“Lucky Leo” Whalen honored by New Jersey Amusement Association…


“Lucky Leo” Whalen was honored as the New Jersey Amusement Association’s Man of the Year on May 12, 2008.


The entire Whalen family, and the New Jersey Amusement Association family honored “Lucky Leo” Whalen, gaming industry legend since 1953


ONE OF HIS LAST AND MOST LONG-LASTING ACCOMPLISHMENTS Leo thanked part of his success to the late Seaside Heights Mayor J. Stanley Tunney, who was his first landlord, and a strong advocate and lobbyist for the creation of Legalized Games of Chance in New Jersey, Circa 1960.

“Lucky Leo” Whalen honored by New Jersey Amusement Association: Mr. “Lucky Leo” Whalen of Toms River and Florida, was recently given the highest honor possible by the New Jersey Amusement Association, its prestigious Person of the Year. Leo started in 1955 with just one stand. Working only summers at first, he had been a teacher when he began on the boardwalk, eventually leaving the field to game full time. (Mr. Whalen pointed out that Fritz Rolle, longtime active NJAA member, was once his 7th grade pupil.) Leo was introduced at the podium by son Steve, who currently operates the landmark Lucky Leo’s arcade and expansive gaming frontage at Hamilton Avenue and The Boardwalk in Seaside Heights with brother Tommy. In his acceptance speech, Leo first thanked his wife of 58 years, Barbara. Leo said that when he first opened, games of chance were not sanctioned and were illegal by the state, but the Borough issued a license for $100.00 anyway. In 1960, a bill was introduced in the New Jersey Legislature, creating the Legalized Games of Chance, a state sanctioned gaming permit. According to Leo’s story, the bill was passed by the efforts of all the concessionaires, but especially, the late Seaside Heights Mayor J. Stanley Tunney. Front that point forward, the license was $100 for the State, and $100 for the Borough. Upon finishing his speech, Leo was granted a standing ovation from the NJAA membership, which is a cross section of the industry statewide.

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