Despite money woes, Atlantic City’s attractions still open
Atlantic City has been in the news for all the wrong reasons lately, with words like "bankruptcy" ''crisis" and "broke" figuring prominently.
Now more than ever, city officials want to spread the word: Atlantic City is open for business — and pleasure.
Even before state leaders reached a deal to rescue the struggling resort on Monday, city officials were trying to convince visitors that its severe financial problems won't affect anyone's ability to gamble, or to spend money on food, drink or shopping.
Atlantic City officials are frantically emphasizing that all those options remain open as the summer travel season kicks off this weekend, and that visitors won't notice anything different this summer in pursuit of good times in the home of Miss America, salt water taffy and oceanfront casinos.
"People come down here and tell me on a regular basis they're surprised we're still open, or they're surprised the casinos are open," Mayor Don Guardian said. "They've heard a lot of negative things. We are the place that people come to party, and we will continue to be the entertainment capital of the Jersey shore."
New Jersey lawmakers agreed on a rescue package on Monday for Atlantic City. It gives the struggling resort five months to work out a five-year financial plan that calls for balanced budgets in each. If the city succeeds, it can prevent a threatened state takeover of its finances and major decision-making power. If it fails, the state can take over.
The measures are up for votes Thursday in the state Legislature, and they could be on Gov. Chris Christie's desk by early evening.
Atlantic City has been within days of running out of cash, and filing for bankruptcy has remained an option.
The rescue package should ease the city's short-term financial crisis. But even before it was proposed, the city had contingency plans to maintain essential services like police, fire and trash pickup.
Money got tighter as the city's casino industry started shrinking; four of the 12 casinos went out of business in 2014, and the surviving ones were often able to successfully appeal their tax assessments, blowing huge holes in the city's budget.
But the casinos and their hotels, eateries, nightclubs and shops will continue to operate as usual, regardless of how low the balance in the city's checkbook gets. And the city boasts a vast summer entertainment lineup scheduled, including Jerry Seinfeld, Rod Stewart, Luke Bryan and Justin Bieber.
Guardian, who serves as Atlantic City's cheerleader-in-chief, has a bit of P.T. Barnum in him, and rarely misses an opportunity to promote his city.
"Atlantic City is the place to come and party," he said. "Why would you be sweating in north Jersey when you can be chillin' in Atlantic City?"
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