Atlantic City ‘A-list’ entertainment bill advanced by Senate panel

Andrew George//March 15, 2016

Atlantic City ‘A-list’ entertainment bill advanced by Senate panel

Andrew George//March 15, 2016

A bill that’s designed to drive “A-list” entertainment acts to Atlantic City was approved Monday by the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee.Under the legislation, which is sponsored by state Sen. Tom Kean (R-Westfield), qualified entertainers who hold performances on at least four scheduled dates in the city’s tourism district in a calendar year would be eligible to receive a state tax credit.

The credits would also apply to all income earned at scheduled performances at New Jersey venues across the state.

Kean says the bill would help New Jersey compete with states that have little or no income tax like Florida, Tennessee, Texas and Nevada.

“Top bands that can sell out shows and earn tax-free income in Las Vegas or Miami have little incentive to play in Atlantic City or subject themselves to New Jersey’s high tax rates,” Kean said. “We should not forget that we generate no tax revenue from empty venues when performers skip New Jersey.”

In order to qualify for a tax credit, entertainers must meet a number of criteria set by the New Jersey Department of State that includes ticket sales, record sales and awards. The application process would be administered by the State Division of Taxation.

Kean has previously pointed to Atlantic City’s widely popular summer beach concerts over the last few years as examples for why the bill is needed to consistently draw large crowds.

“When popular bands visit Atlantic City, they draw huge crowds that buy concert tickets, eat at city restaurants, stay in local hotels and spend money shopping and gambling at casinos,” said Kean. “That surge of economic activity that accompanies A-List performers is exactly what Atlantic City needs to survive and thrive.”

Kean’s bill wasn’t the only one approved Monday that may have an impact on Atlantic City as the state Legislature also voted to put the question of casino expansion on the November ballot and the Senate further advanced a state takeover measure.

But New Jersey Policy Perspective president Gordon MacInnes said that the legislation represents just another misguided attempt to boost tourism.

“It’s like the encore no one asked for,” said MacInnes. “This proposal was widely panned the first time around, including by casino operators. And for good reason: It wouldn’t do a lick to bring more dollars to Atlantic City, but could do a whole lot of harm to the state’s ability to invest in the critical public services that help make New Jersey a great place to live, work, do business and enjoy live entertainment.”