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Donald Trump weighs in on Atlantic City woes

Kevin Chupka
Executive Producer/Writer

Atlantic City had a rough go in 2014. Four of the city’s 12 casinos shuttered and budget issues made Mayor Don Guardian’s first year in office tumultuous at best.

The shuttered Revel Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, N.J. has been sold to a Florida developer for $95.4 million.

An Associated Press interview quoted Guardian as saying 2015 will be “a year of healing.” Perhaps yesetrday's news that a sale of the shuttered Revel Casino to a Florida developer for $95.4 million (it cost $2.4 billion to build) is the first step in that healing process.

Despite the sale, the fate and ultimate use of Revel is still up in the air and Mayor Guardian admits the casino bloodbath may not be over:

 

Guardian said he expects another of the city’s eight remaining casinos to close in 2015. While he would not name it, his description sounded a lot like Bally’s Atlantic City, which the CEO of parent company Caesars Entertainment (CZR) seemed to put on notice in October, saying, “We need to make money there.”

Yahoo recently caught up with the man who seemed to hold court during the Atlantic City heyday of the 80’s and 90’s - Donald Trump.

“Seven years ago I left Atlantic City,” he noted. “And it was a great call. I’m getting a lot of credit from that from the smart people. I got out and made a lot of money in Atlantic City over the years.

Related: Donald Trump Talks 'Brutal' New Season of 'Celebrity Apprentice' and Honoring Joan Rivers

Trump said it was bad decisions made by politicians that left Atlantic City a shell of its former self. Chief among them were, Trump said, poor planning of the Atlantic City Convention Center and Airport.

“When I saw all the mistakes, a little bit like this country as a whole, when I saw the mistakes the politicians were making, I got out. So maybe I was lucky,” Trump said. “Atlantic City is truly, truly suffering right now and I feel badly.”

Trump says it was growing competition in the gambling industry that led to the downfall of the Vegas of the east. It was not all that long ago that the only options for legal gaming were Atlantic City and Las Vegas. Now Pennsylvania has unseated New Jersey as the number two gambling state. Plus, online options have made traveling to those meccas all but obsolete.

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“The casino business is inherently a very good business,” Trump argued. “But [it] has become so competitive throughout the United States. It was so different. There was no competition. It was really a monopoly in a true sense and now everyone’s got it and that really hurt Atlantic City too.

Correction: An earlier version of this story erroneously reported that eight casinos closed in 2014. Four closed and eight remain.

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