Another Atlantic City bust: Trump Plaza closes early Tuesday

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Another Atlantic City bust: Trump Plaza closes early Tuesday
Real estate magnate Donald Trump and his girlfriend Marla Maples are seen at the Holyfield-Foreman fight at Trump Plaza in Atlantic City, N.J., April 19, 1991. (AP Photo)
Three women are pushed down the boardwalk in a pushcart outside of Trump Plaza Casino September 15, 2014 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The Trump Plaza, which opened on May 14, 1984, shut down September 16, 2014, the fourth casino to shutter its doors this year, and a fifth casino, the Trump Taj Mahal, may close if it cannot cut costs of operation. The massive contraction, following years of customer losses to surrounding states, is eliminating 8,000 jobs, or about a quarter of the industry's employment in Atlantic City. AFP PHOTO/Don Emmert (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
Boxer Mike Tyson gets a hug from model Marla Maples in Atlantic City, N.J., Sept. 23, 1990, during a "Get Well Soon" party at the Trump Plaza Casino Hotel. Tyson, who was scheduled to fight that night was forced to postpone after he cut his head during a training session back in August. Maples attended the party with host Donald Trump. At right is boxing promoter Don King. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Ivana Trump and Donald Trump during Mike Tyson vs Michael Spinks Fight at Trump Plaza - June 27, 1988 at Trump Plaza in Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
People walk on the boardwalk near the Trump Plaza Casino September 15, 2014 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The Trump Plaza, which opened on May 14, 1984, shut down September 16, 2014, the fourth casino to shutter its doors this year, and a fifth casino, the Trump Taj Mahal, may close if it cannot cut costs of operation. The massive contraction, following years of customer losses to surrounding states, is eliminating 8,000 jobs, or about a quarter of the industry's employment in Atlantic City. AFP PHOTO/Don Emmert (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
The sun sets behind the Trump Plaza Casino(R) September 15, 2014 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The Trump Plaza, which opened on May 14, 1984, shut down September 16, the fourth casino to shutter its doors this year, and a fifth casino, the Trump Taj Mahal, may close if it cannot cut costs of operation. The massive contraction, following years of customer losses to surrounding states, is eliminating 8,000 jobs, or about a quarter of the industry's employment in Atlantic City. AFP PHOTO/Don Emmert (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
People enjoy the beach in front of casinos along the boardwalk September 15, 2014 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The Trump Plaza, which opened on May 14, 1984, shut down September 16, the fourth casino to shutter its doors this year, and a fifth casino, the Trump Taj Mahal, may close if it cannot cut costs of operation. The massive contraction, following years of customer losses to surrounding states, is eliminating 8,000 jobs, or about a quarter of the industry's employment in Atlantic City. AFP PHOTO/Don Emmert (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
ATLANTIC CITY, NJ - JULY 29: The Trump Plaza ,which is scheduled to close, is viewed in Atlantic City on July 29, 2014 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Since January of 2014, four of Atlantic City's 11 casinos have announced plans to close, gone bankrupt or closed leaving thousands of residents without jobs. As neighboring cities open gambling businesses, fewer people are traveling to Atlantic City for visits to casinos. Since 2006 Casino revenue in Atlantic City has fallen from $5.6 billion to $2.86 billion. Experts believe this is the biggest crisis Atlantic City has faced in its 36 year relationship with gambling. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
ATLANTIC CITY, NJ - JULY 29: The Trump Plaza ,which is scheduled to close, is viewed in Atlantic City on July 29, 2014 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Since January of 2014, four of Atlantic City's 11 casinos have announced plans to close, gone bankrupt or closed leaving thousands of residents without jobs. As neighboring cities open gambling businesses, fewer people are traveling to Atlantic City for visits to casinos. Since 2006 Casino revenue in Atlantic City has fallen from $5.6 billion to $2.86 billion. Experts believe this is the biggest crisis Atlantic City has faced in its 36 year relationship with gambling. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
ATLANTIC CITY, NJ - JULY 29: The Trump Plaza ,which is scheduled to close, is viewed in Atlantic City on July 29, 2014 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Since January of 2014, four of Atlantic City's 11 casinos have announced plans to close, gone bankrupt or closed leaving thousands of residents without jobs. As neighboring cities open gambling businesses, fewer people are traveling to Atlantic City for visits to casinos. Since 2006 Casino revenue in Atlantic City has fallen from $5.6 billion to $2.86 billion. Experts believe this is the biggest crisis Atlantic City has faced in its 36 year relationship with gambling. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
The Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino stands in Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S., on Thursday, July 17, 2014. Once the East Coast's gambling hub, Atlantic City has suffered as casinos opened in neighboring states including Pennsylvania and New York after they legalized gambling or expanded betting to increase tax revenue. Photographer: Ron Antonelli/Bloomberg via Getty Images
ATLANTIC CITY, NJ - SEPTEMBER 3: A bird's nest sits in the center of the Trump Plaza sign on September 3, 2014 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The Trump Plaza is slated to close its doors for good on September 16, 2014. Four of the twelve casinos with which Atlantic City started the year will have closed by the middle of September, putting almost 8,000 people total out of work. (Photo by Jessica Kourkounis/Getty Images)
Ruth Hardrick, a dealer who worked at Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino for 26 years, stands with friend, Anthony Powell, on The Boardwalk, as she answers a question after the casino closed early Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014, in Atlantic City, N.J. Trump Plaza is the fourth Atlantic City casino to go belly-up so far this year. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
Jerry Birl, a casino memorabilia collector from Millsboro, Del., displays a gaming voucher issued six seconds before the Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino casino closed down Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014, in Atlantic City, N.J. Trump Plaza is the fourth Atlantic City casino to go belly-up so far this year. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
In this Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2010 photograph, the Trump Plaza Hotel Casino is seen in Atlantic City, N.J. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
In this Wednesday, July 23, 2014 photograph, people walk on The Boardwalk past Trump Plaza Hotel Casino in Atlantic City, N.J. On Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014, Trump Entertainment Resorts filed for bankruptcy and threatened to shut down the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort in November. The company owns Trump Plaza, which is closing in a week, and the Taj Mahal, which has been experiencing cash-flow problems and had been trying to stave off a default with its lenders. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
In this Wednesday, July 23, 2014 photograph, a man rests in the shade outside Trump Plaza Hotel Casino in Atlantic City, N.J. Trump Entertainment Resorts filed for bankruptcy Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014, and threatened to shut down the Taj Mahal Casino Resort in November. The company owns Trump Plaza, which is closing in a week, and the Taj Mahal, which has been experiencing cash-flow problems and had been trying to stave off a default with its lenders. It’s the fourth such filing for the struggling casino company or its corporate predecessors. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
A sign seen early in the morning Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014, announces the closing of Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City, N.J. Trump Plaza's closing is the fourth Atlantic City casino to go out of business so far this year. About 8,000 Atlantic City casino workers have lost their jobs this year, and another 3,000 could join them if Trump Plaza's parent company makes good on its threat to shutter the Trump Taj Mahal Casino resort in November. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
This Sept. 10, 2014, photo shows burned-out lights in the illuminated facade of Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City, N.J. Trump Plaza is closing on Sept. 16, 2014, the fourth Atlantic City casino to go out of business so far this year. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 28: The Trump Plaza casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey, is pictured on Saturday, February 28, 2004. Donald Trump's casino company has lost money for eight consecutive years. (Photo by Emile Wamsteker/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Donald Trump and Christine Whitman during Opening of New Warner Bros. Store in Trump Plaza Casino at Trump Plaza Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
ATLANTIC CITY, NJ - JULY 29: The Trump Plaza ,which is scheduled to close, is viewed in Atlantic City on July 29, 2014 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Since January of 2014, four of Atlantic City's 11 casinos have announced plans to close, gone bankrupt or closed leaving thousands of residents without jobs. As neighboring cities open gambling businesses, fewer people are traveling to Atlantic City for visits to casinos. Since 2006 Casino revenue in Atlantic City has fallen from $5.6 billion to $2.86 billion. Experts believe this is the biggest crisis Atlantic City has faced in its 36 year relationship with gambling. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Ivana Trump, Cindy Adams and Donald Trump during Mike Tyson vs Michael Spinks Fight at Trump Plaza - June 27, 1988 at Trump Plaza in Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino towers over Vera Coking's three story rooming house Wednesday, July 23, 2014, in Atlantic City, N.J. The decrepit boarding home owned by the Atlantic City woman who has been turning down multi-million dollar offers for the building in the shadow of Trump Plaza since the 80’s is now up for auction. With a reserve price of only $199,000, the fate of the house has gone down along with the city’s casino industry. On July 31, the property, at 127 South Columbia Place, will go up for auction. As recently as eight years ago, Donald Trump was willing to pay at least 10 times that amount so he could expand Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
FILE - In this Wednesday, Feb. 29, 2012, file photo, the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino and Caesars Atlantic City Hotel and Casino, left back, are seen in Atlantic City, N.J. Trump Plaza, the Boardwalk centerpiece of Donald Trump's one-time Atlantic City empire, was sold Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013, to a California company for $20 million in the cheapest of a series of bargain-basement deals for distressed (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
ATLANTIC CITY - MARCH 14: A sign on a taxi cab touts the Trump Plaza outside the Trump Taj Mahal March 14, 2007 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc. have hired an investment firm to explore the possible sale of the Trump Hotel and Casinos in Atlantic City. (Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)
Guest, Al D'amato, and Donald Trump during Mike Tyson vs Carl Williams - July 21, 1989 at Trump Plaza in Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella/Getty Images)
FILE In this Wednesday, July 23, 2014 file photograph, the Trump Plaza is seen in Atlantic City, N.J. As Revel, Showboat and Trump Plaza prepare to shut down over the next few weeks, putting thousands of employees out of work, Atlantic City is planning additional job training. Mayor Don Guardian said Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014, that an effort to provide employment training and identify opportunities for unemployed workers will begin by October. It will be funded by the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, and is designed to help 1,200 workers a year. (AP Photo/Mel Evans,file)
** FILE ** In this June 7, 1995 file photograph, Donald Trump is seen above the floor of the New York Stock Exchange after taking his flagship Trump Plaza Casino public in New York City. Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc., based in Atlantic City, New Jersey, filed for Chapter 11 protection on Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2009, in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New Jersey. Trump and his daughter Ivanka resigned from the company's board Friday, Feb. 13, 2009, after growing frustrated with bondholders. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens,File)
Jack Nicholson, Warren Beatty and Donald Trump during Mike Tyson vs Michael Spinks Fight at Trump Plaza - June 27, 1988 at Trump Plaza in Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
Burned out lights can be seen as a woman passes Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino on The Boardwalk early Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014, in Atlantic City, N.J. Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino closed Tuesday. Trump Plaza is the fourth Atlantic City casino to go out of business so far this year. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 28: A man walks past the boardwalk entrance to the Trump Plaza casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey, on Saturday, February 28, 2004. Donald Trump's casino company has lost money for eight consecutive years. (Photo by Emile Wamsteker/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Pat Boylan, left, of New York, plays a slot machine as construction worker Ron Hess of Galloway, N.J. rides past on a lift truck at the Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City, N.J., Thursday, Jan. 5, 2006. Since emerging from bankruptcy court protection eight months ago, Trump Entertainment has been on a spending spree, spending $32 million to renovate rooms at the company's casinos, revamp the casino floor at Trump Plaza and build a glitzy new Boardwalk-fronting bar there. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
** ADVANCE FOR SATURDAY, JAN. 7 ** Construction worker Ken Tobias, left, watches as coworker Jim Kaczmanski prepares to cut some wood trim near covered slot machines as they remodel the casino floor at the Trump Plaza hotel-casino in Atlantic City, N.J., Thursday, Jan. 5, 2006. Since emerging from bankruptcy court protection eight months ago, Trump Entertainment has been on a spending spree, spending $32 million to renovate rooms at the company's casinos, revamp the casino floor at Trump Plaza and build a glitzy new Boardwalk-fronting bar there. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
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By WAYNE PARRY

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) -- Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino closed its doors early Tuesday, the fourth Atlantic City casino to go belly-up so far this year.

When it opened on May 14, 1984, Donald Trump called it the finest building in Atlantic City, and possibly the nation.

But since then, The Donald has left town and cut ties to its casinos. And the Plaza, like many Atlantic City casinos, has seen better days.

A downward spiral that saw it ranked last among the city's casinos ended Tuesday morning as about a half-dozen gamblers who stayed to the end got up from the lone blackjack table in operation or from a few slot machines and walked out beneath the dozens of glittery chandeliers for the last time.

Dealer Ruth Hardrick worked at Trump Plaza for 26 of its 30 years, but is now without a job. She's in a large group: About 8,000 Atlantic City casino workers have lost their jobs this year, and another 3,000 could join them if Trump Plaza's parent company makes good on its threat to shutter the Trump Taj Mahal Casino resort in November.

"What's the next step? Where do we go from here?" she asked. "It's happening all over. A lot of us are in the same boat. You think something will come along (to save the casino). And it didn't."

Atlantic City began the year with 12 casinos. It now has eight.

Unlike Revel, which opened just over two years ago and was considered new and luxurious before closing, or the still-profitable Showboat, shuttered by its owner in the name of reducing competition for the remaining casinos in town, the demise of Trump Plaza could be seen a long way off.

Despite its prime location at the heart of the Boardwalk and the end of the Atlantic City Expressway (its motto had been "The Center Of It All"), gamblers have been abandoning Trump Plaza for newer, ritzier casinos for years. Its owners, Trump Entertainment Resorts, let it deteriorate in recent years, particularly after a sale for the bargain-basement price of $20 million to a California firm fell through last year.

Jim Redmond is a 60-year-old from Montreal who loves Atlantic City and regularly stayed at Trump Plaza. He says its decline was obvious over the last seven years.

"It did slip every year," he said. "This year they had no bedspreads and they totally gave up on the ice machines. This year the Plaza bar was closed and the 24 hour cafe closed at 2 p.m. The higher-end restaurants were closed. It was so sad to see it get a little worse every year. They really seemed to give up about five years ago."

One only had to walk from the parking garage through a glass-enclosed walkway over Pacific Avenue to the casino and be enveloped in searing heat that approached 100 degrees from the sun beating down on the glass to experience the property's frantic cost-cutting moves; air conditioning the area was one of the expenses that was deemed non-essential.

Illuminated letters advertising the casino's name on its front and back facades burned out and were never replaced. Visitors to the Miss America pageant last week at Boardwalk Hall next door saw a neon sign proclaiming "Trump Plaz Hotel & Cas." On the Boardwalk side, the sign read, "U Laza."

Many restaurants on the first and third floors have been shut down for months. Along an escalator leading to them, fake plastic plants were either missing or stolen from row after row of trays. A self-serve kiosk to redeem player's club points near the parking garage was disconnected and covered in dust.

So far this year, Trump Plaza has won just $36.8 million from gamblers. That's down 31.5 percent from the same period last year, and about the same amount as the Borgata wins during an average two-week period.

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