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Water Woes Have Casino Bottled Up

Associated Press

In the world of casinos, there are cardinal rules. Never leave your purse unattended. Never walk away from a hot slot machine. Never hit on 17.

Now, you can add another warning: Don’t drink the water.

Heavy rains that flooded inland Atlantic County this week also resulted in the contamination of water storage basins at the city’s water treatment plant in Pleasantville, five miles west of the city.

The floodwaters that swamped over two storage basins contained storm water runoff, which could include animal feces, bacteria or other impurities. That called into doubt the safety of the 15 million gallons of water pumped into the city from the inland plant.

So the Atlantic City Municipal Utilities Authority officials began warning people Thursday not to drink tap water without boiling it first. The ban is expected to remain in place through Monday.

The ban is affecting restaurants, hospitals and residences alike but the biggest losers are casinos, which need ice for cocktails and tap water for coffee, cooking and mixed drinks.

“We’re scrambling to provide potable water for our guests,” said Michael DiLeva, spokesman for Harrah’s Casino Hotel. “Fortunately, they’ve been extremely accommodating. They recognize it’s a citywide crisis.”

Harrah’s is trying to “corner the market on bottled water and spring water,” he said.

The bottled water and store-bought ice is costing a great deal of money, but he declined to give a dollar figure.

Customers are taking it in stride.

Ted Pamula, 71, of Cranford, N.J., learned about the ban when he ordered coffee as he played in a slot tournament at Trump Plaza. He had a beer instead, but he forgot about the ban later that night.

“I brushed my teeth with it, not even thinking. You take water for granted,” he said.

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