Sunday, August 31, 2014

Atlantic City

I stumbled upon a couple articles on Atlantic City's current casino "contraction," here and here, and it sounds like the beach town is losing 5,000 jobs in three days. Which doesn't sound good. I suppose you could say that as a country, where gambling is increasingly legal everywhere citizens are taxed, we may be reaching our saturation point for blackjack tables and slot machines.

But I remember back when Vegas was the only option in town, so to speak, and my childhood neighbors' first cousins went to work as card dealers when the Atlantic City casinos first opened. This was the late seventies, and they were going directly from high school because the casinos offered good union jobs and working as a dealer was an opportunity to earn a decent wage, what is now commonly referred to as a "living wage" and not at all guaranteed for current card and dice workers in riverboat America. I was a kid, not even a teenager, and going to work for a new casino sounded very impressive at the time.

When I think of A.C. casinos, I also think of my father, when he was flush in the mid '80s coming back from Los Angeles with a wallet full of twenty dollar bills to drop on the tables after we ate at a swank Italian place in one of those first casinos. This was all before GMO gas ruined Caesar dressing. So it was mildly amusing that ten years later he trained to work in the "cage," counting chips and making change, at a riverboat casino in Florida for just a buck or two more than minimum wage. As best I remember, his casino career was cut short when some slightly better job showed up soon after.

Update from February 2016: "Report: A.C. jobs, housing in downward spiral"


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