Atlantic City officials, the State of New Jersey and its residents wonder about the fate of Atlantic City and the rest of its gambling palaces as the Revel Hotel and Casino closed its doors on Monday after the Showboat Casino closed on Sunday. Trump Plaza, which is connected to the famed Boardwalk Hall, will close September 16, following the Miss America Pageant.
After reaching an all-time high revenue of $5.2 billion in 2008, gambling revenue has fallen 50%, eroded by out-of-state competition, beginning with the Foxwoods casino (opened in 1986) and Mohegan Sun casino (opened in 1996) in Connecticut. The bleeding accelerated when Pennsylvania approved slot gambling in 2004 and table gambling in 2010. Since then, five full-service casinos have opened in Pennsylvania. Three of those — Mount Airy, Mt. Pocono (opened in 2007), Sands Casino, Bethlehem (opened in 2009) and SugarHouse Casino, Philadelphia (opened in 2010) — within striking distance of Atlantic City.
Many experts suggest that Atlantic City never developed its other asset, the beach, to compliment gambling. Atlantic City features 500-feet-wide beaches in many locations along the boardwalk, while other Jersey Shore beaches suffer from massive erosion. But access to the beach in Atlantic City is often blocked by massive casino buildings, unlike in other Jersey Shore towns. Furthermore, there is little in terms of food and drink on the Atlantic City boardwalk directly across from the beach, also unlike other Jersey Shore towns, like Seaside Heights.
One official commented, “We threw all our eggs in one basket (gambling). Maybe this is a wake-up call (to refocus on Atlantic City’s other asset, the beach).”