The Atlantic City region is on the brink of a short-term economic disaster.
Atlantic City made history 36 years ago when it opened the first legal casinos in the United States outside Las Vegas.
Now it’s doing so again as casino employment – which for years exceeded the number of city residents – drops precipitously after a decade of steady decline.
The closing of three casinos, starting with Showboat and Revel this weekend followed by Trump Plaza two weeks later, and the rapid-fire loss of 5,700 jobs, draw historic comparisons to longer-term collapses of U.S. industries such as steel.
English: Atlantic City (NJ) – The boardwalk in a rainy day (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
ATLANTIC CITY – Members of the clergy locked arms as they led a march of about 400 Unite Here Local 54 members in “a prayer vigil for Atlantic City’s service economy” on Wednesday night.
“This is union territory,” the casino workers chanted as they marched along New Jersey Avenue amid car horns honking in support. Many held signs, including Linda Bragg, 56, of Atlantic City, who works at Bally’s. Hers read: “Atlantic City – Broken Promises.”
“We don’t want to be a forgotten town,” she said. “I grew up with all these people. We made millions for the state. It’s really heart-wrenching. A mess.”
The march, on the eve of three planned casino closures, started between the Revel and Showboat casino hotels on the Boardwalk at 6:30 and ended more than an hour later at New Shiloh Baptist Church on Atlantic Avenue. Several pastors and bishops held a prayer service in support of the employees, many of whom are members of their churches.
English: Picture of the Tropicana from the Boardwalk. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) – Atlantic City’s 12 casinos saw their collective earnings fall by nearly 45 percent in the second quarter of 2013, state regulators said Thursday.
According to figures released by the state Division of Gaming Enforcement, the casinos made just over $65 million in profits during the second quarter, down from nearly $118 million in the same period last year.
Caesars Atlantic City had a quarterly profit of $24.2 million, up 17.4 percent from last year’s second-quarter profit of $20.6 million. Four of the 12 casinos posted operating losses in April, May and June.
Atlantic City (NJ) – The boardwalk in a rainy day (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Hours before a strenthening Hurricane Sandy was set to strike, Atlantic City was already getting battered so badly that chunks of the boardwalk were being ripped away by the strong surge.
Some residents who had not evacuated or sought out a shelter were beginning to panic. Major streets were flooded. Early on, a section of boardwalk already in disrepair gave way. But other sections followed.
An 80 foot section of the Boardwalk at Atlantic Avenue and New Hampshire Avenue in Atlantic City was destroyed by the pounding surf. All that remained was a pile of wood and rubble, according to an Atlantic City Public Works employee.
Most of the damage early on was toward the inlet. By 11 a.m., waves were seen crashing over the boardwalk, with big sections gone missing.
New Jersey’s popular seaside destinations are normally full of tourists this time of year. Hundreds of thousands of people swell the population along the New Jersey coastline in the summer. Right now residents and tourists are being told they must leave because Hurricane Irene is expected to cause major damage and flooding along the coast.
Tolls were suspended on the Atlantic City Expressway to move people away from the shore points as quickly as possible. The Atlantic City Expressway is the fastest way north and west toward Philadelphia from many beach resorts. Some state roads are closed to southbound traffic so all lanes can be used by northbound traffic. Eastbound Route 72 will be shut down tonight so that all lanes can be used to move people off Long Beach Island.
Cape May, the Wildwoods, Ocean City, Atlantic City hotels and casinos, Long Beach Island and everything in between is emptying out. Governor Christie declared a state of emergency yesterday.
I am not surprised to learn that Atlantic City is taking a huge hit from all the recent casino development in surrounding states. Rising gas prices and a major recession are not helping things either.
Pennsylvania, under Fast Eddie, became a gambling state. Our casinos are spread out across the state, not all in one place. This seems to be a better strategy than New Jersey. 10 casinos are now operating in Pennsylvania. Atlantic City has 11.
I am sure Atlantic City depended on throngs of people from Pennsylvania coming there to gamble and spend money. Pennsylvania may very well pass Atlantic City as the number two gambling market in the U.S. in the years to come. Pennsylvania casino income is expected to grow to $2.7 billion dollars in 2011 while Atlantic City’s 2011 casino income is expected to fall to $3.09 billion dollars.
The last time I drove to Atlantic City, it was a ridiculously expensive trip. Bridge tolls, Atlantic City Expressway tolls, parking and gas made it a $50 trip before I set foot in a casino or shop. I went down for an afternoon to meet friends from high school who were staying at a casino. I will not be making that trip again.
Time will tell if Atlantic City can rebound or if Pennsylvania will unseat Atlantic City as the number two spot in the U.S. for gambling.