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Second chances: Bill would give former addicts chance to move up in casino industry

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New Jersey lawmakers are considering a bill that would give those who've struggled with drug addiction a chance to move up in the casino industry if it were to become a law.

Passing through the state Assembly and the Senate, the bill would give those who successfully complete drug court a chance to obtain a casino key license from the state.

“People who are dedicated in their treatment and recovery do deserve that second chance like anyone else has,” says Christine Carey, program director for Unity Place, a group that helps those struggling with addiction and mental health issues.

A casino key license allows a person to hold higher-up managerial positions within a casino. Carey says that it would be a sign of hope.

"Since we're so close and there's so many opportunities available, there are a lot of people that are employed in the gaming industry and Atlantic City,” she says.

“My experience with the casino workers is that they are very limited in what they can do, and some of these people are brilliant people. They might've had careers before their addiction, education before their addiction and now with their legal issues, they're not able to live up to their full potential,” says Unity Place assistant program director Laurie Engel.

Engel says that she is confident these drug court graduates can hold these casino positions after spending years working on their recovery.

"It's a very long commitment for drug court people. They can move through faster if they complete their goals but it is very hard. This is not an overnight thing for them, so by the time they graduate there is a long period of stability,” she says.

Atlantic County Republican state Sen. Chris Brown sponsored the bill. It will now head to the governor’s desk for his signature.

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