In the early hours of this morning the Atlantic Club Casino Hotel, in Atlantic City, shut its doors for the final time. Having been around for over 30 years it was something of an icon and was once the most popular gambling destination in New Jersey. Its closure today is something of the end of an era and brings the number of casinos in Atlantic City down to 11.
The Atlantic Club was originally called the Golden Nugget when it opened in 1980 and was owned by the casino tycoon Steve Wynn. It was once Atlantic City’s top earning casino, but it has changed hands many times and has been struggling for the last few years. With newer casinos opening, boasting more rooms and more glitz and glamour, the Atlantic Club became a less popular option for tourists and local gamblers.
It has been owned by a Los Angeles hedge fund since 2005 and a buyer has been actively sought for the last three years. A deal was agreed in principle with the online poker site, PokerStars, but that ended up falling through amid concerns about whether they would qualify for a casino license due to unresolved legal action against the founder of PokerStars.
In November of last year the casino filed for bankruptcy and was sold to two of its competitors who will now strip it of various assets. The hotel itself was purchased by Caesars Entertainment, who have not yet announced their plans for it, while the table games and slot machines were purchased by Tropicana Entertainment.
Around 1,600 employees of the casino have lost their jobs and there were emotional scenes this morning when the doors were shut. Cocktail server Catherine Izzary said “I came here from Caesars when it was the Golden Nugget because it was the hot place to work. I never thought it would go down. It’s sad.”
Analysts have said that more casinos in Atlantic City could face closure in the coming years, particularly if the proposed expansion of gambling venues into the northern New Jersey Meadowlands goes ahead. The recent regulation of online gambling in the state will almost certainly have a significant impact on the industry too, although it remains to be seen exactly how that impact will manifest itself.
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