Angered by the fact that Caesars Entertainment will close the profitable Showboat Casino, a New Jersey legislator is preparing proposals that would restrict the way that the state’s casino owners conduct business.
New Jersey Assemblyman Chris Brown intends to introduce legislation that would preclude any one company from operating more than two casinos in the state, require that the sale of any casinos not include language that would prevent the new owners from reopening as a casino, and force casinos that elect to close to reimburse the state for any economic incentives they may have received.
This is unacceptable, and it’s time to stand up for the working middle class,” Brown told a group of about eight dozen concerned casino employees, residents, and fellow lawmakers.
Caesars, which also owns Bally’s, Harrah’s and Caesars Atlantic City, will close the Showboat Aug. 31 despite reporting profits. About 2,100 employees face the challenge of finding new employment. That’s on top of the roughly 1,600 workers sent to the unemployment line in January when the Atlantic Club closed its doors.
The Atlantic Club was purchased jointly by Caesars and Trump Entertainment in a bankruptcy auction in December. Caesars has since sold the casino hotel to a Florida developer with a stipulation that the property not reopen as a casino. Caesars made the same stipulation when negotiating the sale of the Claridge Hotel and Casino in February.
Trump currently owns two Atlantic City casinos, while all other casinos in the state besides Caesars’ holdings are operated individually. Brown’s proposal aims to keep the state’s gaming industry from being too dependent upon any one company. Some will argue that it already is too reliant on Caesars considering that the company will still have a 30% stake in the industry even after the Showboat closes and reduces the number of thriving casinos to 10.
While hoping to stifle any competition by ensuring that the Claridge and Atlantic Club no longer accept wagers, Caesars representatives have indicated that no such restrictions will be placed on new owners of the Showboat. Caesars spokesperson Gary Thompson told the Press of Atlantic City that a number of inquiries have been received regarding purchasing the casino and Caesars is not planning to include deed restrictions as it did in previous sales.