Atlantic City Council Supports Denial of License to Tropicana

On November 15th, 2007, the city council has unanimously approved a modified resolution petitioning the state regulators to follow the provisions in the Casino Control Act when studying Tropicana’s license renewal. The resolution was considerably loose compared to its original format, which called for the state to reject the license application of Tropicana without any review.

Councilman Dennis Mason said that denying the license renewal outright is not advisable because it can cause a possible loss of a lot of jobs. Mason said that Tropicana-which laid off about 900 employees-a 20% portion of its entire staff, since a new management took over in January 2007-has not dismissed as many employees recently and that President and General Manager Mark Giannantonio is doing his best to solve the problem.

The casino industry’s biggest and most influential labor union, the Local 54 of UNITE-HERE, has been taking advantage of their political influence throughout the city and the state against an outsider like the Columbia Sussex Corporation from Kentucky.

The New Jersey Casino Control Commission will hold a meeting to study the Local 54’s request to intervene with the hearing on November 20th, 2007 over the allegations that the casino is not well maintained and does not treat their staff right.

The city’s intervention came as state Senate President Richard J. Codey, a Democrat from Essex, petitioned the commission to accept the Local 54 as a part of the issue. Both Codey and the city has the same view that the Tropicana must be required to follow the standard set by the Casino Control Act which states that casinos must always maintain a first class casino facility.

A spokesperson for the Tropicana casino declined to comment on the issue and company leaders did not comment at the meeting. Tropicana casino is seeking to block the union’s action against their business. A hearing has been scheduled in the U.S. District Court in Camden. Union members, which officials estimate between seventy-five and 100 showed up at the City Hall, are pleased with the city’s backing although the council’s stance on the Tropicana was at odds with their members’ critical statements.

Local 54 Vice President and Tropicana business agent Javier Soto described an incident were employees filed a case with the union. The employees alleged that brooms, disinfectant and soap for casino bathrooms are lacking.

Employees said that they were tired of apologizing to their customers because of the problems and that even fruit given to guests for drinks has flies and there are bugs in cups. Union representatives said that Tropicana staff did not testify at the meeting for fear of losing their jobs. Union officials would not air their side on the resolution because Local 54 President Robert McDevitt is out of town.

Ben Begleiter, the New Haven Conn.-based UNITE HERE research analyst commented that the language use in the resolution is their own decision. But what is important is that they share the same concern. Columbia Sussex affiliate Tropicana Casinos and Resorts, which bought Tropicana casinos in Atlantic City, Indiana and Nevada for $2.75 billion, must obtain a license because their current license, which is previously given to Aztar Corporation-will expire soon.