Trump Plaza Hotel Casino on the Atlantic City Boardwalk shut down Friday until air conditioning service could be restored.
The closing is expected to cost the casino more than $1 million, but possibly more, depending on how long the building is shuttered.
Tom Hickey, a spokesman for Trump Entertainment Resorts, said it was just too hot inside the building to continue to ask guests and employees to suffer through it.
"We’re closing the whole place down for now,” he said.
A leaky pipe at a nearby power plant that provides cold water to the casinos to power their cooling systems was to blame. Officials said it might be Monday before the situation is corrected.
The loss of air conditioning could not have come at a worse time for the nation’s second-largest gambling market -- in the middle of the summer season, when casinos take in the most revenue from gamblers and overnight guests. Friday’s afternoon high was expected to reach 84 degrees.
Hickey said guests at the 906-room hotel were being transferred to two other casinos the company owns in Atlantic City, the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort and the Trump Marina Hotel and Casino.
In June, Trump Plaza averaged $509,000 per day in winnings from gamblers. But that average includes weekdays, when the take is much less. A prime July weekend, when people flock to Atlantic City to escape hot temperatures outdoors, is usually a much more profitable period.
Mark Juliano, Trump Entertainment’s CEO, said the company will eventually tally its losses before deciding whether to seek compensation from Pepco Energy Services, the owner of the power plant that malfunctioned.
“But right now, the first priority is getting the air conditioning back on,” he said.
Also left sweltering was Boardwalk Hall -- the legendary performance hall on the boardwalk -- and the high-end Pier Shops at Caesars. Cold air began flowing again at the Pier around 4 p.m. Friday, but the other places were still left in the heat.
It is extremely rare for an Atlantic City casino to close down temporarily. Aside from the three-day state government shutdown in 2006, the only other time in recent history that casinos shut down briefly was when Hurricane Gloria moved up the East Coast in September 1985, according to Dan Heneghan, a spokesman for the state Casino Control Commission.
“They shut down because it looked like the hurricane was heading right for us,” he said.
The storm eventually veered harmlessly out to sea. In the 1980s, Caesars was shut down for one day as a penalty for regulatory violations, Heneghan added.
The lack of air conditioning has already canceled three episodes of a nightly variety show that Trump Plaza offers. And a Friday night dance competition at Boardwalk Hall, which also was without air conditioning, was transferred to Resorts Atlantic City, a casino at the opposite end of the Boardwalk.
A Melissa Etheridge concert scheduled for Saturday at Caesars will go on, either there or in the House of Blues, a nightclub inside the Showboat Casino Hotel, which is also owned by Caesars’ parent company, said Joe Domenico, Caesars’ general manager.
“There’s quite a number of customers here in the lobby and on the casino floor,” he said. “We’ve opened the doors and there’s air flowing through the casino floor. It’s not business as usual, but it’s still business.”
Atlantic City is in the fourth straight year of a revenue decline.