Democrats invite suspicion with stealthy PILOT proposal | Editorial

Earlier this month, not even halfway through the 10 years specified in PILOT legislation, MP John Armato, D-Atlantic, introduced a bill to:

reduce payments to help casinos recover from business losses due to a pandemic;

give Atlantic City and its state supervisor $ 5 million per year, not shared with the county;

reducing the PILOT’s share to split to $ 125 million in 2022, with increases from there based on on-site gaming revenue, but capping payouts at $ 135 million, ensuring less money would go to the Atlantic County;

and to exempt the revenues of the gaming industry’s fastest growing sports betting and online gaming segments by calculating the amount they owe PILOT.

Then a week later, Armato withdrew the bill from the Assembly’s State and Local Government Commission review. This week he said there would be amendments to the changes proposed by PILOT after discussions and analysis.

Atlantic County Director Dennis Levinson said he suspected Democrats of preparing to quickly pass and sign a bill not only to give the county its 13.5% share in PILOT, but also to deny him any share of the growing online gambling and sports betting income.

This fight has only just begun. Democrats can control the legislature and hold the governorship, but the county’s PILOT share has already been sanctioned by a Superior Court regulation. A few years ago, some thought that the original PILOT legislation was a waiver of New Jersey property tax law that would not survive a constitutional challenge.

About Therese Williams

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