Joan Verplank.

MR. LEONARD: Yes, Madame Chairwoman. My name is Jim Leonard. I'm Vice President of Government Relations for the State Chamber. Unfortunately Joan was unable to be here this evening. So I'm going to be filling in in her place.


MR. LEONARD: I thank you all for the opportunity to be here today, this evening.

I appear before you on behalf of our board of directors and the over 1,300 members of the State Chamber of Commerce. I appreciate, as I said, the opportunity to speak on this important issue.

As a statewide organization with members in virtually every community, we look at the industry with an eye towards the impact felt by the entire state. It is with that focus that I appear before you this evening.

Our state has changed dramatically over the last 20 years since gaming has been implemented in our state. Fortunately the growth that our state has had and the benefits directly attributed from the gaming industry have gone hand in hand.

I'd like to point out just a few of the many benefits associated with this industry statewide. We're talking about over 49,000 jobs, 11,000 jobs specifically in Atlantic City; an annual wage and salary payroll of over $1 billion; and Atlantic City property taxes of over $149 million.

Like many statistics or like other statistics, people tend to gloss over these numbers because of their size and their enormity. So let me put some face to these specific numbers.

When you and your fellow Commissioners analyze the impact of gaming on our state, please take into consideration the thousands of senior citizens who receive medical assistance through a program we call PAAD or the Pharmaceutical Assistance for the Aged and Disabled.

This program, funded almost entirely through a tax on casino winnings, provides prescription drugs to income worthy seniors with only a $5 copay.

Please also consider the thousands of income eligible seniors who receive millions of dollars in energy credits through the Lifeline Program supported entire from the casino revenue fund. These credits allow many of our senior citizens to purchase electricity and natural gas to heat their homes and light their homes.

Please also consider the thousands of men and women throughout the state who are employed by the gaming industry and consider the over 3,000 businesses throughout the state who do $1.5 billion worth of business with the gaming industry. Businesses in every part of the state provide goods and services to this vital industry, benefits from Sussex County in the north all the way to Salem County in the south.

And also people consider the over 200,000 senior citizens whose property taxes will be frozen thanks to the gaming industry.

The State Chamber urges this Commission to make a full and fair study of legal gambling in the United States. Such a study has to give substantial emphasis to the powerful economic benefits associated by this industry.

I thank you for the opportunity to be here this evening and offer our continued assistance in your investigation.

Thank you very much.


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