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Atlantic City Not Yet a Family Destination

I had a great time this week in Atlantic City. I was there for the start of the state’s mayors’ meeting. I saw some old friends, made some new ones, and took a few chips off the craps table. I felt safe, the streets were clean, I had no trouble parking, and easily hailed a cab. However, I won’t be rushing back with my family anytime soon.

Despite the Governor’s grand plan to make Atlantic City a “family destination” there was nothing there for my kids to do. The boardwalk was deserted, there wasn’t a show for us to see, and I couldn’t even find a place to grab a slice of pizza.

That aside, there are other signs of trouble. I can remember back, not too many years ago, if you walked the casino floor any night of the week the slots would packed and you might have to wait for a seat at a table. At four of the casino’s I visited, the slots were deserted and there were more tables closed than open. And this was despite a fairly large convention being in town. Contrast that with some of the Pennsylvania casinos I’ve visited recently, and you can see the problem. It’s often standing room only in PA.

If the governor is really planning to re-make Atlantic City, there is a lot of work to do, and not a lot of time to do it. Christie promised this almost a year ago, but political wrangling and turf battles have slowed the process. By the time the new agencies charged with marketing a “New Atlantic City” get around to it, perhaps next spring, it may already be too late.

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