Golden Nugget threatens Lawsuit over Atlantic City Taxes

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The Golden Nugget Casino has threatened a lawsuit over a proposed tax assistance plan in Atlantic City. Golden Nugget’s owner, Tilman Fertitta, argues that the legislation would help Atlantic City’s larger casinos while increasing taxes for smaller gaming establishments like his.

The bill is sponsored by New Jersey State Sen. Jim Whelan and State Senate President Stephen Sweeney, who’ve been searching for ways to help the struggling seaside resort. And Whelan is quite unhappy over Golden Nugget’s threatened litigation, calling it “ludicrous” and “counter productive.”

But Steven Scheintha, an attorney for Fertitta, claims that the potential lawsuit is far from ludicrous when looking at the numbers. As Scheintha points out, Golden Nugget paid $4.7 million in property taxes in 2014. However, under the new proposal, their taxes would jump to $8.1 million. Bally’s and Resorts, two other smaller casinos in Atlantic City, would also see tax hikes.

Meanwhile, the industry giants such as Borgata, Caesars, Harrah’s and Tropicana, would all see less property taxes. As calculated by Scheintha, Harrah’s, for example, would pay $10.9 million less in 2015 taxes. “You can’t play Robin Hood. Especially, you can’t play Robin Hood when you’re robbing from the poor casinos and giving to the rich casinos,” the lawyer said of this matter.

Whelan and Sweeney have already brought up a tax credit amendment to the bill in response to smaller casinos’ concerns. The amendment would provide a tax credit to any casino that pays more property taxes in 2015 than in the previous year. As Whelan says, the goal is to get a consensus in place for the city’s eight remaining casinos.

Atlantic City began the year with 12 casinos, however, Atlantic Club, Revel, Showboat and Trump Plaza have all closed. Trump Taj Mahal is on the verge of closing, but billionaire Carl Icahn hopes to buy it if the workers union agrees to give up health benefits and pension plans.

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