Trump Plaza is closing. This is just the latest sign of Atlantic City’s dramatic decline


A file photo of Trump Plaza in Atlantic City. (Mel Evans/AP)

Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino, which bills itself as “a first-class experience” at the center of Atlantic City’s famous boardwalk, announced Monday that it will close in September.

This is bleak news for casino’s employees, who received their notices a little more than two months before the casino is expected to close. But it’s also the latest bit of bad news for Atlantic City, a onetime gambling hub that has been in decline for several years.

More than 1,000 people were sent notices on Monday telling them that they will lose their jobs when the casino closes, according to Trump Entertainment Resorts, which owns the casino. The company said in a statement to The Washington Post that it is “reviewing alternatives” for the property.

Roughly 1,000 will be jobless come September when the Trump Plaza is expected to close. (Reuters)

 

“Although this review has not been completed and no final decision has been made, the company expects that it will terminate the operations of Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino on or shortly after September 16, 2014,” the company said in the statement.

The hotel’s owners previously confirmed the closing over the weekend to the Press of Atlantic City. This closure comes a year after the casino was nearly sold. A company in California attempted to purchase it for just $20 million last year, but Carl Icahn, the investor who holds the mortgage, said he would not allow the sale to go forward because he felt the price was too low.

Trump Plaza, which opened in May 1984, employs 1,009 people, according to the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement. The casino has been a poor performer, earning less and less from gamblers. During the first six months of 2014, Trump Plaza’s casino winnings fell by more than 27 percent from the same period last year, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement reported Monday.

If Trump Plaza does shutter, it could be the fourth Atlantic City casino to close this year. The Atlantic Club Casino Hotel closed in January.

In addition to Trump Plaza, two other hotels are expected to close in the near future: Revel, the highly-touted $2.4 billion resort that opened in 2012 with dreams of providing a different Atlantic City experience, says it could close by August if it can’t find a buyer. The Showboat Casino Hotel will also close in August, according to Caesars Entertainment.

Revel currently has 3,106 employees, while the Showboat has 2,133, according to the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement. Combined with Trump Plaza’s employees, this means that more than 6,150 people — or nearly a fifth of the people employed by Atlantic City’s casino hotels — could be out of work in a matter of months.

Atlantic City’s casino revenue has fallen by nearly 50 percent since 2006, according to a report issued earlier this year by the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. This doesn’t reflect a decline happening nationwide; in Nevada, for example, statewide gaming revenues have been flat or posting moderate gains since 2010.

Rather, the city’s casinos and hotels — which used to be a draw for gamblers along the Northeast Corridor and beyond — have been swamped by competition from other states that have started adding casinos to keep gamblers closer to home.

Maryland opened the Maryland Live Casino in 2012, while Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D) signed a bill legalizing casinos in that state in 2011.

In Pennsylvania, which opened its first casinos in 2006, gambling has provided a financial windfall. A study issued in May by a legislative committee said the casinos have given the state more than $8 billion in gaming tax revenues (a figure that doesn’t count property or wage taxes) and directly employed more than 16,000 people in the state last year.

Meanwhile, the competition keeps coming. Voters in New York state approved a measure last year to expand casino gambling, which will add yet another destination for people who may have otherwise headed to Atlantic City, the boardwalk and its dwindling number of casinos.

Mark Berman is a reporter on the National staff. He runs Post Nation, a destination for breaking news and developing stories from around the country.
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Mark Berman · July 14, 2014