(TRENTON) — Senator Jim Whelan and Assemblyman John J. Burzichelli — the chairmen of the recently formed bipartisan gaming panel tasked with examining the future of gaming in New Jersey — Tuesday said recent comments from Moody’s Investors Service on the continued viability of Atlantic City’s 11 casinos brings the necessity of their upcoming efforts into stark relief.

“The failure of even one casino — let alone four — would have a tremendous impact on Atlantic City and a ripple effect across all of New Jersey,” said Whelan (D-Atlantic). “From the direct loss of jobs on down the economic ladder, it would be a blow of epic proportions. We need to act decisively with short- and long-term solutions to shore up Atlantic City’s future. And that’s what this summit aims to do.”

According to Moody’s, the recommendations in the report issued last week by the governor’s special gaming commission — headed by John Hanson — would come too late to prevent some of the state’s 11 casinos from closing. The legislators stressed that a thorough review of the Hanson Commission’s report might provide insight that could blunt the dire predictions of Moody’s.

“We know the Hanson Commission report left a lot of unanswered questions about the future of gaming in New Jersey,” said Burzichelli (D-Cumberland/Gloucester/Salem). “Now that we know what the stakes are, we will have a better idea of how to focus our efforts to ensure that our gaming, sports and horse racing industries continue to have a viable future, built around the strong backbone of Atlantic City.”

Whelan and Burzichelli had previously noted that the initial meeting of their panel, on Aug. 6, would focus on a review of the Hanson Commission’s work. From there, the panel will review, in greater detail, specific proposals and their impact on the casino, horse-racing and tourism industries in New Jersey.

The first meeting of the gaming summit is scheduled 10 a.m. Friday, August 6, at the Atlantic City Convention Center, Room 411, One Convention Boulevard, Atlantic City.