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Atlantic City losing 2 casinos, 5K jobs in 3 days


By WAYNE PARRY

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) - A time few could imagine during the not-too-distant glory days of casino gambling has arrived in Atlantic City, where two casinos will close this weekend and a third will shut down in two weeks.

More than 5,000 workers will lose their jobs in an unprecedented weekend in the seaside gambling resort, leaving many feeling betrayed by a system that once promised stable, well-paying jobs.

The Showboat is closing Sunday, followed by Revel on Monday and Tuesday. Trump Plaza is next, closing Sept. 16. To the thousands who will be left behind, it still seems unreal.

"We never thought this would happen," said Chris Ireland, who has been a bartender at the Showboat since it opened. His wife works there, too, as a cocktail server. Before dinnertime Sunday, neither will have a job.

What makes it even tougher to swallow is that the Showboat - one of four Atlantic City casinos owned by Caesars Entertainment - is still turning a profit. But the company says it is closing Showboat to help reduce the total number of casinos in Atlantic City. Caesars also teamed with Tropicana Entertainment to buy the Atlantic Club last December and close it in January.

Atlantic City Is Loosing Big This Labor Day Weekend

"They just want to eliminate competition," Ireland said. "Everyone's in favor of a free market until it doesn't exactly work for them."

Yet many analysts and casino executives say the painful contraction now shrinking Atlantic City's casino market is exactly what the city needs to survive. Since 2006, Atlantic City's casino revenue has fallen from $5.2 billion to $2.86 billion last year, and it will fall further this year. Atlantic City will end the year with eight casinos after beginning the year with 12.

New casinos popping up in an already saturated Northeastern U.S. gambling market aren't expanding the overall pie but are slicing it into ever-smaller pieces. Fewer casinos could mean better financial performance for the survivors.

Resorts Casino Hotel, which was on the verge of closing a few years ago, completed a remarkable turnaround in the second quarter of this year, swinging from a $1.3 million loss last year to a $1.9 million profit this year.

"I truly believe that eight remaining casinos can all do very well when the gambling market is right-sized," said Resorts president Mark Giannantonio.

That may be true, but it is little comfort to workers who are losing their jobs. By the time Trump Plaza shuts down in two weeks, nearly 8,000 jobs - or a quarter of Atlantic City's casino workforce - will be unemployed. A mass unemployment filing due to begin Wednesday is so large it has been booked into the city's convention center.

When casino gambling was approved by New Jersey voters in 1976, it was billed as a way to revitalize Atlantic City and provide stable, lasting jobs. The first casino, Resorts, opened in 1978, kicking off three decades of soaring revenue and employment.

But the Great Recession hit just as new casinos were popping up in neighboring Pennsylvania and New York, cutting deeply into Atlantic City's customer base.

"There was a promise when casinos came in here that these would be good, viable jobs, something you could raise your family on and have a decent life with," said Paul Smith, a cook at the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort. "I feel so bad for all these people losing their jobs. It wasn't supposed to be like this."

Mayor Don Guardian says his city is remaking itself as a more multifaceted destination, where gambling is only part of the allure. But he acknowledges the pain this weekend will bring.

"This is going to be a difficult few weeks for many of us in Atlantic City," he said. "People will lose their jobs, and that is never good news. Our hearts go out to our neighbors and friends. We still have difficult waters to navigate."

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justworkinggirl August 30 2014 at 11:11 AM

The problem is with casinos popping up everywhere, people no longer need to fly to Atlantic City or Vegas to gamble. Now for most people, a short drive in just about any direction will get you to a casino somewhere in your own backyard.

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22 replies
blaisp August 30 2014 at 11:25 AM

More jobs lost? Eeeh, who cares, we NEED to take care of all the illegals pouring over the border! Right? That's Obama's main focus. Hope and Change!!!!

Flag Reply +102 rate up
31 replies
jltjt9 August 30 2014 at 11:33 AM

This is nothing. Obamacare will eventually cost America a ton of full time jobs and create part time jobs in their place so they can dodge Obamacare.

It is only a matter of time.

Then we will have a tremendous influx of illegal aliens who work for little replacing American workers and this will happen faster if and when Obama gives amnesty and makes those who are already here, estimated at 30 to 50 million already.
Saying to the rest of the world. No reason to do things legally, just come in through Mexico and eventually, you will become American.

Yes, as the Mexican President said yesterday, America, the other Mexico.

Now Mr. President, what was that you said about helping the middle class?

All I see are more entitlements for more illegal's and higher taxes for the working class and a destruction of the Middle Class.

Oh and yes, they will all be entitled to welfare and that is a fact which no intelligent man, woman or child can deny.

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49 replies
posthuf August 30 2014 at 11:53 AM

>"Lasting effects of the recession"<

But...but...but...

We've been in 'recovery' for more than 5 years now.

msnbc, abc, cbs, nbc, obama, reid, pelosi, all the libs and democrats tell us so!

Flag Reply +99 rate up
22 replies
mksrs August 30 2014 at 11:56 AM

Kind of puts a snafu on the governments unemployed figures, but I'm sure they will have a way to make it look like they are creating jobs.

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11 replies
wreinhart August 30 2014 at 11:20 AM

Using gambling to solve an economic problem is like using heroin to solve an oxycontin addiiction.

Flag Reply +99 rate up
23 replies
z5catman August 30 2014 at 12:00 PM

Ooops,, Obama will have to juggle the "Recovery" statistics again.

Flag Reply +92 rate up
10 replies
Hello Bob August 30 2014 at 11:27 AM

Atlantic City was a hell hole before the casinos arrived and really did not change all that much for the better after they arrived. Years ago I made my first and absolute last visit to the ocean side ghetto. Atlantic City dying is no big deal.

Flag Reply +50 rate up
12 replies
Me August 30 2014 at 11:36 AM

With Indian casinos popping up in every town and neighborhood across the country, I'm not surprised that Atlantic City and soon Las Vegas will begin to have greater difficulties. I have difficulty with the fact that one culture/race/group have greater rights than other natural born citizens.

Flag Reply +47 rate up
22 replies
tbmuch August 30 2014 at 11:13 AM

Hey! It was a gamble.

Flag Reply +28 rate up
2 replies
ezspin42 tbmuch August 30 2014 at 12:33 PM

wanna bet? lol

Flag Reply +1 rate up
riverboy19 tbmuch August 30 2014 at 6:55 PM

nice, i will smoke a joint to your comment, thank you.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
1 reply
s5cat2dog riverboy19 September 09 2014 at 6:52 PM

But don't let anyone dare smoke a cigarette. riverboy. I don't like your type.

Flag 0 rate up
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