Tag Archive: casinos

Casinos: A Gamble Not Worth Taking

As the New Jersey Legislature rushed to push through constitutional amendments at the end of the last session, north Jersey casino gambling did not make the cut.  Political infighting over competing plans and between potential gubernatorial candidates took center stage….
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Atlantic City Attractions

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Great read by Meir Rinde at NJSpotlight.

Is it time to question the fiscal wisdom of the Atlantic City Bailout?

The state has spent at least $1.75 billion on hundreds of infrastructure, hotel expansion, retail, entertainment, housing, and community-development projects in the city since gambling began in the late 1970s. It has additionally granted millions in low-interest loans and tax credits and reimbursements to various businesses, and paid out regular municipal and school aid. The investment has been seen as justified given that, during the same period, casinos and other businesses paid out $9 billion in taxes and other fees, according to Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian.

That level of tax revenue appears unlikely to recur over the next three decades. Four of the city’s 12 casinos shut down this year and a fifth, the Trump Taj Mahal, could close on Saturday. The casinos paid less than $215 million in state taxes and fees last year, the lowest amount since the late 1980s and less than half the $500 million they contributed at their peak in 2006.

They have also succeeded in slashing their property tax assessments in recent years, winning local tax refunds that have forced Atlantic City to jack up tax rates and take on $345 million in debt over four years. The city’s troubles are so dire that a gaming advisory commission reporting to Gov. Chris Christie is recommending that the state impose an emergency manager to slash spending and accelerate nongaming commercial development.

Serious question: Why is Seaside’s boardwalk packed to the brim with vacationers in the summer and Atlantic City’s boardwalk rarely even moderately crowded?

Rescuing people not casinos in Atlantic City

Gov. Christie in remarks about the Atlantic City crisis has viewed it as a casino problem. Four have recently closed and they are paying substantially less taxes into the state coffers. His response last month was to lift NJ’s sports-betting prohibition.

Rev. Bill Warner, Director of Pastoral Care at Atlantic City Rescue Mission, has a different point-of-view. His mission is rescuing people not casinos.

Of the approximately 8,000 individuals laid off by casinos, Rev. Warner estimates 80% of them have low-end jobs – people who are least able to deal with the crisis. In addition, vendors who provide products and services to casinos are suffering. His agency can handle only 250 to 300 people a day and is already operating at full capacity.

This non-profit organization provides shelter for the homeless, meals, work-readiness programs, emergency assistance, and other related services for men, women and children. He calls what’s happening the “Hurricane Sandy of Unemployment.” By November/December as unemployment benefits expire he feels the problem will be incrementally worse.

His agency receives its monies through donations, grants, fundraising events, and a little from the State. He places his faith in God and feels the churches have to step up their efforts and that caring individuals will donate. Rev. Warner says, “We have people to take care of and help.” In spite of Christie’s ballyhooed AC Summit, he doubts the State will help much.  

QoTD: “An Unemployed Congressional District”

Quote of the Day goes to Bill Hughes, candidate for Congress in CD2 against Frank LoBiondo:

South Jersey is not a Democratic congressional district. South Jersey is not a Republican congressional district. South Jersey is an unemployed congressional district. Atlantic County was just placed last among 372 metropolitan areas in job gains and losses! It is obvious new leadership is needed.

The quote, via his Hughes for Congress Facebook page was responding to the disastrous economic news as area residents bleed casino jobs by the thousands. And it was a call to action for his campaign.

That moment when I agree with Americans for Prosperity (no, not really)

We now know for sure Showboat Casino Hotel will close Aug. 31 – the third failing casino property of the year following the Atlantic Club being chopped up and sold for parts and the continuing money pit that is Revel Casino. And Americans for Prosperity (AFP) – the Koch Bros-funded group that right-winger (and handicapped white guy and cancer support group leader and serial candidate Steve Lonegan used to run in New Jersey – has some thoughts:

In a statement today, they complain about the  all the “subsidies, tax breaks, and taxpayer-funded low-interest loans in the world (that) are not going to bring Atlantic City back”.  Yeah, baby. They call Revel “an epic bust,” and decry the “corporate welfare” the state’s throwing at AC. The state “needs to stop trying to micromanage it back into relevance. Whoa, harsh. Better not tell the folks on AC’s new gay beach that.

I’ve got a problem with corporate welfare, too. More on that in a bit. And I’ve always been uncomfortable with New Jersey’s interest in using public money to create (or prop up) opportunities for working joes to gamble. It’s OK entertainment if you’re in control, and I know it has fans. But it also suckers the poor. Ditto the lottery, not a fan.

But let’s get clear on a couple things here. The casinos, as a labor leader at Unite HERE Local 54 says, never cared about Atlantic City. The casinos were a glass wall that divided the city from its own shore, and the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA) soon shifted focus from housing there to casino/hotel-centered projects aimed at making AC competitive. And the surrounding areas (many of them mostly white) boomed while the city – largely black and with unaddressed hard-core unemployment, and problems that go with it – didn’t.

But that’s not why AFP objects. They don’t care how many people – many of them unionized – are going to lose their jobs this summer. When you get down to it, AFP barely recognizes unionized people as people. Atlantic City is easy for them to take a shot at because for years many of the politicians running looking after it have been Democrats (new mayor Don Guardian’s not a Dem, but he and his gay beach aren’t exactly their kind of Republican).

But beyond that, it’s funny that it’s AFP trying to claim the high ground against corporate welfare.  

Casino workers or teachers?

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SO I was having a conversation with a conservative recently and the subject of NJ putting money into the casinos in Atlantic City came up.  I said “Do we really need to use our tax dollars to prop up casinos and Atlantic City?”

TO which I got a reply of “Yes, but the casinos contribute to the state economy, think about how many people would be out of work if they fail?”

“Hmmm…  So what you’re saying is it’s OK for the government to get into the business of bailing out free enterprise if it can’t support itself?”

“No….I mean…we’ll lose all those jobs….”

“So what about GM? SHould we have bailed them out or not?  Free market economy right?”

“Well, no….the government needs to help…”

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