Atlantic City's Casino Closings for MSNBC. This series focuses on the community of Atlantic City, NJ, it's residents and casino workers who have been affected by a wave of casino closings.
Ruthanne Joyce worked for 28 years at Showboat casino as a bartender. She has two sons. “My husband and I came here 28 years ago. We were hired as husband and wife and we made very good livings. And now to close a profitable casino and put 2,100 people out of work, I just don’t understand it. It’s devastating to the employees. In an eight-month window of time, there will be 8,000 families kicked to the curb after making millions of dollars for casino owners and millions of dollars for the state of New Jersey. The domino effect of 8,000 families is going to be devastating to this area. What will people do?”
Hotel guests rest in the lobby of the Revel during its final day open, Sept. 1, 2014.
Michael Crews has lived in Atlantic City for 10 years. He is an artist and has worked in the casinos for nine years. “If people lose their jobs, they have to figure out what’s next. Beyond the casinos, many have limited skills. You need to ground the people back to reality.”
Atlantic City mayor Don Guardian prepares for a press conference regarding the casino closings.
Kelli Kelsey, 29, is a lifelong Atlantic City resident. She is the mother of two sons. “My building sits on the boardwalk, right across form the Revel and I saw the property battle because they tried to buy my building and put us out of it. They kicked a lot of people out of their homes, some of those homes they tore down. Some of those blocks are empty, completely empty and they are still tearing some of those homes down for a casino that was up for what, maybe two years and now it’s flopping. Now it’s over and it’s just a big skeleton and all the money they put into the casino they could have put into fixing Pacific Ave., Atlantic Ave. and to the playgrounds. They could have put it into the community. It’s basically a giant mirror.”
James Donnell, 25, works in security at Showboat. “I think what’s happening is Atlantic City is falling apart, to be honest with you. You have three casinos going down in a month, that’s crazy. There’s nothing in Atlantic City but the casinos. You go to high school then you get a job at a casino. My first job was at Ceasers. Then to Atlantic Palace. Then to Revel, to Showboat and now two of the casinos where I make my income from are closing.”
A crowd of onlookers gather as the Showboat Hotel and Casino shuts down, Aug. 31st, 2014.
Matt O’brien, 20, is a lifelong Atlantic City resident, and a grounds keeper for the casinos. “Once this season ends, three casinos close and then all the seasonal guys that got hired are going to get laid off and then there will be no work for anybody. I think the city will probably go down to about eight casinos and that’s where its going to level out for now. Its not going to be easy to find work especially as I’m young and I’m on the bottom of the food chain as far as experience goes. I’m just going to have to keep going to school and try to find something.”
Karina Guevara has worked at Trump Plaza for 18 years as a hotel cashier. “The people here are truly my family. They have been with me through hard times. I was going to lose my home four years ago, but they just modified me and with me loosing my job here I think I am going to lose my home because I won’t be able to pay the $900. I have four children to feed, and it’s really going to affect me. My plans are to look for another job, but with almost 7,000 people loosing their jobs it’s going to be hard out here.”