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Atlantic City’s 12 waterfront casinos came through the superstorm largely unharmed, and many say they could reopen within hours, if need be.
But that’s not going to happen; New Jersey casino regulators plan to visit each of the gambling halls on Wednesday before deciding when they can all reopen.
“Even though we could all re-open within 24 hours if we wanted to, the bigger question is the infrastructure: access roads, power and the situation in the local communities where our employees and our customers live,” said Tony Rodio, president of the Tropicana Casino and Resort, and head of the Casino Association of New Jersey. “There’s no sense opening if we can’t get people in here.”
The shutdown is costing the casinos a collective $5 million a day in lost revenue.
This marks the fourth time in the 34-year history of legalized gambling in Atlantic City that the casinos were ordered closed. Since gambling began in Atlantic City in 1978, the only other times the resort’s gambling halls closed were during Hurricane Gloria in 1985; during a state government shutdown in 2006 that shuttered the casinos for three days, causing a loss of about $55 million, and for three days in August 2011 as Hurricane Irene approached, causing an estimated $45 million worth of lost business during what would have been one of the busiest weekends of the year.
Nine of the casinos are on the Boardwalk, facing the ocean; three others are in the Marina district, by the Inlet and bay.
But most reported only minor effects, like some small water leaks or a handful of broken windows.
“We had no real damage at all; I don’t know how we didn’t, but we didn’t,” said Don Marrandino, eastern division president of Caesars Entertainment. The company owns four of Atlantic City’s casinos: Harrah’s, Bally’s, Caesars and the Showboat.
The two Trump casinos, Trump Plaza and the Trump Taj Mahal, suffered little more than a few water leaks, said Bob Griffin, CEO of Trump Entertainment Resorts. The “M”s in one of the “Trump” signs at the Taj Mahal blew off, and there were a few broken windows.
“We could be open by tonight if they let us,” Griffin said. “But the real question is how soon our feeder markets will bounce back.”
Griffin predicted the casinos might be permitted to open late Thursday or early Friday, but acknowledged that regulators made no promises.
The Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa had a half-dozen broken windows, but was otherwise unscathed, said Joe Lupo, the casino’s senior vice president.
The big white ball atop Revel, the city’s northernmost casino, remained atop the building despite 90 mph winds that raked Atlantic City during the storm. A small portion of the Boardwalk north of Revel broke up and washed away during the storm; part of the section that washed away had been damaged by previous storms and was already closed off to pedestrians.
Rodio said none of the Boardwalk casinos suffered damage to the walkway in front of their casinos.
The Golden Nugget also was unharmed during the storm, although the Frank S. Farley Marina next to it was damaged by a 70-foot yacht that broke loose during the storm, Golden Nugget general manager Tom Pohlman said.
Wayne Parry can be reached at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC