Displaced workers seek help in A.C. as officials envision future of empty casinos

 About 500 jobless casino workers visited an unemployment resource center set in Atlantic City. It will remain open until Sept. 10 when a job fair will take place. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

About 500 jobless casino workers visited an unemployment resource center set in Atlantic City. It will remain open until Sept. 10 when a job fair will take place. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

A resource center is now open at the Atlantic City Convention Center to assist the thousands of people put out of work by the closing of the Revel and Showboat casinos. 

On its first day, about 500 displaced employees filed applications for unemployment benefits, signed up for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act, and applied for energy and food assistance.

Washington Township resident Ruth Ann Joyce and her husband, who have tended bar at the Showboat casino since it opened in 1987, said the loss of the good-paying jobs will be tough on her family.

But Joyce, who also had been working part time at Revel, said she’s hoping to find other work in the casino industry.

“I think Showboat and or Revel will both reopen, at which point I will be optimistic,” she said.

New Jersey Labor Commissioner Hal Wirths said he expects that many of those who have lost their casino jobs will end up working in other industries.

“Health care is still a growing industry through the recession. We have trades and transportation logistics, all different types of jobs, retail jobs,” Wirths said Wednesday. “The exact jobs we’ll be finding out as we’ve been working with employers to find out exactly what they’re looking to hire.”

As former employees of the closed Revel and Showboat casinos in Atlantic City ponder their future, officials were speculating about the future of the shuttered buildings.

Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian said he believes the Showboat building would be suitable for non-gaming activities and the Revel property could reopen as a casino.

“It wasn’t run well as a casino. It needs some redesign work,” Guardian said of the skyscraping Revel facility. “You need a company that knows how to run and casino, and there’s three or for worldwide that could easily do that job … anyone buying it is definitely going to be bringing them in there.”

Senate President Steve Sweeney offered another vision for the Revel building’s next life.

“It could possibly be turned into time shares, it could be condos,” he said. “It’s beachfront property, and that’s very valuable.”

The buildings have not been sold because the owners have not received what they call an acceptable offer for any potential buyer.

Meanwhile, business is expected to continue briskly at the resource center, which will remain open until Sept. 10. On that day, about 40 employers are expected to attend a job fair.

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