Atlantic City Workers Face Tough Odds As Casino Industry Crashes

5 ways workers in any dying company town can act

Atlantic city, boardwalk at night
Getty

It hasn't been a good year for Atlantic City and the bad news just keeps on coming. The result is more and more unemployed workers in an already less than robust local economy. First, The Atlantic Club shut its doors in January 2014. Then, in June, Caesar's entertainment, owner of four different casino properties, announced the closing of Showboat, the New Orleans' themed casino at the other end of the Boardwalk.

Now, before the area's high summer season is over, officials have announced that Revel, the newest and perhaps the most lavish of the AC casinos, will close in September. Revel alone may account for 3,000 jobs and estimates are as high as 6,000 jobs lost across all properties, especially with rumors rampant that two Trump logo'd properties may not be far behind in closing doors. The politicians are coming out in force as this type of massive unemployment in any state is devastating. It's to New Jersey what cars are to Detroit, or steel was to Pittsburgh. For the casino industry, it's what many claim is a long overdue pruning, likely giving healthier casinos room to grow. But for the workers who relied on gaming for a living, the odds of finding new employment in the same industry is bleak.

It's not just Black Jack dealers who are affected. The ranks of the unemployed are likely to include accountants, marketing and PR colleagues, cocktail waitresses, cleaning crews, and, yes, table game dealers. The ripple effect will touch local restaurants, retail outlets, health clubs, nail salons, medical providers, and pet sitters –- to name a few -- whose own businesses relied heavily on local casino employees. Some pundits even claim AC's woes are likely to affect Governor Chris Christie's own job prospects.

Local politicians are coming out in force to consider options. The boisterous Governor Christie has long been an advocate of the area and, as he did with Sandy, is quickly putting himself on the scene to address concerns. But he's not alone. The newly elected Mayor Don Guardian and relatively new Senator Cory Booker are also considering options with Booker floating the possibility of federal grant monies for retraining. The problem is so large, it's one of the few that seems to have bi-partisan attention.

But while all this political positioning goes on, workers are rightly worried and wondering what will become of them. Here are five options that may be helpful to consider both for AC workers and those outside of the AC gaming community.
  • Relocate. The gaming industry is under siege across the country, but jobs are available in other states from Nevada to New York. Many ex-AC casino workers are already doing long commutes to Philly and Delaware-based properties, while leaving families intact at local schools. This is a personal decision that involves an entire family and one that is never made lightly, but it can buy a person time to stay employed while reviewing other options.

>> Related Article: How a sales guy left the area to land a job where jobs were more fertile.
  • Redefine Your Skill Set. Several casinos are holding job fairs and inviting employers from other industries to meet their workers. It's a great gesture, but unlikely to work unless employees learn to redefine their skills. If you know how to deal cards at a Table Game, you quickly need to redefine yourself as good at math and having great people skills rather than labeling yourself as just a "Dealer."
  • Retrain. Don't wait for the ax to fall. Don't waste time and start retraining and focusing on your job search immediately. Learn new computer skills, get certifications, or enroll in classes that will help you recreate yourself in another industry.
>> Related Article: Making Hard Career Choices
  • Reintroduce Yourself. Now is the time to immediately check your contacts, talk to patrons, and network aggressively. Let people know that your job is winding down and you're looking for new options. Don't limit yourself. Ask anyone and everyone how you might be able to apply your skills in their industry and ask for meet and greets with hiring managers to learn more about new industries that might be more welcoming.
  • Reimagine Solutions. Since necessity is the mother of invention, perhaps this is the chance to be part of the solution. Perhaps this is the time to start a new venture with your colleagues that helps groups re-engineer talents. Do you know groups who have special artistic or culinary skills that have gone unnoticed? Perhaps this is the time to rally forces and create a new business or business model that lets entire groups support each other in developing something new.

These options are not mutually exclusive. The news in Atlantic City is definitely grim, but entire cities have reinvented themselves before. Now it seems it's Atlantic City's turn -- one person at a time.

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Goodgirl

Give the gamblers and their families something to do. There is an ocean out there. Not one cruise if offered. There are no good eateries along the shopping venues. There is not one slot machine not catering to the majority rules principal. The entire area is dull and boring. The shops play better music than any of the casinos. Security blocks the doors of the disco's, parking fees are ridiculous, the food is no good, coffee sucks, the gaming commission is a joke, Blacks may just as well hand their money to a caucasion rather than play the slots themselves, the water is undrinkable, hotel beds have bugs, no Fun in them hills........

October 21 2014 at 12:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
noadmail

Type your comment here

So goes the crime, corruption and socially draining addictions along with it

October 15 2014 at 3:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
doncheech

the caravans of buses that shipped seniors to AC during the weekdays ( mon thru Thursday) with their pension and SS checks is gone. I remember AC in its heyday 1980-2000 the buses would pull up full day and night, that's the meat and potatoes of the casino revenue. they are either dead or too old or got tired of being fleeced. the weekend warrior cant support a casino.....except for the Borgata.

October 15 2014 at 1:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Steve Winfield

Maybe New Jersey's favorite son said it best... "Everything dies, baby that's a fact. But maybe everything that dies, someday comes back... Put your makeup on, fix your hair up pretty, and meet me tonight, in Atlantic City"...

September 15 2014 at 8:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Iselin007

Instead of creating jobs that build skills for private sector workers the states opt for any crap jobs that will build up revenue for their bloated budgets and double dipping employees with fat pensions and salaries. If they wanted to help they would chase out all these imported visa workers from using our job market for their own!

With older workers being crushed by the onslaught of cheap imported labor and an exploding massive amount of disgruntled people age 16 and over with out jobs we need to curtail immigration, work visas, and trade deal continuation. Bring the jobs here and stop screwing American Citizens!

August 20 2014 at 11:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
The Canoli King

Why did Governor Christie allow New Jersey ON-LINE gambling? It seems to me to be counter-productive ,if he seriously wanted to keep Atlantic City Casino's afloat.

August 18 2014 at 8:52 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
geezerearl

Not real surprised.So many states have legalized gambling AC and Vegas rnt the
only game in town.

August 18 2014 at 8:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
idowindows1

THE GREED THAT HAS CREPT INTO THE INDUSTRY HAS BEEN ITS DEATH GO BACK TO THE DAY WHEN EVERYTHING WAS FREE AND THE MACHINES WERE LOOSE AND EVERYONE WILL COME BACK TO AC THE BOARDROOM CORPORATIONS AND THE INDIAN TRIBES HAVE BECOME TOO GREEDY TO FIGURE OUT IT DONT MATTER HOW MUCH YOU GIVE THEM OR PAY OUT THEY WILL LOOSE LITTLE TIMMYS COLLAGE MONEY BEFORE THEY LEAVE TOWN

August 18 2014 at 7:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
loonatik1

I go to Atlantic City (Caeser's) quite often and was really surprised to learn how little dealers and other casino workers earn when they ARE working. That's why they rely so heavily on tips, so try to remember that when you win a nice hand.

August 18 2014 at 6:15 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to loonatik1's comment
john

f that I win I take who cares about what people are making everything is a handout while the suits upstairs rack it in. if you are stupid enough to take a low paying job, tough on you!!

August 18 2014 at 7:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
doncheech

they shuffle cards and spin little white balls on a wheel for a living.....they made good money during the heyday.....the heyday is gone.

October 15 2014 at 1:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
toneitup

The nice thing is once all the buildings are shut down they will have a nice place to film the walking dead? Hey out of work they need zombie extras

August 18 2014 at 4:51 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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