Atlantic City Struggles go beyond just the Casinos

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Throughout 2014, gaming headlines have been dominated by the poor performance of Atlantic City casinos. This trend has only picked up in the summer, with the Showboat announcing their closure at the end of August, Trump Plaza expecting to shut down on September 16th, and the Revel desperately seeking a buyer in bankruptcy court.

Obviously these struggles have negative implications for the casino corporations that are losing millions every month. But as USA Today reports, these tough times have far-reaching consequences for the Jersey Shore area.

“When Atlantic City suffers, the entire area suffers,” David Breeden, administrator of the town of Barnegat, told USA Today. Breeden’s comments reflect how about 100,000 jobs (2% of New Jersey’s workforce) are tied to the gaming industry. Unfortunately, 1,000 of these jobs were slashed when the Trump Plaza announced layoffs last week.

“It breaks my heart to see this happening to our people,” said Little Egg Harbor Mayor Arthur Midgley. He went on to tell USA Today that between 1,000 and 1,500 of his town’s 16,000 residents work in the casino industry. Midgley added that Little Egg Harbor’s economy could be devastated if jobs continue being lost in Atlantic City.

With the town’s number of casinos potentially dropping from its current total of 11 to 8, it seems improbable to expect a rebound any time soon. And the casino market’s failures could lead to even greater problems as unemployment lines start grow, incomes fall and property values also plummet.

Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian doesn’t sound too optimistic about the situation. “We had gaming, and we put all our eggs in one basket,” he said. “We were foolish. We had a monopoly.” Guardian’s comments allude to the fact that around 70% of Atlantic City’s revenue comes from gaming. Contrast this to the more-successful Las Vegas, which only draws 30% from gaming, with the remainder of their revenue coming from entertainment, dining and retail.

With their downward spiral continuing, it’s likely that Atlantic City will look to re-brand their gaming destination and offer more all-around entertainment options. But this will no doubt take time and until then, we can likely expect the struggles to continue.

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