If you’re going to get snowed in, you might as well do it at a casino.
While Atlantic City gaming halls, just as the rest of southern New Jersey, were affected by Sunday’s blizzard, casino representatives reported strong occupancy rates and a festive atmosphere as people were eating, drinking and gambling inside while the snow was piling up outside.
“It’s a great place to be snowed in,” said Mary Moyer, public relations and advertising manager for the Tropicana Casino and Resort. “All of the restaurants and bars at The Quarter are open, and we’re doing everything we can to make our guests comfortable.”
Resorts Casino Hotel spokeswoman Courtney Birmingham reported solid room occupancy Sunday, noting that many guests who stayed at the casino Saturday extended their stay Sunday.
“Obviously, there was some impact from the storm, but because the storm started late in Philadelphia, a lot of our Philadelphia guests were able to get down early,” she said. “Our New York guests got caught up in the weather, though. The room cancellations exceeded extensions, but our occupancy is only a bit off. ... It’s nothing extreme.”
Shep Stein, director of security for Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort, agreed: “We saw people checking in early this morning and afternoon ... trying to get here ahead of the storm.”
Stein said the casino-hotel had about 1,500 of its approximately 2,000 rooms occupied by about 6 p.m., and he said people were still checking in.
“We think it will get to about 1,600 to 1,700,” he said. “We’re busy. We’re going to be about 75 percent occupancy. People like being snowed in at a casino. Because of the holiday weekend, they are not worried about getting back like they would on a normal weekend. A lot of people are on vacation and just making the most of out it.”
Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa had between 1,500 to 1,800 of its 2,800 rooms, including at The Water Club, occupied by guests Sunday. Senior Vice President of Operations Joe Lupo said a “light-hearted” atmosphere could be felt around the casino.
“We had some cancellations, obviously, but people are here enjoying themselves and waiting out the storm,” he said. “What’s really interesting about storms is the way the customers and employees band together more than ever to have a good time. We have the comedy club going tonight, and the restaurants are open. ... It’s not a bad place to get snowed in.”
All of the casinos were operating with reduced staffs after many employees couldn’t make it into work because of poor road conditions and a state of emergency. All of the casinos offered employees complimentary rooms and toiletries, and cafeteria privileges were also enhanced.
“Safety is our primary concern,” Birmingham said.
“We don’t want the staff endangering themselves,” said Tony Sanza, director of food and beverage for Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino, who said the casino closed its gourmet restaurants for Sunday and today. “Our staff is more important than having every restaurant open.”
Bally’s Atlantic City and Caesars Atlantic City went one step further, offering rooms to medical personnel from AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center, City Campus.
Patrons also had no difficulty finding something to eat. All casinos had multiple food and beverage options available.
“We have more than 50 percent of our rooms occupied, so that means you have more than half a hotel full of guests who need to eat and be treated well,” said Sanza, nothing that its 24 Central Cafe and Jezebel’s bar remained open. “It’s our job to make it a great experience whether if it’s snowing or not.”
At Resorts, Italian gourmet restaurant Capriccio offered its usual Sunday brunch, and Breadsticks, its 24-hour cafe, and Boardwalk Perks coffee shop remained open. Gallagher’s, the independently owned steakhouse at the casino, also opened for dinner Sunday and plans to offer dinner today as well.
It was “business as usual” at the Atlantic City Hilton Casino Resort. Spokeswoman Tina Belluscio said Nick’s Burger Bar, The Coffee Shop and Patsy’s Italian restaurant were all open Sunday. The eateries plan to operate normally today, too.
“For us, very few people canceled,” Belluscio said. “So there was no reason to change operations. “
The Taj had plenty of options as well. Aside from the gaming floor, Plate, its 24-hour cafe; both Il Mulino restaurants; the Hard Rock Cafe; Dynasty, its gourmet Asian restaurant; Sbarro and The Rim noodle bar were all open. The Sultan’s Feast buffet was also open and was scheduled to reopen 7 a.m. for breakfast.
Borgata’s three gourmet restaurants — Bobby Flay Steak, SeaBlue and Fornelletto — were also open, along with its buffet and The Cafeteria food court. Its mixx nightclub, however, was closed Sunday night.
“We were certainly expecting a good day today and tomorrow,” Lupo said. “So it’s a little disappointing because it won’t reach our expectations, but there’s nothing you can do. You have to make the most of it.”
Lupo said it could have been a lot worse: the snow could have come later in the week and spoiled plans for New Year’s, which is typically one of the best times of the year for casino revenue.
“As long as it warms up and we can receive our shipments and deliveries from vendors for New Year’s, this shouldn’t be a big problem,” Lupo said. “If this snow came Wednesday or Thursday, this could have been much more detrimental.”
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