Atlantic City Gambling

From Riches to Rags

In its heyday Atlantic City was one of the foremost holiday destinations in the United States, but it slowly lost favour and began a slow demise into seediness and neglect. The economy was badly battered, unemployment was rife and the once proud Boardwalk was all but deserted.

Magnificent monoliths like the Traymore Hotel and the Chalfonte-Haddon Hall Hotel were virtually standing empty and the city was an incongruous mix of slums on the one hand and out of fashion opulence on the other.

The city fathers had to do something to inject enthusiasm and hope into the ailing community and they cast their attention to one of America’s biggest success stories – that of sizzling Las Vegas. Las Vegas too was once a haunt of the downtrodden, but the advent of legalised gambling precipitated one of the biggest booms in America’s history.

Gaming Legalised

It was put to the vote, and the natives of Atlantic City opted to legalise casino gambling in the hope that it would be their city’s salvation. In 1978 the very first casino, The Resorts, opened its doors for legitimate gaming.

It wasn’t long before competitors began springing up all along the famed Boardwalk, and many of the successes of Las Vegas were imported to Atlantic City – Bally’s, Harrah’s, Caesars and the Tropicana.

But something didn’t quite wash in AC, the boom just wasn’t happening. Part of the reason was that the city was far too close to other major metropolises – New York, Philadelphia and Washington DC. Sure, the visitors were flocking in to gamble, but they didn’t stay overnight, as they were forced to do in Las Vegas. The economic spin off from the gambling was virtually non-existent.

Boom, What Boom?

In 2003 there was another concerted effort to inject life into the economy and a number of the larger casinos spent a fortune on renovating or enlarging the existing framework. The new kid on the block, the Borgata, was added to the gaming arena at this time, and for a while it looked as though the City would experience the much vaunted rebirth.

Although Atlantic City had recovered to a large extent from the days of gloom and doom in the 1960’s and 70’s, it suffered another enormous blow when slots were legalised in many of the cities and towns close by. The competition ruthlessly took huge bites out of the city’s gambling revenue, and plans are afoot to legalise gambling in many more states in America – this will not bode well for Atlantic City.

The city will not roll over and in 2008 it was announced that over $20 billion worth of hotel and casino construction would take place. Not only will this provide employment and revenue for the city, but it is anticipated that this enforced growth in the industry will bring in about 30 000 new casino workers and their families. The real estate industry has already indicated that property prices have risen, and this indeed is good news for this once proud carnival city.