By Michael Hill
Aziz Ziazi is on the eve of losing both of his jobs at Revel and Showboat just months after investing all of his savings into a new townhouse for his wife and his three beautiful children.
“Our dream came true. My kids were happy. Now I see that everything is going down the drain,” said Ziazi.
Ziazi says he is not among the 470 showboat workers getting jobs at other Caesars casinos in Atlantic City.
That means next Wednesday he’ll be applying for unemployment insurance and other aid as the Atlantic City Convention Center will become help central for casino workers.
“The Governor is bringing down a program to the state of New Jersey that has forgiveness for mortgage. It’s really a holiday. So you add up to 12 months of non payment to the end of your mortgage. Banks are working with the plan, it’s just a little bit premature. This is a wonderful plan from the governor and I’m sure that it will be explained in more detail when they open it up next week., It terms of the city, what we have done is three items. One is we extended by 30 days the last tax payment that you have and we reduced the interest that you pay on taxes. The third one is we’ve come out with a plan so you have a plan that if you can’t afford to pay your taxes, you can have a plan where you can do it over a series of months and that will be pre-liened, meaning that no one can come around and put a lien on your property. You just have to agree to the payment plan,” said Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian.
A Wall Street firm — Fitch Ratings — says when three casinos will shut their doors here, the eight remaining casinos will absorb much of that lost revenue. And it predicts there will be no more casino closures for at least two years.
It’s anyone’s guess what will become of these casinos scheduled for closure. But Guardian says potential buyers are interested.
“The people that are kicking the tires, that are in town now that are figuring out whether or not it makes sense,” said Guardian.
Mayor Guardian said the effort to diversify tourism in Atlantic City is paying off.
“Certainly if you looked at our numbers this year, although you see the numbers in gaming going down the numbers in everything else is skyrocketing. $160 million increase in food, beverage, and rooms,” said Guardian.
For workers like Ziazi, unemployment looms and so does the prospect of losing everything.
“I’m very sad, I’m depressed. I don’t know what to do,” he said.