Thinking about whiling away Hurricane Sandy this weekend by pulling the slot handles down at Atlantic City?
Think again. Gov. Chris Christie Saturday ordered Atlantic City’s 12 casinos to shut down by Sunday afternoon as part of the statewide emergency declaration. It’s only the fourth time in the 34 years gambling’s been legal in Atlantic City that the casinos were ordered shut down. Last year, Hurricane Irene shut the casinos down for three days in August – and Sandy’s expected to be just as bad or even worse.
Sandy’s already responsible for more than 40 deaths as it’s made its way north from the Caribbean, and it’s expected to turn into a deadly combination, nicknamed “Frankenstorm,” by the time it hits the New England states.
Christie is giving the casinos until 4 p.m. Sunday to clear out their guests, but some are speeding up the deadline. The two Trump casinos are asking guests to check out by 11 a.m. Sunday and to be off the premises by 2 p.m.
Some guests are grumbling and think the casinos would be a safe place to ride out the storm, but Mayor Lorenzo Langford Saturday urged people to take the warnings seriously and leave town. And Emergency Management Director Tom Foley recalled a 1962 that brought the storm surge into the city.
Despite the mandatory evacuation order, the city knows everyone won’t leave, so it’s offering to bus residents to mainland shelters and is opening the schools a public shelters. Roads going into town will close at 4 p.m. Sunday, but outbound roads will remain open until 10 p.m. or close sooner if winds get to 40 miles per hour or more.
Casino personnel took down many of the billboards lining the sides of Atlantic City Expressway Saturday, knowing they’d be shredded, and others removed summer beach bar gear and items from their roofs and started boarding up windows.
The mandatory closures will cost the casinos millions. Irene closed the casino doors for three days, costing $45 million in lost business. However, the damages might not be so bad, because Irene hit during a busy summer weekend, while Sandy is hitting at the beginning of an October week, when the city isn’t as busy.