As Atlantic City's fortunes fade, casino workers fear bleak future

Thu Jul 10, 2014 4:34pm EDT
 
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By Daniel Kelley

ATLANTIC CITY N.J. (Reuters) - After 19 years working as a cook at Atlantic City's Showboat Casino, Dave Rose is counting the weeks until he and about 2,000 fellow workers lose their jobs when the casino is shuttered at the end of the summer.

The Showboat will be the second major casino to close in this struggling New Jersey shore city this year, a trend that has some tourism officials talking about revamping the aging gambling Mecca to broaden its appeal beyond bachelor parties and bus loads of retirees, with more family-friendly attractions.

"They've been saying that for ten years," said Rose, who holds out little hope of that strategy working and fears he will have a hard time finding a job that matches the $18.18 per hour he earns at the Showboat.

"There aren't too many good-paying jobs out there," he said. The unemployment rate in the city stood at 10.3 percent in May, among the highest of any major U.S. metropolitan area and well above the national rate, which was at 6.3 percent in May, and has since fallen to 6.1 percent in June.

FALLEN HARD

Atlantic City, which once held a lucrative East Coast gambling monopoly, has fallen hard. Gaming revenue has fallen to $2.8 billion, a little more than half its 2006 peak of $5.2 billion.

The decline reflects the opening of new casinos in the northeastern United States in recent years: New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and Connecticut today all have casinos and Massachusetts is in the process of awarding licenses.   Continued...

 
A view from the boardwalk of several casinos in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in this file photo from March 14, 2009. REUTERS/Tim Shaffer/Files