Transitions are rarely seamless - particularly those involving something as complex as casino regulation or as difficult as creating an Atlantic City Tourism District. Still, the transition period following the Feb. 1 signing of the casino-deregulation and Tourism District bills has seemed particularly foggy when it comes to details.
The state Division of Gaming Enforcement announced just this week it has launched a website to publish all casino revenue figures, financial information and statistics - four days after a Press article in which lawmakers voiced concern whether the March figures would be available.
But it's still unclear how the DGE intends to make sure the numbers are accurate.
The Casino Control Commission's most recent February revenue numbers were the commission's last, since the recent legislation eliminated the commission's authority to audit most casino revenue, according to a CCC spokesman.
For the past 30 years, the CCC has used a painstaking process to ensure that casino revenue figures are audited and accurate. That's important because those figures are the basis for the state taxes casinos pay.
The CCC previously had round-the-clock inspectors in order to make sure the money was properly accounted for and secured. The deregulation bill ended that practice, and the inspectors were laid off. Those auditing and reporting functions are now supposed to be handled by the state DGE. Some of the commission's auditors have been hired by the DGE, but it's unclear what the process will be and how revenues will be handled to make sure the state - the public - gets its proper share.
This isn't the only loose end dangling during this transition period.
The Casino Reinvestment Development Authority is charged with drawing up the official borders of the Tourism District, as well as running that district, which will involve a long list of new responsibilities. Yet the CRDA still has no permanent executive director. It is still unclear which governmental entities will be responsible for what functions within the district, and how those functions are funded. The money that casinos were supposed to save from deregulation - money that was supposed to go toward marketing and infrastructure improvements in the district - has turned out to be less than expected.
As we said, transitions rarely go smoothly, and this is a particularly complex and difficult one. But it's important that the details get worked out soon.