Casino Experts Say Binion Shutdown Hurts Workers

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Downtown took a big hit when Binion’s Horseshoe was forced to close its doors Friday, casino industry experts said.

A dark casino amid the neon on Fremont Street sends a negative message about the vitality of the downtown casino district, and Binion’s closure is even worse since the 52-year-old casino is one of the city’s leading icons, experts said Sunday.

An estimated 900 workers lost their jobs when the Horseshoe was unable to maintain a bankroll after U.S. marshals seized all of the available cash in the casino’s cages Friday night, executing a federal judge’s order allowing the Culinary parent union’s health care and pension trust funds to seize as much as $2 million.

It’s unknown how much cash was seized, but the total seizure was less than the $2 million authorized; a U.S. deputy marshal estimated the amount as about $1 million on Friday night.

Horseshoe owner Becky Binion Behnen agreed Saturday to keep the casino closed until she can convince Gaming Control Board Chairman Dennis Neilander and Nevada Gaming Commission Chairman Pete Bernhard that she’s been able to replenish the property’s depleted bankroll.

Neilander was the lone optimist among the industry insiders surveyed about the impact of the Horseshoe closure on downtown and on recent revitalization efforts.

Taj Capitalizes on Apprentice TV Show

ATLANTIC CITY – The 16 aspiring, conniving corporate wannabes on “The Apprentice” television reality show are not the only ones competing for a six-figure payday from Donald Trump.

Executives at Trump’s flagship casino cooked up “The $100,000 Apprentice Challenge,” in which Taj Mahal gamblers compete for the grand prize by selecting the show’s losing and winning contestants over 15 weeks.

“They Get Fired, You Get Rich!” the contest promises.

“We definitely wanted to capitalize on the fact we had a nationally televised show featuring our boss, Donald. It was a must-do,” said Linda Powers, Taj’s senior vice president for slot operations.

Although the first episode of “The Apprentice” airs tonight (8:30, NBC), the Taj contest began one week ago. Thousands of gamblers have already entered, Powers said.

The Taj is heavily tying itself to the TV show. It is advertising the contest on billboards and in commercials broadcast by the NBC affiliates in Philadelphia, New York and Atlantic City.

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