James T. Plousis

James T. Plousis testifies before the state Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday in Trenton. The Senate approved Plousis to chair the Casino Control Commission.

Shanna O'Mara / Staff Writer

TRENTON — James T. Plousis, the former Cape May County sheriff, will lead the Casino Control Commission for the next five years as Atlantic City’s gaming market continues to rebound following the closing of five casinos since 2014.

The state Senate approved Gov. Chris Christie’s nomination Thursday. Plousis will replace Matthew Levinson, son of Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson, in the $141,000-a-year position.

Plousis said during his nomination hearing that the primary goal of the commission is “to uphold the integrity of the gaming industry.”

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“I’ve been reading the annual reports of the Casino Control Commission, and they do some forecast where they (show) where the competition is, so we do some analysis of what is happening around the country,” said Plousis, who has served on the state Parole Board for the past seven years.

Plousis said he will take a regional approach to expanding the business by trying to attract vacationers from neighboring Cape May County.

“I’ve had a number of mayors who have already called me saying, ‘We’re looking for cooperation, not competition with Atlantic City,’” he said.

Dennis Levinson has claimed the reason his son was not reappointed was because Atlantic County is suing the state over its share of the payments-in-lieu-of-taxes, or PILOT, plan Atlantic City casinos are locked into for 10 years. Matthew Levinson was renominated by the late Sen. Jim Whelan in February, but he never got a hearing in the Senate and was not reappointed by Christie. Levinson’s term as chairman expired in August, but he has remained on while a new chairman is appointed.

During Plousis’ hearing in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Joseph Kyrillos, R-Monmouth, recognized Matthew Levinson for his work during his tenure and assured the committee Plousis is qualified and a right fit for the job.

“He follows a good man, his predecessor Matt Levinson,” Kyrillos said. “(Levinson) is a well-respected, well-regarded guy and a good friend of mine. We will miss him, but this nominee will do an outstanding job.”

The commission, described as somewhat of a judicial panel, has up to three members appointed by the governor and is in charge of licensing New Jersey casinos and their key employees.

The members serve five-year terms and can only be removed for cause. By law, no more than two commissioners can be of the same political party, according to the commission’s website.

The commission is scheduled to meet at 10:30 a.m. Dec. 19.

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Contact: 609-272-7046 nhuba@pressofac.com Twitter @acpresshuba

Started working in newsrooms when I was 17 years old. Spent 15 years working for Gannett New Jersey before coming to The Press of Atlantic City in April 2015.

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