventually may be out more than $3,600 in added taxes.
That may well understate the added costs to local taxpayers in the next few years as the gambling business is likely to shrink even more, as Mayor Lorenzo Langford told me. Each time another casino opens in nearby states, “the Atlantic City market should expect to see some lost business,” Mayor Langford said, and “one or more of the weaker casinos may close.”