Already teetering from debt, up to five casinos in Atlantic City may be in jeopardy this fall, according to one casino executive.

In November, New Jersey citizens will cast their vote on a referendum which would allow the opening of up to two casinos in North Jersey. Included in the referendum is a stipulation that up to $200 million of revenue from the new casinos will be sent to Atlantic City for non-casino improvements.

Should the referendum pass, it will mark the first time in the state’s history that casinos have been allowed outside of Atlantic City.

That drastic shift in the state’s gaming history presents a big problem for Atlantic City’s iconic casinos, Resorts Casino and Hotel CEO Mark Giannantonio said this past week at the East Coast Gaming Congress.

The projected effects if the referendum passes

According to Press of Atlantic City, Giannantonio presented a plethora of metrics during a discussion panel, including the following predicted effects of November’s vote:

  • Three to five casinos will close
  • 23,000 in job losses
  • Foreclosures will double
  • Unemployment will double

The statistics were the result of a study that Resorts commissioned; results of that study will be released later this week, Press of Atlantic City reported.

New Meadowlands boss scoffs at report

Jeff Gural, CEO of New Meadowlands Racetrack, sparred with Giannantonio during a Gaming Congress session about the report.

According to NJBiz.com, Gural called the report “crazy” and “meaningless”.

He went on to point out that the revenue sharing aspect of the referendum will bring some much needed improvements to Atlantic City.

“To get to your casino, you have to drive through a slum,” he was quoted as saying to Giannantonio. “You need it more than anybody.”

Sweeney optimistic about Atlantic City’s future

While Giannantonio was rather pessimistic in his forecast, New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney was optimistic.

He was quoted as saying that, though Atlantic City has suffered financially over the years, the city is ready for a rebound – his message was, “The best is still ahead.”

Sweeney said November’s referendum will help, rather than harm, the gambling hot spot.

“When we came up with legislation to expanding gaming, it was to ensure Atlantic City would benefit and have the funding to diversify its economy,” he said.

Sweeney’s words were no doubt supported by the State Assembly’s approval of a package of bills that would give time for Atlantic City to formulate a plan to combat its $550 million debt.

Just four days later, the Senate also passed the bills, and Gov. Chris Christie signed the aid package on Friday. That end months of contentious negotiations over AC in the state.

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J.R. Duren

About

A three-time winner of the Florida Press Club Excellence in Journalism contest, J.R. Duren works as a freelance writer with a focus on the NJ online gambling and online casino industry. He writes for a number of publications, including Bespoke Post, Our Amazing Norway, Barcelona Metropolitan, Snooth, and the Villages Daily Sun.