Not surprisingly then, one of the most innovative new ideas harks from the developer of the Chelsea, the first high-end non-gaming hotel built here in four decades.
With legislation that will be introduced this fall, Curtis Bashaw, co-founder of developer Cape Advisors, said he hopes to convert the fifth floor of his boardwalk hotel into a boutique gaming floor, focused on intimate table games and devoid almost entirely of slot machines. The pool would have private cabanas where dealers could host games for private groups. The concept is in stark difference to the current model employed by the city's big casinos businesses, employing gaming as an add-on to the hotel business.
"The rooms are a very profitable component, but what we want to do with the gaming amenity is control our destiny on rate," Bashaw said. "Right now we are at the mercy of whatever casinos decide to charge because their model is of the inverse because they're not a hospitality company primarily, but a gaming company. So we're adding gaming to a hospitality component as a way to add a revenue stream but also stabilize our own room rates."
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Bashaw hopes to lure a new demographic with this concept: young urban professionals, the very same group that Revel had targeted.
But as Revel and The Showboat sit vacant on the boardwalk, the more pressing issues snap back into focus. Two massive spaces are now empty and dark, a literal black spot on the city's nighttime skyline that will have to try and withstand squatters while the race to find new owners unfolds.
The local gaming union expects 5,000 people to come through the city's convention center for a job fair—hosted by Unite-HERE, the city and the state—that runs through Sept. 10. One hundred stations were set up to do unemployment intake, with translators speaking nine different languages.
"I will be filing for unemployment this week, just like almost everybody," said Ruthann Joyce, a bartender at The Showboat since 1987. "I'm hoping someone buys the Showboat—it's still profitable—and all the workers and all the customers go back."
But the odds are long. In an internal memo circulated Friday, Caesars Entertainment CEO Gary Loveman said 470 Showboat employees had been hired at other Caesars' establishments, roughly half those that had applied for positions within the company.
—By CNBC's Morgan Brennan