ATLANTIC CITY — Boosted by the opening of two gaming halls at the end of June, the number of casino employees in the city has topped 30,000 for the first time in years.

The count is still a far cry from the tally during the city's heyday, but it's seen as a promising sign for the long-struggling resort.

According to the newest figures from the state Division of Gaming Enforcement, Atlantic City's nine casinos employed 30,217 part-time and full-time workers in July. That's nearly 7,000 more than the same time last year.

In their first full month of operations, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino and Ocean Resort Casino combined to employ 8,184 workers. At 5,938, Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa registered the highest employee count in July. Golden Nugget's count of 2,312 employees was the lowest recorded.

Full-time workers accounted for 73 percent of the total employee pool.

The last time the industry employed more than 30,000 workers in a month — in 2014 — 11 casinos were up and running.

"What this indicates to me is that Atlantic City's down business has bottomed out. We're now on an upward curve," said Bob McDevitt, president of the Unite Here Local 54 casino union. "I believe this is a sign that the city has turned a corner."

According to McDevitt, Hard Rock hired roughly 800 former employees of the Taj Maha, which shut its doors in late 2016 and was eventually replaced by the rock-themed casino-hotel.

McDevitt believes individuals who are new to the casino industry make up a good amount of the employee increase from last year to this year.

"This year, with the opening of Hard Rock and Ocean Resort, there was a significant uptick in young people 18 to 25 being hired in the industry," he said.

The addition of sportsbooks at a handful of the city's casinos — including Resorts' and Golden Nugget's launch on Wednesday — is boosting the count as well.

According to DGE, Atlantic City's casino industry employs at least one person from each of New Jersey's 21 counties.

McDevitt said some of his members live as far north as Middlesex and Union counties, and Chinatown in New York City.

When gambling revenue hit a record $5.2 billion in 2006, the city's casinos employed more than 50,000 people, McDevitt said.

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