The 12 casinos in Atlantic City, N.J., were ordered to shut their doors Wednesday as a result of the state legislature's inability to adopt a new state budget by its July 1 deadline.
State lawmakers were forced into an emergency session during their Independence Day holiday today in an effort to clear up the budget crisis. If they can't come to an agreement, all non-essential government services and workers, including state inspectors at the casinos without which the casinos can't legally operate, won't be working until a budget is passed.
Casino operators went to court to have the order overturned, but were denied by the state's Supreme Court. July and August are historically the busiest months of the year in Atlantic City, and the casinos say they may lose more than $16 million a day in gambling revenue if they're forced to close.
The potential closure comes at a particularly bad time for the Borgata Hotel and Casino which just debuted its new 85-table poker room June 30 and had planned to start its Summer Poker Open Tournament Wednesday.
If the New Jersey legislature and governor can't come to an agreement, this would be the first government shutdown in the state's history. Three years ago, the casinos also went to court to seek the right to stay open amid threats of a government shutdown, but a budget was reached just in time to prevent a closure.