Hard Rock Sues Atlantic City in Tax Appeal

By Ben Hamill - January 30 2019

Hard Rock Sues Atlantic City in Tax Appeal

Hard Rock International is determined to stay true to the phrase, ‘the house always wins’. The casino operator has launched a legal battle against the New Jersey city of Atlantic City, and the metropolis now owes the operator millions in the heated tax dispute.

A report by a local media outlet has revealed that Hard Rock has won this dispute over tax obligations in the NJ city. As a result, the company will soon be paid a whopping $4.8 million from the city’s own coffers.

Atlantic City has been ordered to pay over $1.2 million per year for four years in total, with the fiscal obligation starting from next year onwards. This was confirmed by Lisa M. Ryan, a spokeswoman for AC’s Department of Community Affairs. The county in which the civic center is based, Atlantic County, will also need to cough up 8% of the tab.

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New Jersey Slammed with Lawsuits

Atlantic County executive Dennis Levinson has noted that his region was told that the lawsuit was completely settled. As for how they plan to move forward, he says that Hard Rock can do whatever they wish now, as long as the cost of the suit is not forwarded to taxpayers in the US County.

Back in 2017, New Jersey claimed that all casino tax appeals at the time (worth a combined $80 million) had been settled and bonded by the aforementioned city. However, a single small action had been forgotten, and it soon came back to bite those involved.

Ryan has stated that because of the timing of Hard Rock’s Taj Mahal Resort purchase and the work that had to be done to get the venue into PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes agreement for casinos), the 2017 appeal was not included in the $80 million bond ordinance that AC approved in August that year to ‘fund other property tax appeals.’

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PILOT Program Comes To an End

Between 2014 and 2017, tax appeals for a variety of different gaming establishments were set to be paid off by settlements. However, the property formerly owned by Donald Trump was at the time only covered through 2016, considering that it shuttered its doors that year.

The PILOT program has seemingly done quite a lot of damage. One local casino, the Revel, was forced to eventually sue the state in 2017 over the contentious program. New Jersey also had to sell $68 million in bonds to finance tax appeal settlements in cases with Golden Nugget, Caesars, Borgata, Harrah’s, Bally’s, Tropicana, and two other properties owned by Trump at the time.

With all that said, the Hard Rock saga has seemingly brought the issue to a close. Ryan has claimed that there are no further tax appeal issues that need to be addressed by either previous casinos or those establishments that are currently operating in Atlantic City.

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