The landscape for Atlantic City casinos and casino workers in the wake of Hurricane Sandy's devastation is not a pretty one. The Press of Atlantic City is reporting that since casinos were mandatorily shuttered on Sunday, employees have been out of work, and it's unclear when the businesses will reopen. The resorts cannot go back into operation until New Jersey Governor Chris Christie lifts his evacuation order.
A workers union president, Bob McDevitt, is quoted as saying that casino employees, many of them devoted to food and beverage programs, "haven't been out of work long enough for unemployment, and the casinos are not going to pay them back." And those casinos have been in a precarious economic situation for a while now, "mired in a prolonged revenue slump caused by competition from casinos in neighboring states and the sluggish economy." The city's 12 casinos are losing close to a combined $5 million every day, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer, and "given the extended closing, the storm's financial wallop may be more severe than was expected."
The city's economic troubles are widely attributed to the rise of gambling options elsewhere in the Northeast, something that resorts like Borgata and most recently The Revel have tried to combat with modern accommodations and restaurants from visible chefs like Wolfgang Puck, José Garces, Alain Allegretti, and Michel Richard, among others. As the Financial Times points out, though, it doesn't seem to have been enough: "Although the building and restaurants have received critical acclaim, Revel's revenues have fallen short of expectations each month, raising fears that it could default on its loans."
The Financial Times suggests that there is some hope, and that people can expect more contemporary properties and restaurant offerings: the city "continues to rebrand itself with new slogans, restaurants and shows in the hope of broadening its appeal beyond card players and slot machine enthusiasts." Right now, though, the focus of casino executives and employees is getting back in operation, and most reports suggest that it'll take between 12 and 24 hours to get things up and running once the evacuation order is lifted.
· Sandy reveals Atlantic City's deeper woes [Financial Times]
· Atlantic City casinos' anxiety mounts over extended closings [Philadelphia Inquirer]
· Thousands of Atlantic City casino workers in limbo hurt by lost wages from shutdown [Press of Atlantic City]
· All Hurricane Sandy Coverage on Eater [-E-]