Atlantic City casinos' anxiety mounts over extended closings

Posted: November 01, 2012

With their financial losses mounting, the Atlantic City casinos stand prepared to open their doors as soon as Gov. Christie's evacuation order is lifted.

When that might be is anyone's guess.

Lisa Spengler, spokeswoman for the state Division of Gaming Enforcement, said Wednesday that DGE director David Rebuck was "in ongoing dialogue with the Governor's Office, state and local officials, and the Atlantic City casino executives."

"No decision as to the reopening of the casinos will be made until such time as the governor's mandatory evacuation executive order is lifted and all safety issues surrounding Atlantic City, its residents, and visitors have been addressed," she said.

Rebuck toured the casinos Wednesday. All 12 reported minimal structural damage from Sandy. But given the extended closing, the storm's financial wallop may be more severe than was expected.

The casinos have been shuttered since 4 p.m. Sunday and are estimated to be losing close to $5 million a day, combined, for each day they are closed.

The Atlantic City Expressway and Garden State Parkway, the two main arteries for patrons traveling to and from the resort, were reopened Tuesday afternoon.

Christie toured ravaged parts of the state with President Obama on Wednesday by helicopter and motorcade, making a stop in Brigantine and driving past the casinos.

Said Christie spokesman Kevin Roberts: "Of course, you want to get folks back up and running as quickly as possible because of the economic impact. . . . But the governor's obligation is to ensure it is done in a safe way contingent with the conditions on the ground."

Spengler said DGE investigators and personnel were ready to report to each of the casinos when allowed to. When given the go-ahead, Rebuck will sign an order allowing each casino to reopen at a specific day and time to ensure a seamless reopening.

Joe Lupo, executive vice president of operations at the Borgata, said that his casino, like the others in town, was anxiously awaiting word on when it can reopen, especially as the weekend nears. The A.C. casinos lost most of Sunday because of the order to close at 4 p.m.

"The weekends have been more impactful for Atlantic City," Lupo said. "While we're hoping to open by then, we're obviously going to support the governor's role. The safety of our employees and customers is the most important thing."

Lupo said the casinos typically need 24 hours' notice to tell employees to report to work and make sure all the casinos' money is available.

Moody's Investor Service issued a report Wednesday saying an extended closure for ailing Atlantic City "would result in a meaningful loss of revenue and earnings over the short term, something many casino operators . . . cannot afford."


Contact Suzette Parmley at 215-854-2855 or sparmley@phillynews.com.

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|