Morning Headlines: Experts Consider Atlantic City’s Fate

Photo courtesy  Wikimedia Commons.

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

The Inquirer has a lengthy report this morning speculating on Atlantic City’s fate come September, when as many as four Boardwalk properties may be vacant. Suzette Parmley talks to a variety of authorities and rubberneckers, and even nabs a quote from Carl Dranoff while he’s at dinner.

With the Atlantic Club having closed in January, Trump Plaza closing in September and Revel and Showboat in dire straits, Mayor Don Guardian tells Parmley that the city is considering using the old casinos for other purposes. Changes will need the go-ahead from the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority.

What would the other purposes be? Parmley found a few people with suggestions. One possible tenant would be Richard Stockton College, which has expressed interest in opening a campus in Atlantic City:

The changing landscape in A.C. makes it more important than ever to diversify the economic base in Atlantic City, as well as provide four-year degree and higher educational opportunities for the many employees being displaced,” Stockton president Herman Saatkamp said in a statement Wednesday. “A college campus complete with housing and surrounding businesses would be a significant asset to these needs.

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Masked Men Steal More Than $180,000 From Atlantic City Casino

Masked Robbers stole $181,200 from Caesars Atlantic City, according to a flier put out by law enforcement. The pair took off with two plastic boxes filled with hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash.

The New Jersey State Police Casino Gaming Bureau is investigating, which means the crime happened on casino property. One of the masked robbers had a gun.

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Workers Fighting to Keep Atlantic City Casinos Open

It is not a good time to be a casino worker in Atlantic City. Two casinos at the Jersey shore resort, the Trump Plaza and the Showboat, have announced closing dates. Executives at the glitzy Revel — Atlantic City’s newest casino, and the second-tallest building in New Jersey — say it, too, will close if no buyer can be found.

But now the unions for casino workers are fighting to keep at least some of these properties open. The unions are working to see if they can find buyers for the casinos. “We want the world to know that we’re looking for partners — not saviors or messiahs,” Bob McDevitt, president of Local 54 of the Unite-HERE union, told the Associated Press. “We will work with them.”

About 8,000 workers are employed at the three endangered casinos.

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Eastern Pennsylvania Casinos Are Raking It In at the Tables

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While there’s been a good deal of doom and gloom about the gaming industry around these parts in the last month, here’s some evidence that not all area gaming establishments are rolling snake eyes. The Morning Call reports on new data released by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board that says the state’s 12 casinos took in $731.8 million at table games in the most recent fiscal year, up 2.6 percent over the previous:

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Harrah’s Slams Idea of Second Casino for Philadelphia

While there are many in the city of Philadelphia who believe the city could use a second casino — a worker at a pizza shop I frequent said SugarHouse is “probably the smartest thing the city’s ever done” the other day — others say the city doesn’t even need one casino and certainly not a second. Hmm, who to trust? Hey, how about a racetrack casino in Chester!

Harrah’s Chester has come out in opposition to a second casino in the city. One can make the obvious inference that, well, a new casino would take away from their business at Harrah’s Philadelphia (which, like the Philadelphia Union soccer team, is in Chester). To be fair: While Harrah’s was involved in 2010 in a partnership to build and open the stalled Foxwoods casino, it didn’t bid in 2012 when the process was reopened.

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High-End Shore Market Unlikely to Be Hurt By Casino Closures

margate home

Photo of 514 N. Thurlow Avenue in Margate, a home for sale for $8.5 million. Copyright SJSRMLS.

The legalization of gambling across the Northeast has hit Atlantic City hard: The latest victim, Trump Entertainment Resorts confirmed this weekend, is Trump Plaza, which is scheduled to close on September 16.

But it’s not all gloom and doom. Real estate experts we contacted said that while the rental market may be hit hard by the job losses — particularly in nearby inland towns like Pleasantville — the closures are much less likely to have a significant impact on the higher income ownership market in towns like Ventnor and Margate.

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Soon-to-Be-Shuttered Showboat Could Be Sold as a Casino

Caesars Entertainment Corporation, owners of the Showboat Atlantic City casino that is slated to close August 31st, has said it is open to selling the property as a casino rather than closing it down.

Caesars spokesperson Gary Thompson said the company has received “preliminary inquiries” about selling the property to a new owner, who’d keep it open as a casino. Showboat opened on the boardwalk in Atlantic City in March 1987.

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Will Revel Be a Monument to Atlantic City’s Broken Dreams?

Photo | Jen A. Miller

Photo | Jen A. Miller

On Thursday morning last week, I stepped onto the escalator from Revel’s lobby to head down to the Boardwalk. It was windy. I could tell not just because I could see dune grass blowing in the breeze, but because I could feel it — inside the building. The wind hit me in the face, and shook the sculptures hanging from the ceiling, which I had been told on my pre-opening tour of Revel weighed as much as a car — each.

That afternoon, Revel would file for bankruptcy for the second time since opening in 2012, attaching to it a threat to shut down by August 18th if it did not find a buyer. If that does happen, it’ll join Showboat, which will close in August, and the Atlantic Club, which closed in January  as boardwalk gambling ghosts.

A lot of things went wrong with Revel, mostly that it was a casino conceived at the peak of Atlantic City’s gambling monopoly, and opened near the bottom. It came onto the market with far too much debt, and took an even greater risk in trying to place itself above the typical Atlantic City gambler by limiting the number of slot machines and banning smoking. Now, the $2.4 billion casino is on the verge of closing, taking a $260 million investment from the state of New Jersey with it. Read more »

Will Philadelphia Get Its Own Space Needle?

skyspire
PHL Local Gaming — one of the five contenders for that ever elusive casino license in Philadelphia — has announced a potential new feature for its LoSo Entertainment Center: a 615-foot-tall Skyspire with rooftop restaurant and observation deck, both of which would be reached by gondola. The tower would be designed to look much like Seattle’s Space Needle, though it would be 10 feet taller (take that, Seattle!).

The Skyspire wouldn’t be unique to Philadelphia. It’s made by U.S. Thrill Rides, which creates rides and attractions for places like Six Flags and MGM Grand. Michael Kitchen, president of U.S. Thrill Rides, has this to say about the company’s Skyspire:

“In addition to being a world-caliber amusement attraction and a stunning piece of architecture, the Skyspire also constitutes a ‘wow factor with class’ that appeals to the very young, to seniors and all other adult demographics.”

Here are more images of the Skyspire:

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