NORTHFIELD – In May, Assemblyman John Armato introduced a bill giving wealthy casino owners a property tax break at the expense of Atlantic County's working families and retirees struggling to pay property taxes. The bill would have flattened the casinos’ payment-in-lieu of taxes (PILOT) at $125 million, while excluding sports betting and online gambling from revenue calculations—a huge boon to their bottom line at taxpayer expense.
“Time and again we have to fight for taxpayers against special interests, and John Armato clearly had those special interests in mind when he introduced that bill,” said Don Guardian, former Atlantic City mayor and a candidate for state Assembly in the 2nd Legislative District. “Casinos are doing extraordinarily well with online gambling and sports betting becoming more popular. Now is not the time to give casino executives a break when the hard working taxpayers of Atlantic County are already hurting.”
During last week's Stockton University debate, Assemblyman Armato said he wanted to open up a conversation between Atlantic City, casinos, and Atlantic County taxpayers about the future of the PILOT. At the time, Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson and others called the conversation a non-starter.
“Assemblyman Armato lost his way," said Claire Swift, a former Deputy Attorney General and candidate to represent the 2nd Legislative District in the state Assembly. “Casino owners don't need our help, Atlantic County taxpayers do. Let's start a conversation on that, instead of avoiding it and supporting the reckless fiscal policies of Governor Murphy and Trenton Democrats."