Atlantic City casinos by law are required to direct 1.25% of their gross gaming revenue to the New Jersey Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA).
The CRDA is to use the gaming money to help fund projects and events that act “as a catalyst for meaningful, positive change” in Atlantic City. The governmental agency’s ultimate goal is to improve the quality of life throughout the casino beach town.
The CRDA recently announced numerous funding allocations. One recipient is the Jewish Family Service of Atlantic County. The nonprofit is receiving $685,000 in CRDA funds to support outpatient counseling services for Atlantic City residents. The money will be used over the next three years to provide mental health support for those in need.
The multi-year grant will fund much-needed health services, particularly in light of many unmet needs during the pandemic,” said CRDA Executive Director Sean Pattwell.
JFS officials explain that the pandemic greatly escalated the need for more mental health resources. The organization says depression increased 87% during the final three months of 2021, while post-traumatic stress disorder increased 54% and the risk of addiction increased 80% among men.
JFS isn’t the only nonprofit to receive a recent CRDA allocation. The casino authority approved an 18-month contract with Masterpiece Advertising, an Atlantic City-based marketing firm, for up to $1.125 million for advertising services.
The CRDA also signed off on a $116,000 contract with CTM Media Group — a Pennsylvania-based marketing group that specializes in visitor and tourism information — to produce and distribute the 2023 Atlantic City Visitor Map and Atlantic City Restaurant Week program.
The CRDA additionally authorized $200,000 for the Chicken Bone Beach Historical Foundation to put on 10 jazz concerts over the next three years, $50,000 to the Jewish Community Center, and $280,000 to JudiLudi Productions to produce a show at Kennedy Plaza titled “Broadway on the Boardwalk.”
The National Rhythm and Blues Music Society received nearly $190,000 to orchestrate three summer concerts at Gardner’s Basin, while Atlantic City’s 2022 Summer Concert Series titled “Mardi Gras AC” received $186,200.
Still flush with cash, the CRDA also announced that the newly formed Ernest Trans School of Trucking will collect a $75,000 grant that will cover tuition costs for 15 students. The casino agency is also providing the school with a low-interest $210,000 loan to purchase three truck cabs and trailers.
Set to open next month, the truck school was the lone bidder to establish such a training program on the grounds of the city-owned Bader Field, a former executive airport that ceased air operations in 2006.
Bill to Redirect CRDA Funds Stalls
There are many CRDA critics in Atlantic City who believe the 1.25% gaming tax money would be better used by going to city residents and helping reduce property taxes.
In March, Sen. Troy Singleton (D-Moorestown) introduced Senate Bill 854. The legislation would redirect the 1.25% sports betting tax from the CRDA to the City of Atlantic City.
Singleton’s bill narrowly passed the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee 3-2 in March, but has since stalled in the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism, and Historic Preservation Committee. New Jersey’s Office of Legislative Services says the bill, if passed and signed by Gov. Phil Murphy (D), would provide Atlantic City with $2 million to $4 million a year in local property tax relief.
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