ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – When Revel, Atlantic City’s $2.4 billion casino shut down in 2014, Meg Timson wondered what would happen to a building that was only about two years old, and already out of business.
Turns out she didn’t need to worry: She’s been rehired for her human resources job now that the casino is reopening under new ownership and a new name: the Ocean Resort Casino.
“It feels like I never left,” she said. “I sat down at my same desk, opened the drawer, and there was a ChapStick that I left there four years ago.”
Timson is one of hundreds of workers who lost their jobs during a brutal two-year stretch in which five Atlantic City casinos shut down who are getting them back again now that their former casinos are reopening this month. That is welcome news in a resort that lost 11,000 jobs since 2014 when the Atlantic Club, Showboat, Revel, Trump Plaza and the Trump Taj Mahal closed down.
On June 28, the Taj Mahal will reopen at noon as the Hard Rock casino. Three hours later, Revel will reopen its doors as the Ocean Resort Casino. Together, they are restoring more than 6,000 lost jobs.
Bob McDevitt, president of the main Atlantic City casino workers’ union, said about a third of those who lost their jobs in the shutdowns retired, another third took jobs with casinos in other states or in other industries and the remaining third got jobs with other Atlantic City casinos.
“These are very tough, resilient workers, and it’s indicative of the kind of workers they are that these casinos want them back,” he said.
Eileen Hendricks, who was Revel’s marketing manager, recalls the day it shut its doors.
“We cleaned things up, made sure the paperwork was in order, walked outside and said to one another, ‘We’ll see each other in a couple weeks. We all thought it would be a short time till there was another buyer.”
There was. Florida investor Glenn Straub bought Revel from bankruptcy court, but failed to reopen it over three years. He sold to Colorado developer Bruce Deifik in January, who quickly began preparing for its rebirth.
Hendricks took a job at the Golden Nugget in Lake Charles, Louisiana, all the while pining for Atlantic City.
“The whole time I was in Louisiana, I was watching this place, watching, watching, watching,” she said. “I knew it was too beautiful of a place to stay closed forever.”
David Petruzzi ran the cash-counting room at Revel, and will do so at Ocean Resort. He got a job at the Borgata, but was recruited to come back once Revel planned to reopen.
“Revel was a missed opportunity for Atlantic City,” he said. “I really think this place is going to succeed this time.”
There are two particular counting machines at the casino that his co-workers want to nickname “Ocean’s 11″ and Ocean’s 12,” in honour of the movie series about spectacular casino robberies.
“I said no; ‘A’ and ‘B’ will do just fine,” Petruzzi said.
Alfred Kare was a waiter for 20 years at the Taj Mahal. When that job ended in October 2016, he got a gas utility job to help pay the bills. Hard winters outdoors in the rain and snow made him appreciate the chance to return to what is now Hard Rock even more.
“This is what I was born to do,” he said. “The money we made from this casino was what we raised our families on and took our kids on vacation with.”
Ramona Moran was a cocktail server at Revel. When it closed, she gave up on the casino industry and worked as a substitute teacher. Now, she’s going back to work serving drinks at Hard Rock.
“I never thought I’d be back working in a casino again,” she said. “When those doors open, it’s going to be like going to a premiere of a movie you’ve waited a long time to see.”
Follow Wayne Parry at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC