Temporary cooling equipment had finally taken hold Monday morning, three days after a power plant failure left the Boardwalk casinos without air conditioning — and most of their customers.
Caesars was handing out free ice cream bars to patrons Monday morning, but it was the casinos who took a licking on what would have been one of the most profitable weekends of the year.
Trump Plaza had to shut down Friday and Saturday, losing several million dollars. Caesars stayed open as crews worked to hook up temporary cooling, but business was slow.
"It's going to be a sizable impact," said Mark Juliano, CEO of Trump Entertainment Resorts, who estimated Trump Plaza normally takes in $3.5 million to $4 million on a July weekend. "It happened on one of the five or six top weekends of the entire year — perfect weather, lots of things going on in town."
The problem was due to a break in an underground pipe that provided cold water for the casinos' air conditioning systems. Unlike smaller businesses whose air conditioning relies on electricity, the huge casinos rely on a pipe that sends super-chilled water into the buildings, which powers the cooling systems there.
Pepco Energy Services, which owns the plant where the mishap occurred, said temporary cooling trucks it brought in from around the country are operating at full capacity.
The gambling floor at both casinos was cool and comfortable Monday morning. Mel Rosenberg of neighboring Ventnor stopped at a cafe at Trump Plaza with some friends for their morning coffee.
Temperatures Thursday were in the 80s, but rose into the 90s over the weekend. As of midday Monday, it was 85 and humid.
"It's a good thing the air conditioning is back on, or they would have lost out on my $2 sale," he joked.
His friend Don Cooper, also of Ventnor, said he was at Trump Marina Hotel and Casino Saturday night, when it was jammed with guests who had been diverted from Trump Plaza.
"It was overflowing," he said. "You could hardly move."
Juliano said the casino and its 906-room hotel were back to normal temperatures.
As of noon Monday, only 100 of Caesars' 1,141 rooms — those at the top of a hotel tower — were still too hot to rent. General manager Joe Domenico said the rooms would have full air conditioning by Monday night, and would be available to rent by Tuesday, when Caesars' buffet would reopen as well.
He would not reveal the casinos' estimated losses during the outage, citing company policy.
"The impact was and will always be considerable over the weekend period," he said.
Domenico also praised workers for getting a temporary fix up and running as quickly as they did.
"The Pepco and property teams did a tremendous and Herculean job in building a new cooling facility in an incredibly short period of time," he said.