* Storm rips through casino roofs
* Closures hit industry already suffering tough times
* Gambling could resume in days
By Richard Cowan and Dave Warner
Oct 30 Hurricane Sandy has silenced the
thousands of slot machines and high-rollers who normally crowd
the black jack and roulette tables of Atlantic City, but the
resort's casino companies wager they could be back in business
The storm that swept up the East Coast of the United States
on Monday made landfall near Atlantic City, ripping up several
blocks of its famous boardwalk and tearing roofing off casinos
Atlantic City's dozen casinos were shuttered on Tuesday as
owners assessed damage to an already ailing gambling business
that for decades has defined this New Jersey tourist
"We do have extensive damage to the roofs of some of the
properties," said Gary Thompson, a spokesman for Caesars
Entertainment in Las Vegas, Nevada, which operates four casinos
in Atlantic City.
Thompson said workers were tallying "significant" damage to
the upper floors of some of the casinos. He said crews might be
able to patch up facilities with the goal of resuming business
soon after the state of New Jersey lifts its emergency
"It is possible that hotels will reopen Thursday night and
the casinos Friday morning. But those are very rough estimates,"
Officials at other casinos were not available for comment.
Recorded messages informed callers they were shuttered during
the weather emergency and were refunding guests' reservations.
IF YOU CAN'T GAMBLE, DRINK
With the town's casinos darkened on Tuesday, many Atlantic
City visitors resorted to their second-favorite activity -
Business was booming at Ducktown Tavern and Liquors, on
Atlantic Avenue at the corner of Georgia Avenue, about one block
from the closed Tropicana casino. Two bars inside were jammed by
"There is no place to go other than here. Everybody else
was wiped out," said John Exadaktilos, owner of Ducktown.
Janine Wilkerson, who lives near the casinos in a high-rise
apartment building that lost power in the storm, walked down to
the street from her 15th floor apartment. She said she lived in
Atlantic City for 30 years and was stunned to see such a huge
amount of debris - including pieces of the boardwalk - washed
inland and onto the streets surrounding the casinos.
"We came out to see what we could see," said Wilkerson, who
was walking with her daughter and grandson along an empty
BACK TO BUSINESS
Some industry experts were estimating millions of dollars in
lost revenues For Atlantic City. Thompson said his company
carries insurance for "business interruption" and for property
David Schwartz, director of the Center for Gaming Research
at the University of Las Vegas, said he did not think there
would be any longer term impact beyond a few days worth of lost
Nonetheless, Hurricane Sandy was just one more assault on an
industry that has suffered from growing competition and a
sluggish economy that has consumers guarding their savings.
In 2010, Atlantic City's casinos registered $116 million in
net income following a nearly $937 million loss the previous
year, according to state figures. Even with the turnaround, the
industry is still slumping. In 2004, 6.6 million gamblers
boarded buses for Atlantic City. That figure dwindled to only
3.3 million in 2010.
Christie Setliff, an account representative with a company
that buses gamblers to Atlantic City from Virginia Beach, Va.,
was optimistic Sandy's impact would be fleeting and tourists
would be back in the casinos by the weekend.
"I'm sure by this Saturday, they'll be open again," said
Setliff, who added that she had not been in touch with any
Atlantic City officials about conditions in the resort town.
And as climate change scientists debated whether Sandy was
more evidence of strange weather patterns to come, the Ravel
casino and hotel website was hopeful the crowds would be back
for a concert on Nov. 23.
That is when Aerosmith arrives at the Atlantic City casino
for a stop in its "Global Warming Tour".
(Reporting By Richard Cowan and Aruna Viswanatha in Washington
and Dave Warner in Atlantic City; Editing by Karey Wutkowski and