NATIONAL GAMBLING IMPACT STUDY COMMISSION
Scott Ferguson, welcome.
MR. FERGUSON: Hi. I'm Scott Ferguson, Executive Director of the United Way of Atlantic County, and I appreciate the opportunity to address the Commission.
The United Way of Atlantic County raises money in a community-wide annual campaign. The majority of the money we raise comes through payroll deductions. We would not be successful without the cooperation and active participation of the CEOs of local companies and casinos.
During our most recent campaign we raised $2,672,000. The money is used to help fund over 50 health and human service programs and 30 local agencies, agencies that last year touched the lives of 125,000 Atlantic County residents.
The area casinos and their employees last year contributed over 53 percent of the total money raised. Because of the casino industry, over 40,000 people are able to work and make a living wage.
Nearly 20,000 casino employees contribute annually to the United Way of Atlantic County. Since the debut of gaming in Atlantic City, the United Way has raised over $40 million, money that has been used locally to not only improve the quality of our lives, but to insure that people in need get the services when they need them.
I estimate that without the support of the casino industry, we would have raised approximately only $10 million during that same time period.
I think it's also important to note that when I talk about 125,000 people, it's people that we know, we work with; it's people that are in this room.
It's our friends and our neighbors because each and every casino supports the efforts of the United Way of Atlantic County, we are able to fund vital community services, services like the Boys and Girls Club of Atlantic City, Salvation Army, the Red Cross, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and dozens of others.
The United Way is a volunteer driven organization. The casino industry encourages active community participation from their employees, and the United Way and many other nonprofit organizations benefit from their support.
The casino industry has impacted the quality of life for everyone in the area. In my opinion, the area would not be as successful as it is without the casinos.
Sure, there are problems and issues, but there are partnerships between the casinos, the United Way, other nonprofits, other businesses to work on them and address them.
I have been a United Way Executive Director for nine years, in two other states. I think it's important that you know I chose to move here. I saw outstanding community support from all the businesses, from the people, and from the casinos. I'm excited about the second wave. We're already working with these new casinos to see how we can address and make positive changes for our community.
The total economic and social impact of the casino industry in Atlantic County is enormous. As you go forward with your study, I encourage you to remember that whatever your findings may be, we are talking about the lives of people, people like you and me.
CHAIRMAN JAMES: Thank you.