Chris Brown

State Sen. Chris Brown, R-Atlantic, seen here at the June 28, 2018, opening of Ocean Casino Resort, sponsored a bill that would allow drug court graduates to be licensed for upper-level jobs in Atlantic City gambling parlors.

The state Senate approved a bill Thursday permitting graduates of drug court to be eligible for upper-level Atlantic City casino jobs that require a license from gaming regulators.

The action by state lawmakers would allow people who successfully complete the state’s Recovery Court program after being convicted of low-level drug offenses to apply for casino key employee licenses. The bill permits the Casino Control Commission to issue casino key employee licenses and the Division of Gaming Enforcement to issue casino employee registration to anyone who has been discharged from drug court.

Currently, people who have been convicted of drug offenses are not eligible to apply for casino employee licenses.

State Sen. Chris Brown, R-Atlantic, one of the bill’s sponsors, said the change will give people the opportunity to seek gainful employment in the region’s largest industry.

“Having attended interventions for those close to me fighting with substance abuse, I know firsthand how addiction attacks families throughout Atlantic County no matter their race, age or where they live,” Brown said. “If our families are to win their battles against substance abuse, and so we don’t lose an entire generation of young people to addiction, we have to assure them that while recovery won’t be easy, it will be worth it by providing real hope for their future with a second chance to live productive lives by opening doors to get jobs in our casino industry.”

The Senate passed the measure Thursday by a vote of 36-1. It moves to the desk of Gov. Phil Murphy, who must sign the bill to make it law before the current legislative session ends later this month.

“Individuals with a criminal record face countless barriers to housing, employment and public programs,” said state Sen. Sandra Cunningham, D-Hudson. “This legislation will remove one of those barriers and open the door for drug court graduates to explore a career in the casino industry beyond an entry-level position. As we work to improve reentry services in the state, I look forward to seeing how this bill helps individuals find meaningful employment.”

Assemblymen Vince Mazzeo and John Armato, both D-Atlantic, sponsored the companion bill in their legislative chamber, where it passed in November.

The casino industry has backed the effort as a means to both better support the community in which it operates and to broaden the available workforce.

Casino key employee jobs include managers of hotel operations, human resources, entertainment or food and beverages, directors of security, surveillance or marketing, and gaming floor supervisors.

Joe Jingoli, CEO of Joseph Jingoli and Son Inc. and one of the principals of Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City, has been a vocal advocate for the need to provide people in recovery with stable employment. In his experience, Jingoli said, people in recovery “make really good employees.”

Contact: 609-272-7222

Twitter @ACPressDanzis

Staff Writer

I cover Atlantic City government and the casino industry since joining The Press in early 2018. I formerly worked as a politics & government reporter for NJ Herald and received the First Amendment: Art Weissman Memorial NJPA Award two years in a row.

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