Atlantic City Mayor Marty Smalls has a problem with regulated sports betting in the United States. More specifically, Mayor Smalls has a problem with the amount of tax revenue his city receives from the newly regulated activity, which the Mayor says currently adds up to nothing.
In a series of recent interviews and announcements, Mayor Smalls has been telling anyone who will listen that Atlantic City is the reason why sports betting is legal in the United States. The original legal wranglings, which stretch back almost a decade now, were an effort to help boost failing AC casinos and generally boost the well-being of the once-charming seaside resort.
So far, only the first half of that equation has come to pass. Atlantic City casinos are currently pulling more sports betting revenue than their Las Vegas counterparts; a huge win for Atlantic City. But the City of Atlantic City isn’t doing quite as well. Smalls laid it all out at a recent meeting of the Atlantic City Taxpayer’s Association saying, “In 14 months, New Jersey has overtaken Las Vegas as the No. 1 sports betting destination, and a lot of it has to do with the success of Atlantic City, and a lot of it is online. But we don’t get one penny. Just think about that. That’s unacceptable.”
The money Smalls is referring to is the 1.25 percent of every sports wager that is collected by the State forthe Casino Reinvestment Development Authority. This fund was meant to promote casino marketing in Atlantic City, but is completely controlled by the State. Smalls says AC hasn’t seen a dime of this money and should be in control of at least some of the fund.
Of course the main reason why AC Mayors aren’t given access to the fund is that AC Mayors, with the exception of Smalls, don’t exactly have a great track record when it comes to avoiding corruption. Smalls’ predecessor resigned under a cloud of corruption allegations.
There is, however, a chance that Smalls could take control of the fund in 2021 when the State’s grip on it is up for review.