Golden Nugget Atlantic Club Atlantic City

Many Atlantic Club employees – shown here on the casino’s last day in business in January – were job-hunting at Golden Nugget this week in Atlantic City (Image: AP/Wayne Parry)

When the folks at the Golden Nugget Atlantic City announced an “emergency jobs fair” to fill some newly created customer service spots, they could have hardly expected to be greeted by a cast of over a thousand job seekers lining up around the block. And yet the casino opened its doors this week to a multitude of hopefuls vying to fill just 50 positions; sadly, the prospective employees were facing the worst odds in the casino.

Atlantic Club Employees Turn Out in Droves

Many of the out-of-work were former workers at the Atlantic Club, which filed for bankruptcy in November 2013 after failing to compete against the newer and bigger casinos of Atlantic City. The Atlantic Club was sold in December for $23.4 million, to be stripped for parts, after a last-minute deal with PokerStars.com fell through due to concerns over the outstanding indictment on the company’s founder Isai Scheinberg. Some 1,600 people lost their jobs when it finally shut its doors on January 13th of this year; some had been with the casino since its inception.

Golden Nugget general manager Tom Pohlman said the casino’s burgeoning business was in part due to the closure of the unfortunate Atlantic Club. The Golden Nugget is similar in size, and many of the Atlantic’s former customers now frequent the Nugget. Pohlman confirmed that several thousand former Atlantic customers now have players’ club cards at his casino.

It’s important to us to maintain a certain standard of customer service, and we need to bring in immediate help,” he said. “It’s unfortunate to see how many people are here because that means a lot of people in Atlantic City are out of a job. But there are great candidates here, and we can pick the best of the best.”

Hard to Find Work

Pat Van Woeart – one of the hopefuls – worked in a coffee shop at the Atlantic Club and has been out of work since it was shut down.“It’s been terrible” she said. “I’ve applied everywhere that will take applications, but nobody is hiring. With food prices going up, even milk is more expensive. It’s been really tough. These are all dedicated people and we’re not used to being out of a job. My health benefits are expiring. I need a job and I need it now.”

Ronnie Martinez is a former security guard at the Atlantic Club. He said: “It’s been tough feeding my family. I hope I get hired here. I have a good work record.”

While the casino initially advertised 50 jobs over the two-day fair, Pohlman said it would try to add 100 more, and this week’s unsuccessful applicants will be considered for high-season summer work. Employment manager Tina Smith said housekeeping and security departments were hiring on the spot, while dealers were being evaluated over the two-days, with decisions made later.

The good news, however, is that there are signs of the recession abating in New Jersey. The state’s unemployment rate was 7.3 percent in December – that’s down from 9.6 percent from a year earlier, although there’s still some way to go to reach pre-recession levels of 4.6 percent. By comparison, the December rate was 6.6 percent nationally, 7.1 percent in New York and 6.9 percent in Pennsylvania.