Philly.com: Casinos Won’t Save Atlantic City

The opening of two shuttered casinos marks the rebirth of Atlantic City? Philly.com doesn’t think so. Neither does a majority of AC residents on the north side of the city.

Game changer? Yeah right.

Casinos didn’t save Atlantic City when it had a virtual monopoly for almost 40 years.

Atlantic City now faces insanely fierce competition from casinos in surrounding states. It’s even less likely that 2 new casinos in AC will somehow revive this seaside resort. Online gaming will make things worse.

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Hard Rock & Ocean Resort Casinos hired about 7,000 people. Spent millions on renovations. But building an economy dependent on gambling is a fool’s game.

Philly.com: The business model for casinos is designed to mainly strip wealth from customers. Much of the casino revenues goes out of the local economy to pad the bottom line of out-of-town companies.

Dark streets, beach block half-way houses, and Tennessee Ave needle exchanges make Atlantic City a risky bet.

Even Real Estate developers like Mark Callazzo urge caution about venturing into certain AC neighborhoods. On a recent WOND afternoon radio show, Callazzo said ‘there is safety in numbers. It’s not so scary if you’re with friends.’

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New Jersey legalized casinos in 1976 under the guise that it would be a “unique tool” to support urban redevelopment. But outside of the gleaming casinos that have been built, little has changed in Atlantic City.

  • Atlantic City poverty rate is 37 percent
  • Crime rate is one of the highest in the country.
  • Bankruptcy rate is also higher than other NJ towns.
  • Even the best casino jobs – barely pay a living wage.

In 2016, the Associated Press reported that Atlantic City’s casino workers were only making 80 cents an hour more than they did 12 years before.

That may explain why Atlantic City has struggled for decades while property values along other Jersey Shore towns have skyrocketed.

Research: Casinos have negative impact on Atlantic City property values.

The biggest impact the two revived casinos will have is on the other seven casinos in Atlantic City.

The gambling market along the East Coast is saturated. As such, the new casinos will mainly cannibalize customers from existing gambling halls. That makes talk of allowing casinos in North Jersey an even bigger folly.

Until Atlantic City diversifies its economy and capitalizes on its oceanfront location, don’t look for more gambling to solve its woes. But that didn’t stop Atlantic City Mayor Frank Gilliam from proclaiming that the opening of two casinos signals that “Atlantic City’s almost back – almost.”

Don’t bet on it.

Philly.com

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