Streams

What's Wrong with Atlantic City?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Atlantic City Casinos (Photo Courtesy of the Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority)

Revel Casino Hotel in Atlantic City has announced that it will close in September, becoming the fourth casino there to close this year. Michael L. Diamond, business reporter for the Asbury Park Press, talks about why Atlantic City is struggling and whether the closings offer a lesson to other casino projects in the area. Plus, New Jersey Public Radio's Matt Katz talks about the politics of Governor Christie's attempts to revitalize Atlantic City. 

Guests:

Michael L. Diamond and Matt Katz

Comments [30]

Joe from Collingswood, NJ

As far as I'm concerned, the American casino experiment is over. We can do it well in exactly one place: Las Vegas. Everything outside of it might be passable as a way to trick some people out of their money, but gambling on a large scale outside of Nevada isn't going to work, and it's a shame that our elected officials think it's the future of getting tax revenue. It's proven that its net social benefit is far from positive. If you really want Atlantic City to succeed, it has to be treated as what it is: a city. Support its urban form, support its citizens, support its non-casino attractions. There are so many examples of successful urban resorts in the world, why not start looking into how those got and stay successful? While there are tons of casinos around the region now, there's only one Atlantic City. Every other South Jersey shore town is a family-friendly, generic type of place; support Atlantic City for its uniqueness, its potential to be interesting.

Aug. 20 2014 11:56 AM
Fred from Brooklyn

Atlantic City is a perfect example of "a sow's ear." You know what you cannot make out of it.

Aug. 15 2014 12:02 PM
Fred from Brooklyn

Atlantic City is depressing - once you leave the glitz, the rest of the city seems to be very poor. I'm an occasional gambler, but I went to AC once and that was enough. There are more pleasant options closer to home.

Aug. 15 2014 11:54 AM
tom LI

Ted from Santa Fe, get a clue. Use the right terms, re; what drugs can lead to suicide. Plus you excoriate people with diverse problems in one fell swoop, most of whom do not start taking drugs because they have suicidal tendencies. Which is also a misnomer, "suicidal tendencies". Another term dripping with societal mythology and outright misinformation.

I bet you watch "Reefer Madness" and think its a real documentary.

As to whats wrong with Atlantic city, the problem was there the moment it "opened". Not enough diversity in the attractions, or a means to evolve. As an entity its been stagnate well before they broke ground on it. Vegas, etc have all had to change to attract more diverse visitors, such as that good old American Family tourism niche...a group that will spend money on just about any waste of time they can...you know, so to "make memories"...by going to amusement parks, constructed to look like real places.

Aug. 14 2014 02:40 PM
Margaret Rubick from Sleepy Hollow, NY

I listened to the interview about Atlantic City and am delighted that Brian Lehrer suggested "low income housing" as a possible use for the building(s).

I hope Brian will check out the fight to save public housing in Peekskill--www.ghostofrobeson.com

Darrell Davis, the author, is a community activist and would be an excellent guest on the show!

Aug. 14 2014 01:08 PM
PM from East Village, NYC


Well at least New Jersey has the Xanadu project going for them! Wait...what?

Aug. 14 2014 12:53 PM
Carol from Yonkers

Yes, gamblers are attracted to hiking. Las Vegas has phenominal hiking - Red Rock Canyon, Valley of Fire, along the Colorado River in AZ - for starters.

Aug. 14 2014 10:36 AM
Ted from santa fe

Gambling is as much symptom of depression as substance abuse a cause of suicide and destroyer of families The idea that the state it supports to solve social problems is oxymoronic

Aug. 14 2014 10:32 AM
ericf

For a quick summary of what's wrong with Atlantic City see the opening of Louis Malle's 1980 film "Atlantic City". The grand old hotels that made Atlantic City special and charming were destroyed and replaced with glass and steel monstrosities that could be anywhere. Rather than enhance the whole city as a coherent environment they built isolation chambers. The attitude was anti-urban and dismissive of architectural history.

Aug. 14 2014 10:30 AM
BigGuy from Forest Hills

Revel's design was produced by high fashion architects and decorators selling people with money a bill of goods. The design is not at all friendly. It is forboding. It is not comfortable. There's no place to sit while walking long corridors. There's no place to comfortably slow down. Its great for high fashion young men and women in their 20's -- NO ONE ELSE.

Even with the hotel and the casino full, walking the corridors from the hotel to the casino an individual could be completely alone for a quarter mile or more. That walk gives people a queasy feeling -- any moment a person feels like a Bond villain -- Odd Job or Jaws -- is going to attack from out of the woodwork. The lobby seating is like the seating in personnel agencies -- no one can easily sit down or get up while looking graceful -- maybe a few models in their 20's -- but no adults 30 or above.

Revel's initial comp cards did not have the hotel phone number on the cards. Everything was set up to be done on line, but most of the time in the first six months, the internet connections were down.

Aug. 14 2014 10:26 AM
Cervantes

i be neither a purist nor a puritan,but aren't gambling and gaming;just closed ended loops that make money on money,yet create nothing. you know,sort of like Hedge fund crazy Wall Street.

Aug. 14 2014 10:23 AM
dan k from park slope

they should turn the failed casinos over to housing for those now out of work from their failure

Aug. 14 2014 10:19 AM
brooklynmom78 from Bay Ridge

The path to economic recover can only lie in the development of industry in this country, and the re-creation of jobs for skilled laborers. There is an investors strategy which calls for investing in the "sin industries" during down times (sex, gambling, alcoholic beverages, and cigarettes) and this might be why there has been such an explosion of casinos. The trouble is that if EVERYONE is doing it you loose your edge. Poker players strategy, if everyone else is playing loose, play tight.

Aug. 14 2014 10:19 AM
Mr. Bad from NYC

The Borgata is doing well because it's "set off" from the rest of the city. You don't have to drive through the depressing downtown area and it's high end and appeals to high rollers. The "beach" is nasty, lots of shady characters roving around scoping out the tourists which makes it impossible to enjoy owing to the overbuilt downtown... Plenty of better beaches further north with an actual relaxing "beach" atmosphere.

Aug. 14 2014 10:18 AM
Sue from NYC

The Catskills (like Ulster County, where the Nevele resort is being considered for gambling) are less than/2 hours away, and offer beautiful mountains, hiking, swimming, golf, etc. There is a lot to do in the Catskills for non-gamblers, and if there are casinos then for gamblers as well.

Aug. 14 2014 10:18 AM
anon

Why no coverage of Ferguson on today's show?

Aug. 14 2014 10:18 AM
Walter from Across the Hudson

Most of the people who go to Atlantic City are from the Philadelphia metro area. It's not a destination, it's a day trip. Who the hell wants to go to Atlantic City? Now with gambling in PA, ring the death knell.

Aug. 14 2014 10:12 AM
Tee from NJ metro

I think Atlantic City has gone a long way to improve. Great restaurants all over. A huge shopping center. And of course as Sue points out, the beach. They've just never been effective at getting the word out.

Aug. 14 2014 10:12 AM
Seth

Martin, by your logic the dozens of new casinos that have opened in PA and upstate recently are running on smiles and good wishes. Actually, look at all the new casinos, and the only logic is that discretionary income is everywhere. Thanks Obama for lining the pockets of gamblers all over these states.

Aug. 14 2014 10:09 AM

Why are casinos failing in A.C.? People realize that they're not getting much for their money. The "glamor" is non-existent, and the business does not really use people except for craps, roulette, and blackjack. You can build casinos and hotels, but with the slots really computer games--not to mention the gambler can do most everything online--why bother?

Promoting gambling is stupid. It is far, far more damaging to family life than legalizing prostitution (including controlling it and taxing it). Because of its intermittent, irregular payoff schedule, gambling can become addictive fairly easily, leading to defaults on mortgages, bankruptcy, abusive behavior, and divorce. Prostitution on the German model, using women and men who actually want to do it, with health safeguards (not to mention healthcare!), clean facilities in which to do it, and taxing it (and incomes derived from it, whether by prostitutes themselves or brothel managers or even the people who clean the room and change the sheets between customers) both employs more people than casinos and would result in more state revenues.

One final thing: gamblers seldom get a payoff, and almost never a big one. Customers of prostitutes ALWAYS get a payoff.

Aug. 14 2014 10:09 AM
brooklynmom78 from Bay Ridge

The number 1 problem with Atlantic City is that it's a dump. Unlike Las Vegas, which makes itself an entertainment destination with shows and events that have nothing to do with gambling, AC is mostly about gaming, and once you leave the casino area the city is deteriorated and run down. Also, there is not a great way to get from one casino to another. Also, there are newer and nicer casinos at Foxwoods and other areas. Problems with posting. Apologize about repeate posts

Aug. 14 2014 10:08 AM
Mr. Bad from NYC

I stayed at Revel a couple of months ago for an event. The rooms are OK but the Casino and Restaurants are nothing special. The check in area was dirty and ugly, more like an airline concourse... The real problem is AC itself. Why go there for any other reason than to gamble and now you can gamble practically anywhere? It's an ugly place, the city itself is vile and rundown and it's hours from civilization... Vegas has re-branded itself as a foodie/shopping location but AC can't because NYC... so it's ovah.

Aug. 14 2014 10:08 AM
Walter from Across the Hudson

Is your name Michael Diamond?
Nah, mine's Clarence.

Aug. 14 2014 10:08 AM
Sue from NYC

What does A.C. have that other gambling locations don't have? The beach, of course. But did they play that up to attract people to A.C.? No.

They should build cabanas people can rent for the day, have chair and umbrella rentals (free for gamblers, perhaps), bars on the beach with service to people sitting on the beach, etc.

The casinos had a stupid, short-sighted business model focusing only on the gambling and not on the adjacent beach!

Aug. 14 2014 10:08 AM
Tee from NJ metro

We actually go to Atlantic City several times a year. Not big gamblers, but we do play. Ever since Revel opened, we have tried to stay there just to give it a boost, but the room rates were so much higher than anywhere else we could never make it work. And the restauarants there were really excellent, too. Such a shame. The Borgtata is smart--they'll give you a room free to get you inside to dine, play and use their spa. (And they have a Starbucks.)

Bottom line is Revel did nothing in terms of promotion to help itself. Ever. Almost as if they were trying to fail.

Aug. 14 2014 10:08 AM
John from NYC

I am an architect and urbanist (professor of architecture, studied with Robert Venturi, co-author of “Learning from Las Vegas”).

Even though I don’t gamble I find Las Vegas a HOOT. I LOVE to go there.

Atlantic City is dangerous, a good place to get mugged. I am afraid to walk around there.

They built casinos, but did not bother to make Atlantic City a place anyone would want to visit.

Aug. 14 2014 10:07 AM
brooklynmom78 from Bay Ridge

The number 1 problem with Atlantic City is that it's a dump. Unlike Las Vegas, which makes itself an entertainment destination with shows and events that have nothing to do with gambling, AC is mostly about gaming, and once you leave the casino area the area is deteriorated and run down. Also, there is not a great way to get from one casino to another. Also, there are newer and nicer casinos at Foxwoods and other areas.

Aug. 14 2014 10:07 AM
brooklynmom78 from Bay Ridge

The number 1 problem with Atlantic City is that it's a dump. Unlike Las Vegas, which makes itself an entertainment destination with shows and events that have nothing to do with gambling, AC is mostly about gaming, and once you leave the casino area the area is deteriorated and run down. Also, there is not a great way to get from one casino to another. Also, there are newer and nicer casinos at Foxwoods and other areas.

Aug. 14 2014 10:06 AM
J from Brooklyn

Just look to the Borgata. Its business is funded only partially on gambling. It's real draw is events and hosting conferences. That's how they've succeeded. Gambling alone is no longer enough.

Aug. 14 2014 10:05 AM

.... the Obama presidency.

Who has discretionary income when we are becoming a poorer nation every day?
(progressively poorer, pun intended.)

(Hey, but all the suckers are fairly, equally poor....LOL)

Aug. 14 2014 09:58 AM

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