Showboat and Revel Close; Trump Plaza Next

Showboat and Revel Close; Trump Plaza NextA new chapter begins in the Atlantic City gaming industry as the Revel and Showboat casinos closed their doors as scheduled.

The Showboat began turning away gamblers on Sunday, Aug. 31, while the Revel followed on Tuesday, Sept. 2. Ironically, the day in-between, Monday Sept. 1, was the Labor Day holiday, a yearly tribute to the nation’s workers who are such a big part of the country’s strength and prosperity.

Almost 5,000 workers employed by the two casinos do not have good reason to celebrate following the closures that leaves the number of casinos operating in Atlantic City at nine. That number will soon be reduced to eight as Trump Plaza prepares to close its doors in just two weeks.

Another 1,000 or so casino workers from Trump Plaza will join the unemployment line on Sept. 16. The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement approved Trump Plaza’s closing by issuing an order to that effect last Friday, the Press of Atlantic City reported.

Meanwhile, Gov. Chris Christie has scheduled a summit for Monday, Sept. 8 to discuss ways in which Atlantic City can be revived. Revenue for New Jersey’s igaming industry has been decreasing each year since reaching a high of $5.2 billion in 2006. Numbers from 2013 were nearly half that much.

The shuttered casinos may be resurrected if buyers can be found. Though the doors may be closed, it’s still open season for the submission of offers from potential new owners. Christie’s meeting slated for next Monday will likely touch on that subject.

The closing of each casino is heart-breaking, but perhaps none more so than the Revel, which didn’t even survive three years. After shelling out $2.4 billion in construction costs, Revel investors stood helplessly by as the casino failed to turn a profit and was mired in bankruptcy proceedings twice in its short history.

With the closing of the Atlantic Club in January, 2014 will go down in history as perhaps the worst year in New Jersey gaming since casinos began appearing on the Eastern Seaboard in 1978. If new owners do not step forward, Atlantic City will have lost 1/3 of its gambling industry.

The casino closings cast a shadow over the Garden State’s Internet gambling scheme that launched late last year. Seen as a way to boost sagging revenue, New Jersey’s igaming regime remains a work in progress as expectations have not yet been fully met.

Online poker and gambling brought in more than $10 million for New Jersey in July, a mild increase over the $9.5 million in June. The month-over-month increase is cause for optimism, as is the expected arrival of PokerStars to the market shortly.

The industry giant’s recent sale to Amaya Gaming has paved the way for entry into the U.S. market, with the first stop likely to be New Jersey. State gaming regulators continue to scrutinize the company’s suitability, with a decision (and approval) expected in short order.

Jacqueline Packett
Jacqueline Packett