Don Guardian believes 2015 is “Year of Healing” for Atlantic City

If any place is glad that 2015 is over with, it’s definitely Atlantic City. The East Coast gambling mecca experienced their most-dismal year ever, watching four of their 12 casinos close. That said, Mayor Don Guardian believes that 2015 will be a “year of healing” for his city.

Guardian thinks the healing will be helped by some new business in Atlantic City, namely a Bass Pro Shops outlet store, Harrah’s new convention center, a revamping of Caesars’ Pier Shops, and a former casino being turned into a college.

Unfortunately, this may not be enough to save yet a fifth casino from closing. Guardian wasn’t specific about which casino he thinks is in the most trouble, however, believes that from his description, it could be Bally’s. The report cites Gary Loveman, CEO of Bally’s parent company Caesars Entertainment, as saying, “We need to make money there.” Caesars closed Showboat on August 31st to reduce competition for its other three Atlantic City casinos, but they may need to close one more to reduce their losses.

All odds before indicated that Trump Taj Mahal might have to shut down, given their massive debt and lack of incoming revenue. However, billionaire Carl Icahn, who owns the mortgage for Taj Mahal, loaned the beleaguered casino $20 million to keep it afloat. His vision is to keep the casino open long enough to make it to the busier, more-profitable summer months.

Going back to Guardian, it was a tumultuous first year for the Republican mayor. He entered office with a vow to enact a “root canal” on Atlantic City, or rather a painful and necessary drilling of the out-of-control budget. Guardian’s work on this matter is just getting started because he wants to trim the city budget by $40 million over the next four years. This will include layoffs of government workers, firefighters and police officers, among other budget cuts.

The mayor sees all of this as necessary change, considering that the state of New Jersey is figuring out ways to fairly reduce property taxes for Atlantic City’s eight remaining casinos. Some have already blasted a proposed “PILOT” program by New Jersey State Senate President Mike Sweeney and State Sen. Jim Whelan because it favors the bigger casinos. So this is just another area where there’s lots of work to be done with regard to cleaning up Atlantic City’s financial mess.