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New Jersey News

Will Atlantic City's 'Historical Baggage' Hurt Its Future?

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Atlantic City Casinos

The July 4th holiday weekend is upon us, and for many, that means a long weekend spent at area beaches, from Long Island to the Jersey Shore. But one place people are increasingly not going is Atlantic City.

In the past two weeks, the city's largest casino, Revel, announced it would shut down if a buyer wasn't found by the end of the summer. Then Caesar's Entertainment announced it will close the Showboat Casino Hotel on Aug. 31.

In 2006, casinos generated record amounts of revenue for Atlantic City — nearly $500 million. Eight years later, they're not even generating half of that. Gov. Chris Christie and Democratic State Senate President Steve Sweeney have pledged not to allow Atlantic City to turn into another Detroit.

But less than a year after that promise, the seaside resort increasingly finds itself in a fight to survive.

James Karmel is the founder of Gaming Atlantic, a casino gaming consultancy firm. He's also the author of Gambling on the American Dream: Atlantic City and the Casino Era. He said part of the problem is the city's "historic baggage" as an area centered around casinos for the past 35 years. Now it's struggling to diversify its economic base.

"Atlantic City developed a reputation as a not very family-friendly place, a kind of rundown city where all you wanted to do there was go to the casino," Karmel said. "I think it's going to take some time for Atlantic City to reinvent itself, reinvent its image to be more of a family-oriented place."