Last, Best Chance
As neighboring markets look to cash in
on gaming, Atlantic City is embarking on
an ambitious revitalization plan that
calls for diversifying its economy
It may be the ultimate competitive irony. Just as neighboring states and even Northern New Jersey expand their gaming options to compete with Atlantic City,
the home of HBO’s award-winning
Empire is looking to diversify
past its casinos in an effort to revive its long-flagging fortunes.
The Casino Reinvestment Development
Authority’s Feb. 1 approval of a new master
plan is the next step in a scheme to rejuvenate Atlantic City’s tourism district. In a
sense, this plan could be the city’s last, best
By Debra Hazel
chance to reverse a decades-long decline,
exacerbated by the recent recession.
“Frankly, we’ve been dealing with a
rough economy, and then, in the past five
years, competition from neighboring
states,” says John Palmieri, executive director of the CRDA.
While Atlantic City was formerly perceived
as competing with the lights of Las Vegas, it’s
now facing threats from Pennsylvania and
New York, as these adjoining states have seen
increasing interest in the revenues gener-
ated by gaming. Since 2007, four standalone
casinos have opened in Pennsylvania: the
Mount Airy Casino Resort in Stroudsburg,
the Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem, the
Not to be outdone, a coalition of New
York State’s nine racetrack casinos last year
formed the New York Gaming Association to
advocate for their interests. And competi-
tion will only increase. New York Gov.
Andrew Cuomo proposed a constitutional
amendment legalizing casino gambling.
Pittsburgh and the Sugarhouse
Casino in Philadelphia. In addition, several
casino licenses have been awarded to horse
racing facilities, creating “racinos.”
The Casino Reinvestment Development Authority’s master plan to bolster Atlantic City focuses on integrating all the components of the city’s Tourism District,
rather than making casinos the main event.
34 REAL ESTATE FORUM FEBRUARY/MARCH 2012
Part of the ForumLOCAL Series