Atlantic City: Down But Not Out
The impending casino closures don't phase officials charged with making Atlantic City a viable business, residential and tourism destination.
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On WOBM-AM's Townsquare Tonight, officials with the Atlantic City Alliance (ACA) and the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA), said gaming revenue has been on the decline for nearly a decade which is why their organization's were established in the first place.
CRDA Executive Director John Palmieri explained that they were created by the Governor and the State Legislature in 2011 to establish a tourism district in Atlantic City and to focus the CRDA's resources in investing in the city's infrastructure.
Likewise, ACA President Liza Cartmell said their goal is to market Atlantic City as a tourism destination with a wide and diversified array of entertainment and activities. Cartmell said even with the decline in gaming, Atlantic City continues to draw 27 million people annually and many of them coming for non-gaming entertainment.
"We're starting from an incredibly strong position," explained Cartmell. "Even putting in context the closures .... which are really about reducing gaming capacity and not really about reducing the core capacity of the destination to entertain."
Cartmell said they're planning on capitalizing on the way people take their vacations nowadays.
"Very few people actually go away for that really long extended vacation but they very much are increasing the number of short getaway trips and Atlantic City, because of its proximity, and because of the diversity of its offering, actually offers the perfect antidote for the 'quick getaway'," she explained.
Palmieri spoke about the millions of dollars the CRDA has already invested in the boardwalk and lighting. He said they've also contributed funding for infrastructure improvements at the Bass Pro Shops and a smaller casino-based convention center.
Cartmell also said let's not forget that Atlantic City is an island. She said they've been focusing on A-C as an ocean front resort by hosting free beach concerts and a calendar of events which includes a million dollar fishing tournament, pro-beach volley ball, surfing and the Miss America beauty pageant, to name a few.
"And so we'd like to think that we can create some sustainability for the remaining casinos," explained Palmieri. "And do all the other things that Liza's talking about and that we've been working on at the CRDA to create additional reasons for people to visit and enjoy an extraordinary ocean front with the best boardwalk in the world."