Could Taj Mahal closure kill Atlantic City businesses?
Non-casino businesses near the northern portion of Atlantic City's gaming district fear the impact of yet another casino closure slated for early October.
They've already taken a hit from two casino shutdowns in the immediate area, both in summer 2014.
The Trump Taj Mahal is expected to begin closing some table games later this month with an overall closing date currently scheduled for Oct. 10.
Across the street from the Taj Mahal, manager Haider Raza at Mehfil Indian Restaurant said the area already looks like a "zombie town" due to fewer casino visitors walking the streets.
Raza, who's seen declining revenue since Superstorm Sandy in 2012, said the closure of the Taj could "kill" the business, especially since the gaming hall attracts Indian clientele.
"If the casinos close, then nobody would wander to this part of the city," Raza said.
Showboat and Revel, next-door neighbors along the northern end of the boardwalk, turned off their lights in August 2014 and September 2014, respectively.
Anthony Catanoso, president of Steel Pier, said a large portion of the pier's market comes out of the casinos. About 20 percent of the pier's visitors stayed at Showboat, Catanoso said, and his business paid the price in summer 2015.
"The closing of the Taj will have the same effect," he said.
Catanoso said the strike this summer by Taj Mahal employees had a "devastating effect" on business as well. Unite Here Local 54 union members conducted the longest casino strike in city history over health and pension benefit cuts.
"They were picketing and chanting and making noise right in front of the pier, which basically had a very horrible impact on our food court and pub out front," Catanoso said.
Despite the impending closure, glimpses of hope remain for area business owners.
In July, Showboat reopened its doors as a hotel only. The 872-room, pet-friendly hotel promotes itself as "just steps from the Steel Pier."
And short-lived Revel is anticipating a rebirth in the first quarter of 2017 with a new name: TEN. It already has a website launched for job seekers and potential corporate customers.
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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at firstname.lastname@example.org.