The seasoned politician from New Jersey, Stephen Sweeney, was shockingly defeated in 2021 by political outsider Edward Durr. Sweeney is determined to make a political return in spite of this loss, focusing on the 2025 gubernatorial contest and hoping to become the Garden State’s leader. He had been the president of the New Jersey Senate, and his shocking loss made headlines around the country.
After being forced from office due to the upset, Sweeney assured the people of South Jersey that his political career was far from ended. In an attempt to replace Governor Phil Murphy, whose tenure is coming to an end, he has now formally announced his candidacy for governor in 2025. In a social media-shared video, Sweeney emphasized the importance of resilience and how mistakes are inevitable in life, but that New Jerseyans never give up and continue working. He reaffirmed his resolve to put the welfare of New Jersey’s seniors, working families, and children first, a stance he says he has maintained throughout his entire career.
Atlantic City’s Advocate: Sweeney’s Impact on Gaming Legislation
Beyond politics, Sweeney had a strong impact in Atlantic City, where he became a fervent supporter of the casino sector. During his term, there was opposition to a planned casino smoke-free law due to worries that the gaming industry would suffer and perhaps lose a significant number of jobs. He was instrumental in the creation of the PILOT (Payment in Lieu of Tax) law in 2016, a piece of legislation intended to reduce property taxes on the city’s casino resorts. These resorts agreed to pay a minimum of $120 million year as compensation. Following a string of casino closures between 2014 and 2016, which led to disagreements over property tax assessments and severely strained the finances of vital municipal services, this legislative action was taken.
The PILOT program uses the casinos’ yearly gross gaming revenue (GGR) to determine their tax obligation. Towards the end of his tenure, Sweeney proposed law changes that eliminated online sports betting and iGaming revenue from the GGR computation. This alteration was made with the intention of lessening the financial strain on casinos. The casinos countered that a large amount of the money made on internet platforms was split with independent companies like DraftKings, who had little to no physical presence in Atlantic City. This resulted in a compromise whereby the state guaranteed the entire amount of PILOT money that impacted communities would have received had online sportsbook revenue and iGaming revenue been included in the calculation.
Sweeney’s Role in Atlantic City’s Governance
Sweeney, a self-described moderate Democrat, has a history of working with Republicans, as demonstrated by his partnership with former governor Chris Christie. In 2016, they jointly started the state takeover of Atlantic City with the goal of bringing stability to the area following many casino closures. The state’s participation was initially expected to last five years, but the government was facing financial instability due to skyrocketing spending, rising taxes, and concerns with governance. Governor Murphy extended state authority of Atlantic City through at least 2025, so more than seven years later, the takeover is still in place.
While admitting some progress, Sweeney emphasized that the city still needs help and reiterated his continued commitment to solving Atlantic City’s problems. His political career has demonstrated a commitment to working across party lines and an unwavering determination to navigate the complicated issues impacting the state of New Jersey and its well-known coastal casino town.