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As casinos shutter, Atlantic City works at tuning up its convention business

FILE - In this July 23, 2014 file photograph, the Revel Casino Hotel, right, stands along the Boardwalk near Trump Taj Mahal Casino, left, with its Chairman Tower, and the Showboat Casino Hotel, second right, in Atlantic City, N.J. Trump opened his Trump Taj Mahal casino 26 years ago, calling it "the eighth wonder of the world." But his friend and fellow billionaire Carl Icahn is closing it Monday morning, making it the fifth casualty of Atlantic City's casino crisis. (AP Photo/Mel Evans, File)
The Revel Casino Hotel, right, stands along the Boardwalk near Trump Taj Mahal Casino, left, and the Showboat Casino Hotel, second right. (AP Photo/Mel Evans, File)

The struggle to keep ’em coming to Atlantic City after recent casino closings continues. The locals are working to keep the convention and meeting business humming along.

Jim Wood, chief executive officer of Meet AC, says his group continues to book as many as 4,000 rooms on peak nights for organizations. He admits the casino closings have put a dent in the available room capacity.

“We still have some margin, but it is starting to get a little tighter with each closure.”

He says Meet AC is still able to get a room block from casino and hotels in the neighborhood of 7,000 rooms.

Wood says the good news is the Showboat reopened, and they are hoping to get more room capacity for events if the former Revel, now renamed Ten casino resort by new owner Glenn Straub, lights up again.

“So with that back on line, with a combination of Showboat, we will be okay with the number of rooms available for meetings and conventions.”

Ten is tentatively scheduled to open in the summer of 2017.

Wood says everyone is “bullish” on the meetings market because “they are looking to diversify their mix of business a little bit more because there are less gamers coming into the city.” They hope conventions will replace some of the lost gaming revenue.

According to Wood, “last year in Atlantic City, we booked over 260 meetings, representing almost 290,000 hotel room nights, with an economic impact of over $700 million dollars. So we had a terrific year in terms of the booking business for the future. And a lot of that is booked for the next three to six years.”

Wood says there are still people who are confident that Atlantic City will be able to meet their needs. “We are appreciative of all the business that has selected Atlantic City, and we are going to do everything that we can to continue to grow the meetings market, to help offset the gaming market.”

Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5

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