Atlantic City could be down to eight casinos by September following reports on Friday that the Trump Plaza will close by September 16. State Sen. Jim Whelan told the Press of Atlantic City that “multiple sources” had told him the Plaza would be issuing 60-day layoff notices to its 1,000+ employees on Monday. The casino has yet to comment on the reports but Asemblyman Vince Mazzeo told the Philadelphia Inquirer that he got the news directly from a Trump lawyer.
Vultures have been circling the Plaza for some time, as the casino ranked dead last in AC’s most recent gaming revenue report, falling 24% year-on-year to just $5.2m. A tentative deal to sell the Plaza for $20m and the assumption of its debt was inked last February, but investor Carl Icahn, who holds the mortgage on the property, ultimately quashed the deal for being too low.
Atlantic City’s annus horribilis began on a sour note with the closure of the Atlantic Club, which reduced AC’s casino ranks to 11. Things ramped up in June with Revel declaring bankruptcy for the second time and warnings that it would close for good in August unless a deep-pocketed and slightly insane savior materialized. Later that month, Caesars Entertainment announced it was closing the Showboat by Aug. 31, although it has since said it would be willing to sell the property to anyone foolish enough to want to keep it open.
The Plaza’s closure is unique in that it would be the first AC casino holding a New Jersey online gambling permit to shut its doors. The Plaza has teamed with UK betting exchange Betfair, whose online gambling offering ranked fourth out of six operators on the state’s most recent online revenue chart. Precisely where Friday’s news leaves Betfair is unclear, as the state Division of Gaming Enforcement has yet to encounter such a scenario.
One-third of AC’s original complement of casinos are now slated to disappear and it’s anyone’s guess exactly when the carnage will stop. In true Darwinian fashion, the surviving casinos may well be better off with the weaker members of the herd consigned to extinction. But for the moment, Atlantic City will likely be waiting for yet another shoe to drop.