Atlantic City's casinos expected to reopen over the weekend

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Gaming venues in Atlantic City, N.J., remained closed Friday, but could reopen over the weekend if New Jerseys lawmakers are able to quickly approve a long delayed state budget designed to close a $4 billion deficit and return thousands of furloughed government employees, including casino inspectors, back to work.

Casino inspectors responsible for supervising the gaming activity in Atlantic City along with some 80,000 other government employees were furloughed during the week when the July 1 deadline for approving New Jerseys budget came and went as the governor and state legislators wrestled over how best to close deficit.

A budget deal that includes certain spending cuts and an increase in the states sales tax from 6% to 7% was finally reached on July 6.

Governor Jon Corzine said Thursday that he anticipates the state legislature would approve the new budget within 36 hours.

Once the budget is approved, employees can return to work and we can begin the orderly process of reopening all facets of government and the private sector that have been unfortunately forced to shutter, Corzine said in a statement.

This absolutely must not happen again, Corzine said. Our budget process and procedures are flawed, and we have an obligation to fix them.

In meantime, the New Jersey Casino Control Commission is standing by.

Once the governor notifies us that our employees can return to work, we will notify a group of our inspectors to get into the casinos as quickly as possible and start the reopening process, Daniel Heneghan, the commissions spokesman, told TravelWeekly.com. That process should take more than a few hours.

Assuming the state legislature approves the new budget by late Saturday, it is conceivable he said that the casinos could be open that evening.

We have identified inspectors on our staff who live right in Atlantic City [or nearby] and they will be the first ones we call, Heneghan said. We will make sure that we get at least one inspector into each casino as quickly as possible and that will enable them to start to open.

It is unclear what economic impact the shutdown has had on Atlantic Citys casinos, but officials said the government lost an estimated $1.3 million a day in tax revenue from the closure.

To contact reporter Michael Milligan, send e-mail to [email protected].

 

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