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Whelan Bills To Boost Economic Activity In Atlantic City Advance From Committee

Measures Would Expand State Support of Non-Gaming Projects, Would Allow for Mobile Gaming Devices in Casinos

TRENTON – A pair of bills sponsored by Senator Jim Whelan, the Chairman of the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee, which would allow casinos to offer mobile gaming within their premises, and would create a tax credit program for non-gaming development projects in Atlantic City were approved by the Committee today.

“Atlantic City is the economic engine of South Jersey and much of the State’s tourism-based economy, and we have to be willing, from time to time, to revisit regulations and laws which may limit the resort’s appeal and national competitiveness,” said Senator Whelan, D-Atlantic. “By tweaking current laws, we can give casinos more regulatory freedom to offer diverse gaming opportunities to their patrons, and can ensure that the State is doing its part to encourage non-gaming development within the designated tourism zone within Atlantic City. These bills, taken as a whole, will make it easier to attract new investment in Atlantic City – gaming and otherwise – and will make it easier for Atlantic City to be one of the major resort destinations along the East Coast.”

The first bill, S-1323, would make a number of changes to the regulatory structure of casino gaming in New Jersey. Under the bill, casinos would be able to allow for electronic versions of authorized games to be played on mobile gaming devices within the casino and adjoining hotel, provided the player has established an account with the casino licensee, and the wager is placed by and paid to the patron in person within the approved hotel facility. The mobile gaming device would be required to be inoperable outside the approved casino or hotel facility.

“We’ve already seen mobile gaming devices adopted in Las Vegas, and these mobile games of chance appeal to a younger demographic,” said Senator Whelan. “This bill contains the safeguards necessary to prohibit under-age gambling, and ensures that mobile gaming is covered under the same regulatory structure as other authorized casino games. At the end of the day, this is one more gaming initiative which will ensure that Atlantic City casinos are at the forefront of trends in the industry.”

The bill would also permit casinos and slot machine manufacturers to enter into lease agreements for the operation of slot machines on premises; would expand the definition of a corporate officer under the regulatory framework of casino gaming in New Jersey, would amend the “gross revenue” definition under regulation to allow casinos to offer items such as cars, iPads or other popular items to draw people to New Jersey casinos, and would restore language which would allow casinos to compensate a junket enterprise based upon the actual casino gaming or simulcast wagering activities of a patron procured or referred by the junket enterprise. The bill was unanimously approved by the Committee, and now heads to the full Senate for review.

The second bill in the package, S-1324, would create a new tax credit program for non-gaming development within Atlantic City. Under the bill, non-gaming properties located in the Atlantic City Tourism (ACT) district, would be eligible for tax credits from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) when they expand and employ more New Jerseyans. A business which makes $20 million of qualified capital investment, determined by the EDA to yield a net positive benefit to the State, and employs at least 100 persons at the facility may qualify for tax credits equal to 10 percent of the capital investment, for each of 10 years following the investment, leveraged against the business’s corporate tax liability or insurance premiums tax liability.

“While casino gaming is a big part of Atlantic City’s economy, the appeal of the city is so much more than just casinos,” said Senator Whelan. “In recent years, there has been substantial investment in non-gaming development within the city, to make Atlantic City a true destination resort, rather than just a gaming destination. While we’re working to keep Atlantic City’s casinos competitive, we have to be mindful of keeping Atlantic City competitive, and by offering a tax credit for non-gaming projects within the tourism district, we can attract new shopping, dining and entertainment options for Atlantic City’s visitors to enjoy.”

The bill was approved by a vote of 3-0 with two abstentions, and now heads to the full Senate for review.

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