Brown announces three-bill plan for ‘fair development’ in Atlantic City

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Brian Edmiston / Assemblyman Chris Brown delivers his remarks at a Boardwalk press conference Tuesday, July 8. Brian Edmiston / Assemblyman Chris Brown delivers his remarks at a Boardwalk press conference Tuesday, July 8. ATLANTIC CITY – The crowd cheered for Assemblyman Chris Brown as he urged Caesars Entertainment Corp. to sell the Showboat casino hotel, rather than close it on Aug. 31.

“They are choosing to close a profitable casino while choosing to spend $880 million to open another casino in New York,” said Brown.

At a Boardwalk press conference Tuesday, July 8 the District 2 Republican introduced a plan that he said would foster future fair economic development in Atlantic City.

Standing outside of Showboat, Brown discussed three bills which are intended to protect middle class workers and further regulate the casino industry.

The bills would encourage casinos be sold only to willing operators rather than close, prohibit casinos from placing anticompetitive deed restrictions on casino properties, and limit any single corporation to a maximum of two Atlantic City casino licenses.

Brown said Caesars Entertainment would be violating the public trust and not upholding its end of the bargain if it continues with the scheduled shutdown of Showboat.

“If a buyer does come forward, it would be unconscionable if Caesar’s refuses to accept the offer and chooses instead to further limit competition, thereby putting over 2,000 of our families, friends, and neighbors out of work,” Brown said. “This is unacceptable and it is time to stand up for the working middle class and prevent this from happening.”

Accompanying Brown were members of Unite Here Local 54, including President Bob McDevitt who said the shutdown of Showboat would be a “criminal act.”

“It’s not five or 10 people that are being let go; it’s 2,500 people,” said Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson.

With the closing of the Atlantic Club casino in January and the announcement of bankruptcy at Revel in June, the closing of Showboat would mark yet another major setback for the casino industry here.

Caesars Entertainment has said it is willing to accept any reasonable offer from a buyer who will continue to run Showboat as a casino hotel, but if no buyer comes forth, the casino hotel will be shutdown.

“We need to remind everybody there is a five-year, bi-partisan agreement in effect,” Brown said, referring to Gov. Chris Christie’s five-year commitment to revitalizing the casino industry in Atlantic City. “This notion since gaming revenue is down we should abandon the five-year agreement is just plain wrong.”

 In conjunction with the five-year plan, this package of bills will “restore fairness and balance to the bargain between the New Jersey and the casino industry,” said Brown.

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