While the 2012 World Series of Poker Main Event final table is cause for celebration in Las Vegas this week, the story is much different for another poker hotbed in United States. Atlantic City, New Jersey has been ravaged by Hurricane Sandy, displacing residents, destroying the famous Boardwalk, and forcing all twelve of its casinos to close. This may be the most exciting time of the year for the poker world, but there is no celebrating in Atlantic City today.
Atlantic City’s casinos have been shuttered since Sunday, when New Jersey Governor Chris Christie ordered the coast to be evacuated. All have announcements on their website urging visitors to check back later in the week for further information. Appearing on the home page of Bally’s:
As we continue to monitor the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, our four Atlantic City properties will remain closed. Our focus is to ensure the safety of our guests and our employees. We will provide updates on the reopening of our properties as they become available. Your understanding at this time is greatly appreciated.
Bally’s is owned by Caesars Entertainment, which also operates the Harrah’s, Caesars, and Showboat casinos in Atlantic City.
The Borgata announced that it was not taking reservations through yesterday, but has not updated its Hurricane Sandy message to reflect any new status.
Tony Rodio, president of the Casino Association of New Jersey and CEO of the Tropicana, told the Press of Atlantic City that he estimates the resort town’s dozen casinos are losing $4.5 million to $5 million per day just from gaming revenues. That does not count lost revenues from the hotels, stores, and restaurants.
According to the Press, this is only the fourth time Atlantic City casinos have been totally shut down since the first casino opened in the city in 1978, though it is the third in the past six years. Hurricane Irene caused a shut down last year while a New Jersey budget crisis did the same in 2006. The first shut down was the result of Hurricane Gloria in 1985.
There is a chance that the casinos might be able to open Thursday, though nothing has been determined as of Wednesday night. With financial losses mounting, the casinos are anxious to hear from Gov. Christie about a lifting of the evacuation order. “The weekends have been more impactful for Atlantic City,” said Joe Lupo, executive vice president of operations at the Borgata. “While we’re hoping to open by then, we’re obviously going to support the governor’s role. The safety of our employees and customers is the most important thing.”
While $5 million per day is a lot of money, if the casinos can open by the weekend, the financial damage could be minimized to some extent. Late October is part of the Atlantic City off-season and the closures have been during the week. Compare that to Hurricane Irene, which forced casinos to close for three days during the last weekend of August, timing which was estimated to cost the casinos $40 million to $45 million
Rodio said that there does not appear to be major damage to any of the casinos, but damage to the city’s infrastructure which would affect customers’ abilities to get to and from the properties, is of concern.