Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino became the fourth Atlantic City casino to close its doors this year, leaving the Boardwalk Empire with only eight gambling centers and costing about 8,000 workers their jobs.
It’s parent company, Trump Entertainment Resorts, filed for bankruptcy Sept. 9 and has threatened to also shut its Trump Taj Mahal Casino resort in November, a move that could put another 3,000 Atlantic City casino workers out of work.
Atlantic City, home of the Miss America Pageant and the inspiration for the original board game Monopoly, went through a radical building boom during the early part of the 20th century.
The 1920s, with tourism at its peak and Prohibition largely unenforced due to the influence of racketeer and political boss Enoch L. “Nucky” Johnson, are considered by many historians as Atlantic City’s golden age. Prohibition, the national ban on alcohol sales that lasted from 1919 until 1933, was glamorized in the fictional HBO television series Boardwalk Empire.
Like many older east coast cities after World War II, Atlantic City became plagued with poverty, crime, corruption, and a long period of economic decline in the mid-to-late 20th century.
New Jersey voters passed a 1976 referendum betting on casino gambling to revitalize the resort community and by end of the 1980s, Atlantic City achieved success as the most popular tourist destination in the United States.
Republican Chris Christie’s tenure as Governor has been a catastrophe. In 2010, New Jersey’s casinos employed approximately 33,000 workers, had 28.5 million visitors, made $3.6 billion in gaming revenue, and paid $278 million in taxes.
As of September 2014, the greater Atlantic City area has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country at 13.8%, and one-third of its gaming halls have closed as competition in neighboring states led to seven straight years of decline.
By propping up the $2.4 billion Revel Casino Hotel with tax incentives, state subsidized worker training, and infrastructure support, Christie not only threw good money after bad but he may have triggered a domino effect: the Atlantic Club went out of business in January, Showboat closed on Aug. 31, and Tuesday was the last day for Trump Plaza.
Revel survived until Sept. 2, when it closed without ever turning a profit.
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