Atlantic City’s Trump Plaza Announces Closure
The gambling industry fortunes of New Jersey and its casino-entertainment hub, Atlantic City, will experience another forced transition, as the Trump Plaza has announced that it will close on September 16th. The casino, named for its initial investor, entrepreneur and investment mogul Donald Trump, will become the third Atlantic City to close within the span of the year. Trump still owns 10% of the casino, which was built in 1984 for a reported $210 million.
The Trump Plaza’s closing will put over 1,000 casino on the unemployment line. The casino’s closing will follow that of the Atlantic Club, which closed last winter after turning down a previous deal with PokerStars parent Rational Group, and the Caesars-owned Showboat Atlantic City will close on Labor Day Weekend after announcing its own closing a couple of weeks ago.
All told, the closures reduce Atlantic City’s active casino count from 12 to 9, and will put almost a third of the area’s casino workers out of work. A fourth Atlantic City property, Revel Casino Hotel, remains mired in legal bankruptcy protection after posting years of losses and may also close if a buyer or other significant investment isn’t found.
The multiple casino closures highlight the growing financial pinch that continues to strangle the struggling Atlantic City casino scene. The city’s dozen casinos had already struggled for years amid both increasing competition from neighboring states and the economic decline of Atlantic City and its famed boardwalk in general. Add in the physical devastation of Hurricane Sandy and Atlantic City’s relatively hard-to-reach locale, and the tourist destination’s overall future has long appeared bleak.
The troubles facing Atlantic City are also part of the impetus behind New Jersey’s approval of online gambling (which is once again designed to give the state an edge over neighboring jurisdictions), and recent state legislative proposals to allow casinos in the state in places other than Atlantic City, which has enjoyed its protected status for more than three decades.
The Trump Plaza has been one of the major losers among the Atlantic City casinos. Through May 2014, the latest month available, Trump Plaza has generated a year-to-date casino “win” of $21.9 million, which is off nearly 27% from the same five-month period in 2013. The other AC casinos which have posted double-digit, year-over-year losses to date are the larger Trump Taj Mahal (off 16.5%), the soon to close Showboat (off 15.6%), and the Caesars-owned Bally’s Atlantic City (off 13.6%).
Overall, Atlantic City’s 12 casinos have posted casino wins 6.5% smaller this year than in the same period for 2013.
Trump Plaza’s parent company, Trump Plaza Associates, also operates one of the 16 currently approved New Jersey online poker/casino sites. That site, www.betfaircasino.com, is powered by European software giant Betfair, but has been unable to capture a significant share of New Jersey’s new online gambling traffic. No announcement regarding the site’s future has been made, but it is likely the site will quietly fold while returning remaining balances to its existing player base.
Trump Plaza Associates, speaking to large outlets such as the Associated Press, confirmed that searches for a possible buyer for the property will continue even as a notice of the impending closure was sent out today to the other casino’s 1,009 workers.
The property was the smallest of the AC casinos in terms of workforce, and was one of three casino properties launched by Donald Trump during Atlantic City’s casino heyday. Trump Taj Mahal is expected to continue on as a solo property, while the third casino, Trump Marina, was sold years ago and rebranded as the Golden Nugget Atlantic City.