With Atlantic City’s life hanging on a balance, will New Jersey sacrifice five casinos for the two others to live?
Resorts Casino Hotel President Mark Giannantonio made a grim prediction on Thursday that the two new proposed casinos for northern New Jersey near New York City will cause three to five of the eight surviving casinos to close, and potentially destroy Atlantic City.
The Associated Press reported how Giannantonio made a bleak forecast for casinos in Atlantic City comes six months before voters will be asked about approving the construction of two megaresorts that will rival the casinos in NewYork, such as Resorts World Casino in Queens and Empire City Casino in Yonkers.
Among the leading contenders in the planned North Jersey casinos were Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford, home to the NFL’s New York Jets and Giants, and in Jersey City, where Reebok magnate Paul Fireman proposes a casino resort worth about $5 billion.
Citing the economic-impact study which Resorts commissioned, Giannantonio pointed out that at least 23,000 will lose their jobs following the fallout of those three to five casinos and that foreclosures in New Jersey will double.
He is convinced that New York City will retaliate against New Jersey by adding its own casinos in Manhattan or nearby if the opening of twin megaresorts will continue.
“Mark it down in your pads today: It’s going to happen,” Giannantonio said. “The second these two new casinos open in north Jersey, New York City will retaliate violently.”
GIannantonio’s “doomsday” Atlantic City forecast caught the ire of Jeff Gural, the owner of Meadowlands Racetrack who wants to build a casino there, for “stupidly opposing” the referendum as the latter dismissed Resorts’ studies as “meaningless.”
“You guys are nuts,” Gural said. “This is your best chance.”
If the referendum fails,Gural warned that “it’s coming back two years from now with nothing for Atlantic City.”
State Assemblyman Chris Brown, an Atlantic City-area Republican who led the charge against North Jersey casinos, however, doubted whether the planned megaresorts will save Atlantic City from economic catastrophe.
Brown even pointed out that the promise of many subsidies for Atlantic City is a ruse.
“We are in an oversaturated market, and the way we’re going to help Atlantic City is to build another casino to compete with it?” Brown asked. “Anybody who says ‘Don’t listen to studies prepared by experts,’ you should question. Why would they want us to not look at what experts say?”
Meanwhile, Wall Street analysts weighed in on the proposed new casinos in New Jersey.
Without naming a single establishment, Deutsche Bank Securities managing director Andrew Zarnett predicted that “some” of the weaker casinos will close.
Eric Green Sr., managing director of Penn Capital Management, said he is not keen on investing in Atlantic City at the moment, knowing that north Jersey casinos are a possibility.
“I’m pessimistic about what would happen to Atlantic City if those new casinos get approved,” he said.