Audit Finds New Jersey Gaming Regulators Waste Public Funds on the Car Fleet

An audit of the Division of Gaming Enforcement and Casino Control Commission shows New Jersey gaming regulators misused state-owned cars. The audit found, 77% of the time, employees who used the agency’s 109 cars commuted to and from work in them. Using cars for personal use is against state policies.

The audit found that the DGE underuses a 64,000 square-foot building which was provided to it by the state. The state auditor reported these findings to Gov. Chris Christie and the leaders of the state legislature this past week, according to regulations.

Call for 45% Reduction in Car Fleet

The report found the state could save $1 million a year by reducing the DGE’s fleet by 50 cars which are provided to employees. The state also could save an additional $300,000 a year on the gas used to power those vehicles.

Under government policy, employees of the state gaming agency can commute to and from work with their state-issued cars. They cannot do so when commuting is the primary use of the vehicle, which often was found to be the case.

Employees Keep Faulty Records

The study found that DGE employees and Casino Control Commission agents did not take agency policies seriously. The report found that “all entries” by employees who use cars are “either vague or left blank”.

In 22 cases, entries were made when a worker was taking a full day of leave. Also, many cases appeared to have been improperly completed at the time of use, but instead filled-out at the end of the month.

Reaction by Rebuck and Levinson

DGE Director David Rebuck and Casino Control Commissioner Matthew Levinson did not dispute the findings of the state auditor. In fact, the two stated in March 2015 that the agency’s fleet should be reduced. They also noted that a new handbook had been issued to employees to remind them of the state’s policies and help with retraining.

Kerry Langan mentioned that, four months later, the division has retrained all employees, so they know how to record their car usage and commuting mileage. The division also “will continue to adjust” how many cars they use, though no official said how large the fleet would be in the near-future.

Tennessee Ave. Building Suggestions

The state auditor found that the DGE’s buildings on Tennessee Avenue and Boardwalk Avenue could be more efficiently used. The Division of Gaming Enforcement has lost 26% of its workforce since 2012, but the same amount of office space continues to be used. In this case, the auditor simply suggests better organization.

The Commission’s spokesman, Dan Heneghan, said the agency had met last week with the State Treasury to decide how better to use buildings in the use of regulators. Bureaucrats for several other agencies have moved into the empty office space, including employees of the Division of Criminal Justice, the Atlantic City Task Force, the Department of Community Affairs, and the Division of Civil Rights.

Talks to Expand Gambling

The findings come at a time when New Jersey lawmakers are trying to decide whether to expand gambling to other parts of the state. An increasing percentage of business and political leaders appear to favor the development of one or more North Jersey casinos, which would end Atlantic City’s four-decade monopoly on casino gambling in the state.

Those same lawmakers last month passed a PILOT bill which allows the Atlantic City casino industry to keep more of its revenues, while avoiding the yearly appeals process which takes time and money from the state funds. Meanwhile, New Jersey’s newspaper have printed op-ed pieces in the past year or two wondering if the gambling industry has a future in the state.

DGE Needs to Control Waste

Under the circumstances, having a Division of Gaming Enforcement and Casino Control Commission cost the state an additional $1.3 million a year is misused resources could be seen as a political liability. While support for the gambling industry remains strong overall, the electorate has no patience for waste when already being asked to contribute more to the gaming industry.

About Cliff Spiller

Cliff Spiller has been an online writer for 14 years. He worked for Small World Marketing for a decade, where he covered topics like gaming, sports, movies, and how-to guides. Since 2014, he has blogged about US and international gambling news on BestOnlineCasinos.com, USPokerSites.com, and LegalUSPokerSites.com

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