ATLANTIC CITY - In the latest blow to Atlantic City, layoff notices were issued to Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino employees Monday, advising them that the casino will close in mid-September.
That would make Trump Plaza the fourth casino to close or threaten to close in this resort by fall. It also leaves just one Trump-branded casino - the Trump Taj Mahal - from what used to be three.
About 1,600 workers would be affected by this latest shutdown.
Trump Plaza issued a statement just before noon Monday stating: "WARN notices were sent to the employees of Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino today to advise them that the management and board of directors of Trump Plaza Associates L.L.C. and its parent company, Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc., have been reviewing alternatives to the property. Although this review has not been completed and no final decision has been made, the company expects that it will terminate the operations of Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino on or shortly after Sept. 16, 2014."
Trump Plaza, which opened in 1984, is one of the oldest and smallest casinos here, similar to the Atlantic Club, which closed in January.
In the last month, the $2.4 billion Revel has declared bankruptcy for the second time in just over a year, and Caesars Entertainment Inc., which owns Showboat, announced on June 26 that it planned to close the Mardi Gras-themed casino by summer's end. Owners of each have said they were looking for buyers that could save both casinos. .
The four casinos - Atlantic Club, Revel, Showboat, and Trump Plaza - have employed about 8,900 workers in total, nearly a third of Atlantic City's current workforce. The number of layoffs occurring at the same time is expected to badly wound the Atlantic City and County economies.
Casino union chief Bob McDevitt of Unite Here Local 54 on Saturday called the closures an "impending catastrophe" not just for Atlantic City but for the state, and urged Trenton lawmakers to act on Atlantic City's behalf quickly.
Gambling analysts have said that Atlantic City has too many casinos and too little demand, and must reduce gaming supply to stabilize itself.
The resort has lost nearly half its gaming revenue since 2006 to surrounding states that opened casinos, including Pennsylvania, New York, and, more recently, Maryland.
At least one analyst said Atlantic City's problems had made a casino in North Jersey that much more appealing to some. State Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Gov. Christie acknowledged last week that they were "open" to considering ending Atlantic City's 36-year monopoly on statewide gambling by allowing casinos in North Jersey.
"The closing of another casino in Atlantic City is a short-term positive for existing operators," John Kempf of RBC Capital Markets L.L.C. in New York City said Monday. "However, we believe this makes a North New Jersey casino inevitable, and sadly, Atlantic City's challenges are still in the early stages."
On Friday, local and state politicians in Atlantic County were told by Trump Plaza attorneys that they planned to issue the layoff notices Monday.
"I was hopeful, but I knew the outcome wouldn't be different," said Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo (D., Atlantic), who was among those briefed Friday. "This will have a devastating impact on the local economy, because with all of these casinos closing, it's their workers that support the local shops, restaurants, and franchises."
Dorothy Long, 60, a 30-year employee who works as a cashier for Trump Plaza's restaurants, expressed a faint glimmer of hope after the official word came down.
"We are kind of hoping it's really not going to happen, but it probably will," she said.
Long said she and her colleagues were surprised when Showboat's closing was announced last month, rather than their casino.
"We were like, 'How come we were spared and not Showboat?' " said Long, of Mays Landing. "But then, there it was."
Commuters and visitors coming from the Atlantic City Expressway are greeted by Caesars and Trump Plaza when they enter the city..
"At the end of the expressway you see the big bright letters: Trump Plaza," Richard Goldfarb, 52, a telecom manager and an Atlantic City regular from Holland, Bucks County, wrote in an e-mail Saturday. "It makes the whole area look lively.
"Now what happens when you come in and the first thing you see is a big empty building?"
Nathan Igla, 73, of Blackwood, was passing the casino about 9:30 p.m. Monday as he strolled back to Bally's after a light show at Boardwalk Hall.
"I don't want to see it closed, but I'm not surprised," he said as a light sprinkle fell. "You'd think with its location right in the middle of the Boardwalk that someone would find a way to make it successful. I don't understand that."
Staff writer Suzette Parmley analyzes Atlantic City's casino scene - and its contraction - in an interview with MSNBC at www.inquirer.com/