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Can Atlantic City Become Vegas Of The East?

Flickr User Autiscy

Underneath the announcement of new planned initiatives by the CRDA, gaming numbers fell again for Atlantic City’s 11 casinos.

This happened to be the 38th straight month of bringing in less monthly revenues than the previous year. It seems that there are always grandiose plans in the work for the resort city, but it’s not translating to the stat sheet.

The talk from officials involved with Atlantic City is to make it more like Las Vegas. The problem is, it’s not in the same stratosphere as Las Vegas.

I am in a few weddings next year, and this week, emails started circulating about two of the bachelor parties. Without a vote, without hesitation, the destination will be Las Vegas for those two, at least. That is a sad commentary on Atlantic City. It has become relegated to a city that New Jerseyans maybe visit every so often, but still does not always resonate.

This is not to say that groups of friends do not go to Atlantic City for bachelor/bachelorette parties, but at this point, it does not have the same cache as Las Vegas.

There are two major factors that separate the city outside of the weather, of course.

1. Non-gaming entertainment. This has become a major priority of the CRDA and the the powers that be. AC has brought in some high-end restaurants, and popular nightlife, such as the Pool at Harrah’s, but they need more. The city desperately needs an area, where there are rows of bars, restaurants, clubs, and shops. Think Hoboken. AC has The Walk, which has grown in size, but still is not tapping its potential. Ironically, CRDA Head John Palmieri has targeted that area as development area. This leads into my next point.

2. Cleanliness/Safety. These two “merged reasons” are absolutely the cause of why the city has not been able to lure developers and consumers to many areas outside of the casinos. This is again, a major initiative of the CRDA and its new Tourism District.

Again, we will put weather aside, but walk around Las Vegas, and you will see that the two reasons I laid go hand in hand. They exist in Vegas and at the moment, certainly not in Atlantic City. An amazing part of the equation is that AC has the built-in resource of the ocean and a boardwalk, and they have not been able to capitalize on that.

A recent FDU/Public Minds Poll showed lukewarm numbers for safety in Atlantic City. I am very hopeful that the Tourism District, and its new plans for safety are successful, because the potential is absolutely there for this city to boom.

John Palmieri definitely has the track record, and he is armed with support from Governor Christie and financial resources.

While the continued competition from surrounding states has been brutal, I truly believe AC will turn the corner by next spring. And I think this, without the presence of sports betting. Add sports betting to the equation with the proposed changes, it will be a home run.

If you do not think so, visit Las Vegas during March Madness or the Super Bowl weekend.

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