Mary Jo Pierce, welcome.

MS. PIERCE: Hi. My name is Mary Jo Pierce. Good evening, members of the --

CHAIRMAN JAMES: Mary Jo, I'm going to ask you to pull that mike really close and speak really loudly so they can hear you in the back.

MS. PIERCE: Okay. My name is Mary Jo Pierce. Good evening, members of the Commission, and thank you for the opportunity to speak with you today.

In June 1983, after leaving an abusive relationship and going through a nasty divorce, my parents convinced me to move to Atlantic City, New Jersey. Both of them, plus three other family members worked for Harrah's Casino, and they were absolutely certain that I could start over, too, if I could get a job at Harrah's.

So my two children, ages ten and seven, and I drove from San Diego, California, and arrived in Atlantic City on July 3rd to start our new life.

My parents lived in a nearby community, and since I had absolutely no money, we moved in with them. Instead of going on welfare or living off of my parents, I was able to obtain employment at Harrah's as a secretary.

Within two months, I was able to rent a house and share household expenses with my sister and her family. I saved and saved and even bought the kids' clothes at a thrift store.

Within a year I was able to save enough money to rent with the option to buy a small, three bedroom house for myself and the children, and eventually I did buy this home.

I share this story with you today because I'm quite confident that I would not be able to have made this new start in life if I had not found the opportunities that casino employment offered me.

Even though we lived paycheck to paycheck, we were happy, and life went on fairly secure until the time came when we had to decide on college for my oldest child. I had no college fund. No help was offered by his father, and I was unsure of my options.

Then I saw a posting on our company bulletin board which stated that the corporation who then owned Harrah's, Promise Companies, Incorporated, was offering scholarships to high school seniors with the need and desire to go to college.

Again, Harrah's was there for me. My son was awarded a four-year scholarship to a local college and graduated in 1995 as the class valedictorian and is currently a third year law student at Rutgers University, and his career goal is to become a judge.

Once, again, this would not have been possible if I had not been employed by Harrah's, a casino.

Now my daughter is currently furthering her education by attending the Atlantic County Vocational School to be a medical assistant. She's a single mother of a two year old and worked at Harrah's for the past two years in the box office.

Her supervisor encouraged her to further her education, even though it meant losing a valuable employee.

From my perspective, Harrah's and the casino industry deserves a big pat on the back for giving people the opportunity to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and for developing the future of our young people.

I am a strong believer in Harrah's and in the casino industry, and from my experiences, I'm sure you can understand why.

Thanks for your time.

CHAIRMAN JAMES: And thank you.

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