Steamy casinos deprived of AC

Utility problems in Atlantic City knocked out air-conditioning at Caesars, Trump Plaza.

ATLANTIC CITY - The cards and dice are hot at two Atlantic City casinos - and so is everything else.

The air-conditioning was out at Caesars and Trump Plaza on Thursday because of overnight utility problems. It also was out at Boardwalk Hall.

There was electricity but no cool air while the weather approached 80 degrees.

John Fencik of Bayonne walked through the famously hot glass-lined pedestrian skyway linking Trump Plaza's parking garage to the casino.

"It's always hot in the walkway, so I started pulling and tugging at my shirt, saying, 'It's getting hot in here,' " he said. "I walked into the casino, and it got worse. I started thinking, 'Do I have a fever?' "

The loss of air-conditioning could not have come at a worse time for the casinos - exactly in the middle of the crucial summer season, when they take in the most revenue from gamblers and overnight guests. Atlantic City is in the fourth straight year of a revenue decline that began when the first slots parlors opened in Pennsylvania and began stealing some of the resort's most reliable customers.

'Just too much'

Rosemary Coscio of Cape May spent most of Wednesday night fiddling with the controls for the air-conditioning in her hotel room at Trump Plaza - and wondering why the room got no cooler.

"It was really warm in there," she said. "And the casino is hot, too."

Dorothy Collins of Bayshore, N.Y., had just arrived at Caesars for a several-day stay, but walked out after 10 minutes, the heat unbearable.

"It was very uncomfortable," she said, adding that she has breathing problems, "and it was just too much."

In the casino's lobby, staffers handed out bottles of water. On the casino floor, idle dealers fanned themselves with cards as they waited for players to approach empty tables.

Caesars offered to transfer any guests who wanted to leave the hotel to any of the other three casinos its parent company operates in Atlantic City.

Leaking pipe

The problem involved a leaking pipe connection from a utility plant that provides cooling and cold water to businesses in the area, including casinos, said Sandra May, a spokeswoman for the plant's owner, Pepco Energy Services. She said she could not say when the leak might be repaired and air-conditioning restored.

Neil Goldfine, executive director of the Atlantic City Municipal Utilities Authority, said the thermal plant chills water from the utilities authority and sends it underground through large pipes.

"If they can't get enough water through their pipes, the air-conditioning goes out," he said.

It was not clear whether other businesses were affected. Many smaller businesses use wall-mounted or central air-conditioning units that depend on electricity, not water circulation, and were presumably unaffected.

Workers set up fans inside the casinos, and large air-conditioning trucks were brought in to provide temporary relief.

Trump Plaza canceled its "V: The Ultimate Variety Show" for Thursday night because of the outage.