ATLANTIC CITY — Simulcast betting on horse racing will come to an end at Tropicana Casino and Resort after a 15-year run.
Over the objections of employees and customers, the casino plans to close its simulcast parlor following two years of declining revenue.
The New Jersey Casino Control Commission, noting that nine simulcast employees will lose their jobs, reluctantly approved the shutdown at Tropicana’s request. The commission said its hands essentially are tied because casinos may make changes to their gaming floor.
“It’s a business decision by Tropicana,” Commission Chair Linda M. Kassekert said. “Whether it’s a good decision or a bad decision, it’s their business decision.”
Simulcast facilities allow casino customers to bet on horse races broadcast from tracks across the country. Tropicana will now be the fifth of Atlantic City’s 11 casinos that do not have simulcast betting. The four others are the Atlantic City Hilton Casino Resort, Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino, Trump Marina Hotel Casino and Resorts Atlantic City.
Favorites At Vineland at South Delsea Drive, Vineland, still takes simulcast bets on horse races. It was the first of New Jersey’s off-track betting parlors, which opened in 2007.
Mario DiGuiseppe, Tropicana’s vice president of casino operations, told the commission that simulcast revenue has dropped 38 percent in the past two years and the facility is unprofitable.
“At some point, it just becomes not a good business proposition,” he said.
In an interview after the commission meeting Wednesday, DiGuiseppe declined to say how much Tropicana has lost at the facility. Tropicana employees said they were told by management that the loss was $18,000 last year.
Employees claimed that the simulcast parlor could become profitable again if management made a stronger commitment toward its operation.
“The closing of Tropicana’s racebook should not be allowed to happen. Solely on the basis of mismanagement, I have seen the racebook change,” said Elizabeth Jackson, one of the simulcast workers who will lose their jobs.
Jackson, of Egg Harbor Township, and other Tropicana employees appeared at the commission meeting to oppose the closing.
Virginia Castro, a simulcast supervisor, said Tropicana’s management has all but ignored the facility, leaving it with broken TV screens, obsolete equipment and fewer seats for horse-racing bettors.
“With what I can only categorize as a total abandonment from upper management, our department has been methodically deprived of even the most basic elements with which to operate,” said Castro, who lives in Egg Harbor Township.
Kassekert urged employees to report any alleged casino violations or mismanagement practices to the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement for investigation. She also expressed concerns about the simulcast employees who will be fired. Kassekert also noted she had received a petition signed by more than 100 Tropicana customers who support simulcast betting.
Ernie Grecco, president of the Metropolitan Baltimore Council of AFL-CIO unions, said the labor group would not have held its leadership conference at Tropicana had it known the casino planned to close down the simulcast facility.
“If this is not corrected, we will not come back to Tropicana and, possibly, to Atlantic City,” Grecco warned.
DiGuiseppe said the timing of the shutdown still must be set. Tropicana has not yet decided what will replace the simulcast area.
Contact Donald Wittkowski: