|In what was called as “as historic an address as a governor has ever given” by state Senator William Gormley, New Jersey Governor James E McGreevey defended plans to tax “comps” – freebies given by Casinos to their best customers. The audience of Atlantic City casino executives at the Mid-Atlantic Gaming Congress will not be pleased at that, but there were carrots as well as sticks in his address, namely plans to revitalize the Boardwalk, loosen gaming regulations expand airline service and parking, as well as the construction of a light rail system linking Atlantic City International Airport with the city.|
The tax on comps would hit casinos hard, as casinos give away around two-thirds of their hotel rooms and over $200 million in meals every year in comps to their best gamblers. The tax would raise $33 million per year for New Jersey’s coffers, but gaming executives argue that the tax would hurt marketing to the high rollers and discourage investment. McGreevey, in his budget book two months ago, said 'there is no logical reason for allowing a business to give away lodging without tax consequences.'
McGreevey spokesman Paul Aronsohn declined to comment on the governor's plans, but said: 'He recognizes that Atlantic City is an economic engine for the region and important for the state economy.'