Atlantic City is at an identity crossroads with Trump Plaza set for demolition
Atlantic City Is At An Identity Crossroads With Trump Plaza Set For Demolition: For decades, one of the main attractions for travelers to the east coast destination of Atlantic City has been its casino scene. Established in the late 1970s following the state of New Jersey’s decision to approve legalized casino gaming in Atlantic City, the area has sought to position itself as the “Vegas of the East”.
It reopened its casinos much quicker than most other areas of North America including Ontario. It was the now-departed US President Donald Trump, who helped bring the glitz and glamor to the streets of Atlantic City in the early 1980s.
The entrepreneur used his clout to secure bookings for some of the most prestigious boxing fights to be staged in Atlantic City, with heavyweight icon Mike Tyson using Atlantic City as his spiritual home throughout the 80s. It, therefore, seems somewhat ironic that the city is planning to demolish the Trump Plaza casino resort that was forced to close its doors back in 2016.
The mayor of Atlantic City, Marty Small, is keen to finalize the full demolition of Trump Plaza, intending to raise funds to support the city’s local youth charities. Mayor Small believes that the demolition, scheduled for January 29, 2021, could raise up to $1 million, with people able to bid at auction to become the person to press the all-important button. Unsurprisingly, stories such as this are enough to get into the world news.
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Three of the casinos on Atlantic City’s boardwalk used the Trump name for many years. However, his decision to cut virtually all ties with the city after the 2008 financial crash, apart from paying a fee to retain his name on the three casinos he owned, sparked alarm bells for the destination’s casino industry.
Since then, Trump has sold or closed all three of his casinos, with Trump Plaza the latest in line to be removed from the boardwalk for good. It begs the question as to the future of Atlantic City as a proud gaming resort.
For years, Atlantic City has inspired various forms of table gaming. Betway Casino’s choice of online blackjack tables contains an “Atlantic City Blackjack” table, inspired by the variant spawned in the city, famed for its low house edge. As part of the variant, the game includes new rules such as Early Surrender.
Despite being a former innovator, does Atlantic City’s casino industry have what it takes to regenerate itself in the post-pandemic economy?
The threat of Live! Philadelphia
With more questions than answers surrounding Atlantic City’s casino scene, the sector will also be holding its collective breath over the launch of a new competitor, Live! Philadelphia. Slated to open its doors in February 2021, the Live! Casino & Hotel Philadelphia is situated alongside Citizens Bank Park and its owner, The Cordish Companies, describes the resort as a “world-class gaming and entertainment destination” a stone’s throw from the South Philadelphia Sports Complex, the hub for Philly’s major league sports teams.
The Live! Casino & Hotel Philadelphia will contain over 125 live table games on its casino floor, along with 2,200-plus slot machines as part of an entertainment resort spanning 1.5 million square feet of prime floor space. The construction alone is thought to have the potential to generate over $2 billion for Philadelphia’s economy, as well as a further $100 million in tax revenues.
Should Atlantic City’s casinos be concerned that the new arrival in Philadelphia will draw customers away from New Jersey and into neighboring Pennsylvania? Jane Bokunewicz, the coordinator of the Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality & Tourism of Stockton University, has refuted these fears, suggesting that any bettors that have “migrated to Pennsylvania casinos” will have “already done so in the last 11 years”. Ms. Bokunewicz said that any brand-new casino resort will inevitably “attract public attention” but was confident that regular customers are more likely to be South Philadelphia locals, putting the likes of Rivers and Valley Forge casinos more in the firing line.
There is work to be done to further diversify Atlantic City’s offerings
Planetware states that some 37 million people have visited Atlantic City annually in years gone by, spending approximately $4 billion across the city’s attractions. There is much more to Atlantic City than meets the eye, with this fun, seaside resort often unfairly labeled a one-dimensional gaming destination. Its iconic Boardwalk is a wonderful place where the sun is shining. This boardwalk dates back as far as 1870 and was a fortunate survivor of Hurricane Sandy back in 2012.
The Steel Pier is another reason that Atlantic City is revered as a popular seaside resort. Akin to New York’s Coney Island, this late 19th-century pier was once one of the most popular tourist attractions in all of America and has enjoyed a new lease of life since its redevelopment in 1993. Meanwhile, the Atlantic City Aquarium provides a timely reminder of the area’s marine heritage, containing a string of sea life from the east coast, including sand tiger sharks, northern stingrays, and beautiful coral reefs.
More needs to be made of the Atlantic City story outside of its casino roots. The Atlantic City Historical Museum does a great job of describing its rise from a modest fishing village to a nationwide tourist hub. Plenty of artifacts remain in the museum, while the Atlantic City Experience also tells an engaging story of the area’s unique heritage.
While casino gaming executives remain positive about the future of Atlantic City’s nine casino offerings, pressing forward with the diversification of Atlantic City’s economy is vital to futureproofing this corner of New Jersey.