Monday, February 22, 2010

Going to throw this one out there...

I get a lot of press releases from Atlantic City casinos - about their promotions, events, contests and what have you. Obviously, I track news about the town. So I'm going to put this out there:

Would Atlantic City be better off if the bad and poorly run casinos just closed?

There are a handful of casinos - already in bankruptcy - who are doing nothing to improve Atlantic City's image. They won't invest in their properties, they won't change with the times, and they won't let go of the idea that gaming revenue and stupid promotions is where it's at. It's not. Have you looked at gaming revenues lately? I doubt think they're coming back.

Atlantic City isn't going to exist without gambling. It's impossible. The city is too tied up with the vice.

So I'd rather the strong casinos who are pouring money into their properties and investing in "Atlantic City: Destination Resort," thrive, rather than compete with casinos still living by "Atlantic City: Gambling Town" motto. The latter are on life support. Maybe it's time to pull the plug.

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8 comments:

Greg said...

I'm wondering how AC has failed to replicate the turnaround success of Las Vegas. Where are the family-friendly shows? The pirate battles?

It is as if they WANT people to associate AC with chain-smoking lowlifes and nickel-slot seniors.

Jen A. Miller said...

A big difference between Vegas and AC is simply space. Vegas is in the middle of a desert with almost limitless possibilities to expand. AC is on a five-mile island with three other towns.

Vegas has been hit very hard, too. Its real estate market is - I believe - the worst in the country right now.

Greg said...

I don't disagree. What has disappointed me about AC is that the existing casinos were built with an entire lack of stageplay. They do little on the outside to remind you that you are in a faded, depressing city that just happens to be near a lovely beach.

Vegas suffers because it over-expanded and speculators (and the rubes who thought they could own expensive homes with no money down) took a bath. It also doesn't help to have people associate visits with your town and reckless corporate spending.

Jen A. Miller said...

Greg, I agree. The success of the casinos has done little to the area outside of the casinos. An old joke, but true: No one who works in AC actually lives in AC. Why would they? You barely need to step off the boardwalk to see why.

This prompted a discussion on facebook about Asbury Park, who was slated to get gambling the same time as AC but turned it down. AP has had a long, rough road, but what finally seems to be working in its recovery is a middle class who works AND owns homes in the area.

Anonymous said...

The future for Atlantic City, sadly, is not bright. With competition now in every adjacent state, AC’s monopoly (pun intended) on the Northeast gambling market is history. There are presently 3-4 more casinos than are needed for a healthy marketplace; the sooner these laggards close, the better – which I believe was your point, so I agree.

If Revel ever opens, at least two more casinos (in addition to the 3-4 noted above) would need to close. There simply aren’t enough gamblers anymore to support 13 casinos (14 with Revel) in a summer resort with serious crime and corruption issues.

For workers, the good news is that all the new casinos in neighboring states will continue to provide jobs. Same thing for Revel; while its opening would certainly spell doom for at least two existing casinos, the displaced workers would have somewhere new to go.

Unfortunately for workers, AC is also ill-served by its union leaders. How many tourists do you suppose were turned off to AC (for good) two years ago when Local 54 had strikers all over town shouting, “Stay away from Atlantic City”? At the time, I remember seeing them on the boardwalk and thinking: What fools; telling your own customers to take a hike!

The other major problem is what will become of all the closed casinos? It’s nice to think about replacing them with the movie theaters and supermarkets that AC needs, but what has been done with the Pinnacle site in over two years? Just another vacant lot… and there will be more.

Yesterday, Steve Wynn signed on to manage the new Foxwoods casino project in Philadelphia:

http://www.philly.com/philly/hp/news_update/85174107.html

Atlantic City will be a vastly different place in five years.

Hampton said...

Less is more? Maybe. Consider also that what distinguishes Vegas and A.C. from the other North American gaming destinatinations - Foxwoods, Montreal, Atlantis, etc. - is critical mass. The thirteen casinoes offer competition and choice. Or the illusion of competition and choice, anyway.

As a gambler I'm not interested in going to a place where there is no competition for my action; there's no more crooked game than the only game in town.

Maybe 4-5 casinoes are enough to satisfy a selective gambler, but maybe not.

My interests as a tourist can trump my interest as a gambler, of course. But we've seen what Atlantic City becomes when it has to stand on its own feet as a vacation spot.

Wildwood crest Hotels said...

Atlantic City has caused their own financial problems. All take no give leaves a bad taste in people's mouths. They are headed down the road of no return with PA putting in table games.

Andrew said...

I love hearing from my elderly neighbors here in Philadelphia about what a great destination Atlantic City was before casinos. They described it as have fabulous clubs, great restaurants and, actually, being more racially diverse and inclusive than Philadelphia felt at the time. I've spent a little time off-boardwalk in AC, and the city does have some nice housing stock (like Asbury) and a post-casino AC would still benefit from the robust infrastructure and connectivity to the rest of the state and Philadelphia. It's still the fastest way to get to the shore, and I think it would come back as a destination, as well as an investment target for second home buyers, if the scourge of the casinos was removed.