ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) – New Jersey has sent layoff notices to 115 of its 144 casino inspectors whose jobs are being eliminated under a casino deregulation bill signed into law by Gov. Chris Christie.
Additional layoffs to other inspectors at Casino Control Commission are likely in coming weeks.
The bill is part of an Atlantic City rescue package signed Tuesday by Christie. It aims to save the casinos millions of dollars that will be used to help market the nation’s second-largest gambling resort.
Part of the savings is to be achieved by eliminating many of the functions of the casino commission and transferring them to the state Division of Gaming Enforcement. The division is part of the state Attorney General’s Office, which already has some of its own inspectors.
“We have had discussions with the Division of Gaming Enforcement regarding the implementation of this new statute,” said Dan Heneghan, a spokesman for the casino commission. “As additional functions are transferred, we will reassess our staffing requirements.”
The layoff notices were sent out on Wednesday, just 24 hours after Christie signed the deregulation bill.
The most visible impact of the cuts to gamblers will be the absence of Casino Control Commission inspectors on the casino floor. For more than 30 years, the inspectors have been a presence on gambling floors throughout Atlantic City, available to respond immediately to patron complaints.
Now, the gaming enforcement division is responsible for fielding those complaints in one of two ways. Gamblers who feel they have been wronged in some way can call a phone number in Trenton, or fill out a form that will be provided to them at the casino.
In signing the bill Tuesday, Christie said New Jersey’s casino regulatory system worked extremely well when it was adopted in the 1970s; the first casino outside Nevada, Resorts Casino Hotel, opened in 1978.
But he said those regulations are outdated, and the casinos themselves have complained about the expense of having to fund many of the mandates, including round-the-clock inspectors at each of the 11 gambling halls.
The changes bring New Jersey into line with casino regulations in other states, Christie said.
It does away with minimum staffing levels set by the state for casino security officers, surveillance personnel and supervisors like pit bosses.
The layoffs take effect March 25.
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