Atlantic City skyline

Tilman Fertitta has reportedly purchased $4 million in shares of Caesars casinos.

A bill that would open more doors to casino employment for people in addiction recovery got one step closer to becoming law Monday after the Senate voted to pass it with overwhelming support.

Sen. Chris Brown, R-Atlantic, and Sen. Jeff Van Drew, D-Cape May, Cumberland, Atlantic, have spearheaded efforts to make people recovering from addiction eligible to work in casinos when they may have previously been denied positions because of criminal records with drug-related offenses.

Current law states that someone convicted of certain drug offenses is unable to get a casino key employee license, which is needed to work in casinos.

Some people convicted of these crimes are able to participate in special probation programs like drug court, which was renamed recovery court in Atlantic and Cape May counties.

There are about 6,552 people currently in the program statewide, and more than 5,400 graduates, according to state data. Program coordinators cite that 95 percent of drug tests administered each month come back negative. 

Advocates argue that people who are complying with the program and succeeding in recovery should get a second chance to work in the casinos by being eligible for the licenses.

Brown said creating job opportunities and allowing those who complete recovery court the ability to work in the casino industry, one of the largest employers in South Jersey, is a way for communities to support people in long-term recovery.

The bipartisan bill would allow the state Casino Control Commission to issue a casino employee license and the state Division of Gaming Enforcement to issue a casino employee registration to any applicant who has successfully completed a term of special probation, or recovery court.

“The entire Jersey Shore suffers from the opioid epidemic,” Van Drew said in a statement. “By allowing certain victims of the drug scourge to find employment in the city’s casinos, the bill would help people break out of the cycle of addiction and crime.”

Brown said he got the idea after meeting with South Jersey developer Joe Jingoli, a partner in Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City, who told the senator he wanted to see people in recovery get a second chance.

The bill coincides with the creation of a jobs program for recovery court graduates this summer that includes a partnership among several Atlantic City casinos, Stockton University, AtlantiCare and other organizations and businesses.

The bill heads to the Assembly for further consideration.

Contact: 609-272-7022 NLeonard@pressofac.com Twitter @ACPressNLeonard

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