Expressing concern for soon-to-be unemployed casino workers and the resultant effect on the state’s economy, New Jersey State Senator Jim Whelan and two colleagues have requested that the Casino Control Commission delay the shutdowns of two casinos.
Whelan, along with Assemblymen Chris Brown and Vince Mazzeo, wrote the commission a letter and asked for a reprieve regarding the scheduled Aug. 31 closing of the Showboat Casino, as well as the shutdown of Trump Plaza on Sept. 16, the Press of Atlantic City reported. The lawmakers asked for a four-month delay, but will likely take whatever they can get in an effort to keep thousands of workers drawing paychecks for as long as possible.
The commission is headed by chairman Matthew Levinson, who promised to consider the request while acting under the limitations afforded his agency under the Casino Control Act.
I certainly share the very serious concerns they raised about the welfare of workers and all of the businesses that will suffer if casino properties close their doors,” Levinson said.
While a reprieve would permit casino workers to remain employed a bit longer, it would also serve the purpose of allowing companies interested in acquiring the casinos more time to possibly offer up bids. Lawmakers would like to see new owners step in and keep the casino doors open, if possible.
That was not the case when the Atlantic Club closed in January. Owned by Caesars in a joint purchase with Trump Entertainment following a bankruptcy auction late last year, Caesars has since flipped the property but included deed restrictions in the sale forbidding the buyers from opening as a casino.
That angered Assemblyman Brown, who plans to introduce legislation shortly that will prevent casinos that close from including such limitations on buyers. Caesars owns the Showboat and has promised not to prevent any new owners from operating a casino on the property.
There are 11 open casinos in Atlantic City at the moment. Should the commission fail to approve the request as outlined in the letter penned by Whelan and his associates, that number could be reduced to eight by autumn. The Revel Casino is also facing a possible shutdown after its second bankruptcy filing in as many years.