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Caesars Uses Closure Time for Needed Maintenance

The forced New Jersey state shutdown gave maintenance people at Atlantic City's Caesar's a chance to clean the carpets and change light bulbs unimpeded by hordes of gamblers, but the downtime also affected the visitors.

Roulette wheels were encased. Gaming chips were locked up. Caesars was an eerie place. Thursday with its banks of slot machines turned on as if ready for gamblers who wouldn't be coming.

The $15 million Palace East Asian gaming area - just opened last week - resembled a museum piece. Carol and Charlie Yeager, both 57-year-olds from Philadelphia, couldn't valet-park their car at the Hilton because staff was laid off due to a steep decline in occupancy.

The Hilton kept two restaurants open, including one gourmet room. Noncasino restaurants such as P.F. Chang's in The Quarter at Tropicana remained open, a boon to Frank and Kim Izzi of Washington Township, in town with 14-year-old daughter Sam, and baby Gabriel.

Donna Lamaine, of Riverton and Atlantic City, said The Borgata resembled a ghost town Thursday, so she shopped at the Pier at Caesars. The bus company that brought them to Atlantic City refused to pick them up with the casino closed. Russo said: "This won't keep me from coming back. It's the only game in town."

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