Atlantic City, once called Absegami, inhabited by Indians, high sand dunes and black snakes, has had its ups and downs. Now it is a casino town suffering the slings and arrows of an over-saturated northeast gaming market (See Part I) and facing the likely closure of three more casinos with over 6,000 employees to be let go within four weeks.
SNAPSHOTS OF PEOPLE AND PLACES
Beginning at the southern-most casino on the boardwalk Saturday I passed the Atlantic Club which closed in January, terminated about 2,000 jobs, and left the area around it emptier and quieter with less business for the shops. Caesars purchased the property to reduce local competition, with the plan that it would not be used as a casino.
Moving north, next is the Tropicana, purchased cheaply by Carl Icahn with no debt and operating successfully through a good mix of services for the wealthy and not so wealthy and the older and younger clients. It also gets healthy income from its non-casino shops, entertainment and other services.
Next comes Trump Plaza which plans to close in a few weeks and let go 1,000 employees. Along the side of the casino where workers come out to take a break, I talked with a number of them. A man in a suit (a sign he is on a salary, whereas others typically are hourly workers) said he was going to be transferred to the Trump Taj Mahal. A kitchen employee said there would be too many people chasing the same jobs so he was going to leave the area. A cocktail waitress, who gets no severance, said she had worked there 25 years, has two children and a small 401 (k) plan. She will wait a while and see if she can find a job. A bar tender who has been there over ten years says AC has to be more family-friendly and offer young people more nightlife (dance clubs with DJ’s.) He adds that the tips are good in season, but he is going to Florida where he thinks he has better prospects. A waiter says 95% of the employees are totally dependent on their wages and will have a tough time getting re-employed. A chef in his top hat with a wife and three kids thinks he will find a job if not in AC then in a casino in a neighboring state. A restaurant supervisor has a wife and a mortgage and is not optimistic, but will try first to find local work. These employees are not overtly angry but rather resigned to what is about to happen, with a feeling that they are not being treated fairly.
More snapshots below the fold