Maryland casino eyes A.C. job seekers

"It went very well," Raj Avichal said of his interview with Maryland Live! Casino. Avichal, who has been a cashier at Trump Plaza for 26 years, is now waiting hopefully for a job offer.
"It went very well," Raj Avichal said of his interview with Maryland Live! Casino. Avichal, who has been a cashier at Trump Plaza for 26 years, is now waiting hopefully for a job offer. (RON TARVER / Staff Photgrapher)
Posted: August 22, 2014

Mark Manzoni, a bartender at the doomed Revel Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, has a manila envelope in his hand and a smile on his face.

"I just got a job," the Galloway Township resident says. "My last shift at Revel ends at 8 a.m. on Labor Day, and I go down to Maryland Sept. 2."

Manzoni, 50, was the first to arrive and the first hired during the job fair sponsored Tuesday and Wednesday by the Maryland Live! Casino.

With the Atlantic Club already dark and Revel, Showboat, and Trump Plaza scheduled to shut down within weeks, an estimated 8,000 Atlantic City casino workers will have lost their jobs this year.

Over the two days of the fair, Maryland Live! conducted 89 interviews, 29 of which ended with job offers. Also, 18 other job-seekers were asked back for an additional interview.

"We're actually very pleased with the turnout and results," says Carmen E. Gonzales, director of communications for the suburban Baltimore casino. "It's a big decision to decide to relocate, especially if you have to uproot your family."

Maryland Live! made 100 offers during two previous Atlantic City job fairs, notes Howard Weinstein, senior vice president and general counsel.

"The shutdowns and the layoffs are clearly unfortunate for the individuals, and the industry," but represent "an opportunity for us to hire experienced people," Weinstein says. A competing casino, the Horseshoe, debuts Tuesday in downtown Baltimore.

At the Sheraton Atlantic City Convention Center Hotel on Tuesday, applicants came and went in a trickle throughout the afternoon. Some left with a hiring packet in a manila envelope; others with the promise of a follow-up phone call, or instructions.

"They were very nice. They told me I have to fill out my application online, which I didn't know," says Staci Copeland, 44.

Six months ago, the Clementon resident was hired to work in VIP marketing services at Revel.

An angular tower of mirrored glass that at 57 stories is the tallest building in the city, the luxe resort will close Sept. 1.

"It's hard to believe," Copeland, a grandmother of three, says. "The place is fantastic."

Maryland "offered me a position," says Ivan Rosado, 30, a Revel pastry chef who lives in Pleasantville, N.J.

"I'm ready to pack up and move," adds the father of four. "I hope Atlantic City will survive. It's crazy right now."

I chat with Rosado and Copeland in the lobby of the Sheraton. The place has a vaguely retro theme, with signs for public rooms that bear the names of long-gone Boardwalk hotels like the Shelburne.

The glories of a more recent past are on the minds of currently unemployed job-seekers John Williams and Chris Macaluso.

"We had so many customers from the D.C. and Baltimore area," recalls Williams, a former Taj Mahal poker dealer who lives in Atlantic City.

His interview "was very encouraging," adds Williams, 40. "I'm willing to move."

"I started at Resorts in '78," says Macaluso. In those heady, early days of casino gambling in Atlantic City, Frank Sinatra and his Rat Pack came to town "and I was there."

An Atlantic City resident whose wife works at Harrah's and son at Revel ("he's thinking of moving to San Diego"), Macaluso, 56, was offered a culinary job at Maryland.

"It's nice to be offered, but it's not enough to make a move like that," he says. "I'm not selling my home."

"I've already made temporary housing arrangements" in Maryland, says Gerry Lake, a slots attendant at the Showboat, Revel's neighbor on the north end of the Boardwalk. Showboat is expected to cease operations Aug. 31.

"Right before they decided they were closing, they hired me," says Lake, 53, of Audubon. He calls his Maryland interview "promising."

"It went very well," says Raj Avichal, 54, who's been a cashier at Trump Plaza for 26 years, of his interview. A landmark at the heart of the Boardwalk, it's set to close Sept. 16.

"I hope they call me," Avichal says.

For his sake, I hope so, too.


kriordan@phillynews.com

856-779-3845 @inqkriordan

www.inquirer.com/blinq

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