At least 10 AC casinos closing Friday

Associated Press
Bill Wischuck of Coatesville, Md. leaves the boarded-up Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City NJ on Friday Aug. 26,2011, as Hurricane Irene approached the gambling resort. Atlantic City's 11 casinos are starting to shut down as Hurricane Irene threatens the nation's second-largest gambling resort. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)
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ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — All but one of Atlantic City's 11 casinos planned to shut down Friday as Hurricane Irene moved toward the resort city, where a mandatory evacuation was ordered.

The city's casinos have shut down only twice before in their 33-year history — once for Hurricane Gloria in 1985 and once because of a state government shutdown in 2006.

The 10 casinos shuttering their operations said their doors would close by 8 p.m.

The Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa said it was not taking new reservations but did not immediately say when it would close.

Brian Cahill, a spokesman for Trump Entertainment, said limited staff was working with guests unable to leave.

Moments after Bill Wischuck put $20 into a slot machine early Friday morning at Resorts Casino Hotel, security officers came running over to him.

He hadn't won a jackpot; they were there to tell him to cash out at once because the casino was closing due to Irene's approach.

"They all came running over saying, 'You gotta get out! We're shutting down!" said the 66-year-old retired crane operator from Coatesville, Md. "So we're getting out of town."

Resorts boarded up all its ground-floor windows with plywood, and workers filled more than 400 sandbags, which were to be deployed around the foundation to protect against possible flooding from the powerful hurricane.

"We are closed and we're focused on trying to help everybody get back home," said Resorts co-owner Dennis Gomes. "If anybody comes in, we tell them the casino is closed and that we are shutting down."

Gomes estimated the lost weekend could cost his casino $3.5 million to $4 million in lost business.

"We got kicked out," said Livette Phillips of College Park, Md., as she dragged her rolling suitcase down the boardwalk. "We were OK last night, but at 5 o'clock this morning there was a notice under the door saying we had to get out. It's time to go, so we're going."

At the Tropicana Casino and Resort, crews removed beach chairs and umbrellas from an outdoor storage shed Friday morning.

"We're taking every precaution we can to secure the building and remove anything loose from outside the building and the roof, but it's actually beautiful weather out right now," president Tony Rodio said.

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Wayne Parry can be reached at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC

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