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Atlantic City Casinos Shut After Sandy Roars Ashore

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Atlantic City was pummeled by Hurricane Sandy on Monday, and the full damage to the Jersey Shore gambling capital is still being assessed. As New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie told reporters at a press conference Tuesday, the "level of devastation at the New Jersey Shore is unthinkable."

Source: Sea Bright Fire Department

A New York Times report on Tuesday, however, did note that "much of the city, particularly inland from the shore, appeared to have survived without great damage" and that "the waist-high floodwaters that surged through the streets on Monday had largely receded."

The north side of the famed Boardwalk reportedly saw a 50-foot stretch washed away amid Sandy's wrath; much of the serious damage seems to have occurred in the northern section of the city.

Hundreds of residents fled inland on Sunday, and gamblers and revelers were forced to evacuate the city's 12 casinos that afternoon after Christie ordered the casinos to close by noon. Caesars Entertainment, owner of Caesars Atlantic City, Harrah's Resort, Bally's Atlantic City and Showboat Atlantic City, posted on its Web sites after the storm: "Due to the effects of Hurricane Sandy, Harrah's Resort, Caesars Atlantic City, Bally's Atlantic City and Showboat Atlantic City will remain closed today, Tuesday, October 30th. Our focus is to ensure the safety of our guests and our employees and all casinos, hotels and other amenities will remain closed until it is safe to reopen. We will provide updates on the reopening of our properties as they become available. Your understanding at this time is greatly appreciated."

Tony Rodio, president of the Tropicana Casino and Resort and chief of the Casino Association of New Jersey, said in a phone interview that the loss of revenue to the casinos was the least of his concerns at this time.

"Cleanup will be small for the casinos themselves," he said, and added that there was actually very little damage to the individual casino properties. The damage, he said, was limited to fallen roof tiles and minor power outages. It will be at least a few more days before the casinos are open for business again, as Rodio and other operators do not want to encourage people to get on the roads and highways in order to try their luck at the blackjack tables.

Atlantic City casinos have closed twice in the past 14 months. The first time was last August when Hurricane Irene hit the Northeast.

Rodio estimates that Irene caused $40 million to $50 million in lost revenue for the state's gaming industry. Rodio would not put a number on how much business NJ casinos were missing because of Sandy, but estimates that the financial impact will be less than Irene, which hit the NJ Shore during a prime summer weekend.

To put in perspective the major East Coast weather incidents that have occurred so close together: This was only the fourth time in 34 years that all 12 casinos were shut down.

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