ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — The Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino confirmed Monday that it is indeed expecting to close at the end of the summer, and more than 1,100 workers were sent layoff notices.
As Cleve Bryan of KYW-TV, CBS 3 Philadelphia reported, Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc. confirmed the move through a news release Monday. The company said it has been reviewing alternatives for the property.
“Although this review has not been completed and no final decision has been made, the company expects that it will terminate the operations of Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino on or shortly after September 16, 2014,” read the release.
Workers described the atmosphere inside the gaming hall, which greets visitors as they arrive in Atlantic City, as gloomy.
“It’s definitely glum, everybody’s depressed and they’re trying to be optimistic,” said Louis Ciabatoni, who worked in maintenance for 12 years and now has to find a new way to support his wife and two children.
Trump Plaza is the fourth casino this year to announce intentions to close, with nearly 8,000 Atlantic City workers either laid off or at risk – 1,153 at Trump Plaza, 1,600 at the Atlantic Club, 2,100 at Showboat and 3,100 at Revel.
“It’s not a surprise to those involved in the industry that this property will be closing,” said Liza Cartmell, president of the Atlantic City Alliance.
Since the Showboat made its announcement to close, several politicians and casino industry experts have characterized layoffs as the painful consequence of Atlantic City “transitioning” away from a gambling-first destination.
In 2011, Gov. Chris Christie signed legislation to create a tourism district in Atlantic City, and increase money spent on attracting tourists as well as companies that offer non-gaming job opportunities. The plan outlined that at least $30 million be spent on advertising and promotions, yet far more jobs are going than coming.
“It’s a tough one for employees ,” Cartmell told KYW. “But the reality is, if we were not spending $30 million a year to compete, we would fall off face of the earth from a leisure perspective.”
Cartmell said there is opportunity for the convention industry to keep expanding and fill hotel rooms outside of the summer months with the addition of a conference center at Harrah’s.
There is also hope for more jobs when a Bass Pro Shop opens, as well as market on the Boardwalk that’s being designed much like Philadelphia’s Reading Terminal Market.
Last week, Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian told CBS News’ Michele Miller that a move away from gambling is inevitable.
“Gaming is always going to be important to us,” Guardian said. “It’s no longer the center stage.”
John Palmieri, executive director of the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, which is tasked with carrying out much of the Tourism District Master Plan, said the state of Atlantic City is much better than some are portraying it.
“Maybe we, in effect, dealt with the least strong of the casino group, and we might be able to determine that we can sustain ourselves with seven or eight casinos,” Palmieri told KYW.
Trump Plaza was the worst-performing casino in Atlantic City during the month May, the last month for which figures are available.
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