Showboat Casino Closing in NJ Prompts Changes in Statutes

Showboat Casino Closing in NJ Prompts Changes in StatutesThe Showboat in Atlantic City is scheduled to close despite turning a profit, causing a NJ lawmaker to propose bills restricting the freedom of casino owners.

Angered that some 2,100 casino and hotel employees will likely land in the unemployment line when the [geolink href=””]Showboat Casino closes[/geolink] as scheduled on Aug. 31, Assemblyman Chris Brown plans to introduce legislation that would tighten regulations concerning the state’s gaming industry.

Brown’s measures would put a limit of two on casino ownership by any one corporation in the state, prohibit casinos from being sold under the stipulation that a new casino not be opened in its place, and force casinos that close to refund any economic advantages received, the Press of Atlantic City reported. Brown called the closing of the Showboat “unacceptable” and deemed his proposals necessary to make sure that the state’s gaming industry is protected in the future.

The Showboat is owned by Caesars, operators of three other casinos in Atlantic City. All other casinos in the state are owned by companies who run only one, with the exception of the two controlled by Trump Entertainment.

Caesars recently sold both the old Claridge and Atlantic Club casinos under agreements that the new owners do not reopen as casinos. There apparently will be no such restriction on the Showboat, with Caesars spokesman Gary Thompson indicating that a number of parties have expressed interest in the property with leanings toward continuing casino operations.

Brown intends to introduce his new legislative proposals to the General Assembly once lawmakers reconvene. He also addressed the issue of casino expansion in New Jersey that would include areas outside of Atlantic City, stating his opposition to that plan until casinos on the boardwalk improve their declining revenue totals.

The Atlantic Club closed in January, reducing the state’s operating casinos to 11 and putting some 1,600 employees on the street. The scheduled closing of the Showboat will bring that number down to 10 and create further financial hardships for another 2,100 workers. Caesars has indicated that it will attempt to find positions for some of those employees at its other state gaming establishments – Harrah’s, Bally’s, and Caesars Atlantic City.

Neighboring Pennsylvania has 12 land-based casinos and New York is preparing to open four new casinos in the near future. That competition from nearby states has caused Atlantic City casinos to suffer declining revenue for seven years running.

Jacqueline Packett
Jacqueline Packett