“The Casino Revenue Fund is critical to operating the Senior Citizen and Disabled Resident Transportation Assistance Program,” said Jim Smith, spokesperson for NJ Transit, as The Press of Atlantic City reported. “This program allows for county coordinated transportation that provides transportation to senior citizens and people with disabilities and acts as a lifeline to necessities such as non-emergency medical trips, shopping, and nutrition.”
Over the past decade, the increase in casino gaming in the region has had a dramatic impact on the amount in the fund. Casino tax revenue dropped to $214.6 million in 2013 as the casino market in the city started to crate. The economic downturn of that period contributed to four casinos closing in 2014, including the Atlantic Club, Showboat, Revel, and Trump Plaza. A fifth casino, the Trump Taj Mahal, closed down in 2016. The fund hit rock bottom in 2015 when it generated $205.9 million in revenue, the lowest amount since 1987, according to state records.
However, assisted by the reopening of two casinos in the city, legalized sports betting, and the continued growth of internet gaming over nearly the past decade, the revenue in the fund has continued to grow.
“Internet gaming has substantially increased tax revenue for the state of New Jersey’s Casino Revenue Fund and for the CRDA,” said Jane Bokunewicz, Director of the Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality and Tourism at Stockton University. “The increased volume of internet gaming play, coupled with the higher tax rate, 15% on internet gaming compared to 8% on slots and tables revenue, led to a substantial increase in total gaming taxes collected by the state of N.J. — particularly post-COVID,” she added, according to the above-mentioned media.
While the city doesn’t receive money directly from casino taxes, it does receive money from a $2 fee per occupied casino hotel room. The surcharge, which went into effect in March 2022, generated more than $6.8 million last year. Through July this year, the surcharge has generated more than $3.8 million. The money the city receives from the surcharges goes toward public safety in the resort.
The Casino Revenue Fund was established in 1976 with the provision that state revenues derived from casino gambling would be applied solely for the purpose of “providing funding for reductions in property taxes, rental, telephone, gas, electric, and municipal utilities charges of eligible senior citizens and disabled residents of the State in accordance with such formulae as the Legislature shall by law provide,” according to the state.
The fund’s authorized use was expanded in 1981 to include additional or expanded health services or benefits and transportation services or benefits to eligible senior and disabled residents.