Jim Johnson

Special Counsel Jim Johnson testifies during a state Senate committee hearing in June to push for a review of existing casino regulations.

TRENTON — The governor's special counsel to Atlantic City testified Thursday in front of a state Senate committee to push for a re-examination of casino regulations to stave off another potential collapse of the anchor industry.

Jim Johnson, co-author of the state’s transition report on Atlantic City, told the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee that a review of existing casino regulations, specifically as they relate to the number of licenses issued and overall market capacity, may be needed to ensure the long-term stability of the industry.

David Rebuck, director of the state Division of Gaming Enforcement, and James Plousis, chairman of the Casino Control Commission, joined Johnson at Thursday's hearing.

Johnson told the Senate committee the state's efforts in Atlantic City to stabilize the resort's finances and improve the quality of life for residents could be undermined if the casino industry were to experience setbacks similar to those between 2014 and 2016, when five properties closed. The closings resulted in the loss of nearly 8,000 jobs and contributed to the region having one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country, he said.

Increased competition from nearby gaming jurisdictions — including Pennsylvania, Delaware and New York — cut into Atlantic City casino revenues beginning in 2007, and the industry spent nearly a decade attempting to recover. With gaming expansion in nearby states unlikely to stop, Johnson and others are concerned that any attempt to expand Atlantic City's market could have unintended negative consequences.

Atlantic City has nine operational casino hotel properties after Hard Rock Hotel & Casino and Ocean Casino Resort reopened shuttered Boardwalk gaming halls last summer.

Contact: 609-272-7222


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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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