Even Beyonce can’t save Atlantic City

March 21, 2012 1:58 pm

Atlantic City backers hope the opening next month of a new $2.4 billion casino – with a live performance by Beyonce – will give the struggling Jersey Shore town a much-needed shot in the arm. But the reality is the new casino could be Atlantic City’s last gasp. That is the case I make in this piece for Philadelphia Magazine.

Atlantic City has been hammered by the opening of casinos in Pennsylvania. More competition looming in New York could well provide a knock-out punch. Then again, Atlantic City has never lived up to its hype. After 30 plus years of casinos, the town is pretty much a dump.

The opening of the upscale Revel casino is likely to take business away from other A.C. casinos, rather than attract new gamblers. One casino has elected to not even try to compete, and is instead going downmarket to attract low rollers with cheap rooms, penny slots with higher payouts and $1 table games.

Turns out, I’m not the only that feels A.C. is in trouble. Wall Street investors are avoiding casino bonds because they believe there is a glut of casinos, and the opening of the Revel will hurt other Atlantic City casinos. In fact, investors walked away from the Revel when it was being built. It needed a state bailout from Gov. Christie to finish being built.

That’s a good indication the private market knows something Christie doesn’t. Then again Christie is playing with taxpayers’ money. It’s easier to make risky bets with other people’s money.

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